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Kivo Groups retrofits "youngster"

Kivo is one of the leading European producers of highly engineered film products for food and non-food applications with a strong backward integration in the production of its own PCR brand. At its Volendam plant, Kivo has a total of 10 OPTIMEX and VAREX lines as well as a line of printing presses including NOVOFLEX and MIRAFLEX to complement its state-of-the-art flexible packaging capabilities. This article describes the retrofit of a VAREX from 2015.

When initializing this project, Kivo was aware of the benefits of retrofitting from previous projects where machines had been upgraded or obsolete parts replaced. Expectations were therefore high from the outset. The main goal was to increase the output of the chosen line, a VAREX from 2015, which is heavily used for the production of liners of paper sacks. The downtime of the retrofit was to be kept to a minimum. The challenge for this particular machine was the wide and highly standardized product range of food applications, which meant that measures to increase output shouldn't affect the recipe. The machine technology had to do all the work.


During the retrofit consultation, several measures were simulated and discussed with the experts at Kivo. A process common to all retrofit projects: all options are explored and simulated to achieve the optimal cost-benefit ratio. For the VAREX, replacing the existing air ring insert proved to be the right approach to get more value out of the existing machines with the same manpower and production space. The improved efficiency and productivity were felt across the entire product range produced on this line, from narrow tubular liners to wide single web films. For the wide film width range, two air ring inserts were introduced to replace the two original air ring inserts. And the results were more than convincing: The stability was increased by more than 30%. The majority of the products running on the line will be able to convert this improvement into 30% higher output. The smaller formats running at high web speed will see an increase in output of approximately 15%. The previous generations of high-performance air-ring systems only provided a measurable increase in output for products with medium or high blow-up ratios (BUR). Windmöller & Hölscher's new state-of-the-art technology has broken this rule forever and delivers an increase in output for the full range of BUR that a typical blown film line can run.


The success factor of this project was the smooth process from order to implementation. The consulting phase took about 6 weeks, the replacement of interchangeable parts like the air ring inserts meant, that no special installation time was required. The experienced Kivo team was able to complete the changeover by themselves in no more than two hours as part of a normal product change. For Kivo, the retrofit means producing more high-quality baby food packaging film with the same available resources, while maintaining the highest standards of hygiene and food safety. Resulting in better film economy and efficiency.


Kivo was able to maximize the use of the available equipment by using a more effective state-of-the-art technology. An output increase of that order of magnitude could have only been possible with significant expansions in machinery and production space and with a much higher consumption of production media and natural resources. The retrofit was without any doubt the smartest choice economically and ecologically.

Is there more retrofit potential? Absolutely! As the same applies to most of the installed lines at Kivo (as well as for all other lines standing in production halls all over the world). Our groundbreaking developments in high performance air ring technology of the recent years are a retrofit potential even for younger machines, whenever bubble stability is a limiting factor. Kivo is already exploring further retrofit potentials.


Better efficiency or output increase is a typical goal of retrofitting. But the retrofit measure itself is as individual as our customers are. The right solutions are depending on the specific machine and its features, the products produced, and the respective objective. A thorough analysis and consultation is therefore essential to find the right solution with the best cost-benefit ratio. We will provide you with an initial estimate of measures and costs free of charge - for Windmöller & Hölscher machines, as well as machines from other manufacturers. And by the way: That retrofits are only something for machines from the “stone age” is a prejudice that has not been true for a long time!