GN Thermoforming installs new machines with WhatsApp messaging platform
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The Chester, N.S.-based machinery maker is using the web platform to help customers install new thermoforming machines in Eastern Europe and the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chester, N.S.-based machinery maker GN Thermoforming Equipment is using the WhatsApp Messenger web platform to help customers install new thermoforming machines in Eastern Europe and the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic.
GN faced a critical challenge at the beginning of the pandemic when Georg Polymer, the largest Russian producer of rigid meat trays, needed its new GN760 machine installed quickly so it could meet the burgeoning demand for meat trays in Eastern Europe. “We had to think out-of-the-box and come up with a solution because our customer desperately needed the new capacity,” said Paul Phillips, GN sales and marketing manager.
With the prospect of having to postpone the installation due to travel restrictions, one of GN’s qualified technicians remotely guided its Russian customer through the installation of the new GN760, an in-mold cut thermoforming machine. The installation in April, which normally would take three to four days onsite, took about a week to complete using the WhatsApp platform, and was successful thanks to the customer’s broad mechanical experience with this type of machine and a high-speed internet connection.
Perhaps the biggest challenge along the way was the language barrier. Georg Polymer faced some minor problems with wiring, but a video call to the technician resolved the issue. The machine is up and running, producing 240,000 meat trays a day. The company also has two other GN760s and three GN1914DM machines within its portfolio and produced more than 350 million meat trays last year.
Previously, GN had used its broad remote capabilities to perform various support tasks including troubleshooting. Phillips noted that face-to-face machine installations are preferable so the company can personally provide its know-how and superior level of customer service and support. Remote installation through a messaging platform required a high level of preparation including enhanced labeling of componentry and extensive diagrams and collateral support.
Since April, two more machine installations have been successfully conducted using the WhatsApp platform: one in the Central U.S. and another for Pro-Form kft in Hungary. Both customers installed GN800s, adding to their existing GN machine lineup. If travel restrictions continue, Phillips said GN would continue to install remotely through the WhatsApp platform so its customers wouldn’t face production delays.
GN manufactures servo-driven, roll-fed thermoforming machines for the production of plastic packaging. The company’s operation also includes a technical service and sales centre in Jihlava, Czech Republic.