Innovation and complexity aren’t necessarily synonymous. That distinction is one that can be missed easily in terms of product development – especially when automation comes into play. Successful companies know how to make improvements without necessarily re-inventing the wheel or adding layers of difficulty to something that isn’t broken.
“Our equipment is manufactured and designed to be very simple to run, simple to operate, and simple to keep running.
This has been a guiding principle of Minnesota-based Hamer-Fischbein, a manufacturer of packaging equipment specializing in automated bagging systems, fillers, sealers, and robotic palletizers. While Hamer-Fischbein is in the business of automation, what it does not sell are products that are so complicated that it takes a mechanical engineer to operate them.
“We call it ‘practical innovation,’ because what we try to do is not add a lot of complex, technological bells and whistles,” explains President Dan Brown. “Our equipment is manufactured and designed to be very simple to run, simple to operate, and simple to keep running. So while we bring innovation – like in our filling equipment where we’ve added speed and accuracy – we didn’t do that by adding a lot of complexity. We kept the application of the technology very simple.”
Over a Century of Innovation
This philosophy of simplicity, as well as listening to customers and providing them with technical solutions that their businesses require, is the reason Hamer-Fischbein has been in the business for over a century and continues to grow.
“That’s one of the drivers for our success,” says Brown. “Our products are robustly built, and extremely simple to keep running – and that’s really key,” he notes. Brown points out that many of their customers don’t have complex preventative maintenance programs in place and rely on operations or maintenance staff to take care of the equipment. “It’s got to be simple, so they can keep it running,” he says.
Both Hamer and Fischbein got their start when the founders of the respective companies’ namesake came up with a method to automate closure of large open mouth bags. For Hamer, it was the closure of large bags of flour using a hog ring wire tie. Known as the Hamer ring bag closer, this became the company’s very first product and provided a durable, cost effective bag closing system for the flour milling industry.
Hamer remained fairly small for nearly 60 years following its launch, according to Brown, and it wasn’t until the early 1980s that the company began to experience significant growth, as it entered the bagging automation market.
Today, Hamer-Fischbein offers a wide variety of industrial packaging equipment to meet virtually any plant requirement – from standalone bag top closers, to gross weigh bagging scales, to manual bag palletizing conveyors. For fully-automated bagging systems, the company produces some of the most advanced, robust, and productive turnkey systems in the industry. Hamer-Fischbein boasts thousands of installations running hundreds of different materials which Brown says gives it unparalleled field experience in the industry, and serves as the basis for all project and product design improvements.
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This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Grain Journal