Solving Packaging Line Problems

ITW Hartness
Written by Pauline Müller

In the food business, keeping packaging lines running smoothly day in, day out makes keeping ducks in a row seem easy. A newly re-invigorated ITW Hartness is a national leader among packaging equipment providers, with unique, brilliant solutions and technology chosen by the top producers.

With a fresh senior leadership team to match its brand-new, next-generation operations facility, this company means business. After 70 years in the industry, ITW Hartness is ushering in a new era, meeting its clients in the food and beverage and beauty industries with new energy, vision, and dedication.

At its headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina, much of the company’s success is ascribed to its unique business model that also allows it to realize significant gains for its shareholders. Next-generation operational excellence seamlessly combines with innovation and meticulous customer service to radically improve its clients’ performance.

This means solving even the most complex packaging challenges with smart design applications and speedy response times. In fact, Hartness undertakes to always respond within 24 hours of mechanical issues being reported, minimizing downtime and making a significant impact on productivity.

Tim Hudson, vice president and general manager; Jim Soenke, director of global sales; Mark Hostetler, director of operations; and Anthony Toklo, director of strategic marketing, describe how this market leader grew from a predominantly case-packing manufacturer to a consistent innovator of sector-disruptive technologies. “I am very proud that over the past seventeen years the organization has grown via the development of a full line of secondary packaging machinery and systems integration services,” says Tim.

Global following
Known as one of the largest vertically integrated manufacturers in North America and with a reputation for being a market-leading business partner, ITW Hartness’ service is flexible and efficient. This has attracted customers from around the world for its specialized packaging solutions.

The team serves a global following with its top-quality range of packaging equipment from industry-leading accumulators to lines that pack everything from bottles and jars to pouches and cans and more, sealing the product in cases and depositing it on wooden pallets, ready for shipping.

The Hartness team is particularly focused on meeting the challenges of a product diverse line – and the necessary mechanical adaptability – without sacrifice of speed and efficiency. Consequently ITW Hartness machinery is favored by some of the biggest brands in the world – selected for its snappy product conversion and impressively wide application ranges.

Essentially, Hartness has shown it can boost its clients’ competitiveness, and expansion of product volumes and ranges, through innovation and visionary design.

Known for innovation
An innovation of the company that is genuinely famous is the DYNAC line, a unique design of accumulator that allows improved, uninterrupted, production-line runs, and efficiency through its dynamic accumulation capabilities. A favorite feature with clients is how little space this equipment needs, thanks to the brilliant helical design that radically reduces the size of its accumulation platform.

The company’s service delivery is as sleek as its designs, with a focused team of technical consultants always ready to serve. They are supported by an industry-leading manufacturing team which handles all aspects of fabrication such as laser cutting, forming and bending, welding, milling, router machining, and more.

The team includes a parts manufacturing division that enables the company to deliver replacement parts within 24 hours of identifying a mechanical problem. In addition, its dynamic engineering department is charged with creating world-leading technology through its mechanical, electrical and digital expertise.

Leading change
While necessity may be the mother of invention, continuous re-invention is also necessary to keep Hartness at the forefront of international packaging trends. In this sense, Hartness has not only kept up with changing industries, but it has often led change through systems improvement. As its customers’ product lines have expanded and diversified, so too has its offering. The team has been able to keep a finger on the packing industry’s pulse, meeting demand with completely fresh solutions previously unheard of.

For Antonio, a quote by Andrew Carnegie best describes the company’s approach to being an industry leader. “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.”

In contrast to its complex technical capabilities, the company’s singular commitment to simplicity in design has become a recognized feature and its signature style. Rigorous simplicity has driven ease of use to unique levels, making the owning and operation of a ITW Hartness system a breeze.

Representatives of the company spend some of their most rewarding moments with customers purposely encouraging them to complain about existing machinery. For the team it’s an efficient way to come up with methods of improving the entire customer experience. This customer-centric approach to innovation also means building close relationships with clients who are often leading the way in their own industries.

Hartness customers also benefit from rigorous training for their operators that maximizes their productivity on the company’s equipment. The company’s H-Step program supports clients in making the most of the latest technological advances and ensures that top-quality staff training is easy to come by. Customers have the choice of classroom and in-field training. This supports clients by minimizing downtime, saving time and a lot of money.

Pinnacles and people
As hard as it may be to reach the pinnacle of success, staying there is impossible without a great team. The atmosphere around the 400 professionals inside the company is one of an energized commitment to excellence. This team spirit clearly underlies the number of innovations that Hartness has brought to this sector, like the first ever case packer, the case palletizer, the class-leading range of DYNAC accumulator systems , and others.

In the Hartness work environment where empowerment and meaningful engagement set the tone, its people’s professional contributions are highly valued, reflected in the quality of the company’s customer care. “I’m proud of making continuous improvement a way of life throughout my area of responsibility,” says Mark.

As a result of this overall commitment, there have been many big moments and big industry firsts over the years. In 2016, the company introduced HartnessCONNECT, a digital analytics platform – enabling remote systems-diagnostics – that includes systems monitoring. Two years later, it launched an erect pack-and-seal (EPS) machine that cuts down on labor and improves efficiency.

In addition, Hartness has been awarded South Carolina’s Chamber of Commerce ‘Commendation of Excellence in Safety’ for five consecutive years. It has also been recognized as one of the region’s operators with the lowest lost workday rates. Then there is the United Way Award of Excellence that it has also been awarded every year for five years, as well as its Chairman’s Award in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

With its appreciation of, and respect for, its own staff, it’s no surprise that the company should also reach out to support and assist that great community out there. Its main partner in channeling its charity contributions is United Way, the Alexandria, Virginia-based, not-for-profit outfit with nearly 1,200 satellites across the United States. For Hartness the motivation is that United Way collaborates with other charities to make a bigger impact where it is needed most, allowing ITW Hartness to touch many more lives than it would have been able to otherwise.

Harnessing change
This is a team which looks at industry challenges as its greatest opportunity for growth. Therefore, global trends like digitalization, the internet of things (IoT), e-commerce and many other aspects of modern business are met head-on with robust innovation and a continuous focus on the evolution of its clients’ needs.

The company sees these trends as significantly changing clients’ expectations of the industry, making plain that stagnation is simply never an option. It is particularly proud of the measurable and outstanding effectiveness of machinery with the ITW Hartness stamp and how this seamlessly combines with quality service and the latest technology to deliver unsurpassed value.

ITW Hartness may in one way be an unpredictable company, with its industry-changing invention and innovation. But looking ahead, one thing is for sure – it is this singular drive toward growth and technological advancement that Hartness’ clients can expect to see more of.

In a time when staying ahead of technology is the sine qua non of success, it is reassuring to know that the world of manufacturing has a business partner who not only leads the way but also eases the journey.



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