Down a quiet industrial cul-de-sac in Waihi lies a New Zealand manufacturer of premier pet treats and meals – Best Mates.
Last year the company invested in a customised automated weigh packaging system from Wedderburn that also facilitates manual packaging and it turned out to be a game-changer for them.
Best Mates Petfood can now reliably pack 8-10 bags of pet treats per minute compared to the 1-2 bags per minute they had been processing manually.
It wasn’t as simple as installing shiny new machinery though. It took time, expertise and cooperation – something Wedderburn’s national sales manager Stewart Gibbs says is their point of difference.
When Best Mates approached Wedderburn with a new brand of air-dried cat and dog treats Tu Meke Friend, Stewart and his team undertook thorough consultation to truly understand the customer’s operation and goals before advising on what packaging type would best suit the product.
“Once we had established what the correct packaging was for this customer’s products, we were able to specify machinery to suit. That’s where working with the customer, going from a business requirement and no packaging machinery to a complete turn-key solution, was paramount,” Stewart says.
“Our main goal is to supply quality equipment and local service tuned to the customer’s needs. It’s not a case of dropping it off and leaving them to sort it out. I was there at the first conversation and we’re there right through until the system is operating correctly.”
Despite some inevitable challenges at the beginning of the process due to the number and variations of products Best Mates produce – the Wedderburn team designed a solution.
“Our team will work on it until we get to a place where we are happy and believe we are providing our customers with the best machinery and packaging solution available.”
As with many small to medium New Zealand food manufacturers, Best Mates at first envisioned a machine that could process their entire range of products. Due to the dramatic differences in size, shape and weight of the dried pet food range, it was decided that focusing on the main products, and doing them well, was a better, more efficient solution.
This decision turned out to be the right one says Best Mates general manager Sam Leathem.
“The process has been great. It’s been a real eye opener because [the weigh packaging system]was a significant investment. There was some skepticism about whether it would be worthwhile because only a certain number of our products can go through the machine. But it has 100% been the right thing to do. It’s been really satisfying watching the staff knocking that product out.”
Dedicated to providing solutions that deliver on productivity, Wedderburn have a system set up in Christchurch so customers can test it using their actual product. Due to the current travel restrictions clients can simply post their product to the factory without needing to travel.
The Wedderburn team also ensured the installation process went as smoothly as possible by introducing it slowly.
“Instead of installing the whole solution all at once, which puts stress on staff and management, we installed it in stages. Installing entire systems in one go would mean production would stop completely during the installation, typically 4 – 6 days, which can cause significant disruption that would be very detrimental for any small to medium sized business,” says Stewart.
“We have a really good bunch of technicians around New Zealand that we train, and they offer that interaction with the customer. It’s all about cooperation, support and providing on-site maintenance as required.”
The Tu Meke Friend cat and dog snacks are packaged in 120g re-sealable pouches. The Wedderburn weigh packaging system reduces the giveaway and ensures each bag weighs in-line with the customer’s target weights.
Wedderburn reps understand the limitations and communicate them clearly to their clients from the beginning says Stewart.
“We don’t like doing a deal based on promising everything. We want to show you when things are going to be difficult or explain why something won’t work, so we don’t have customers expecting more than we can deliver.”
For Sam, the after-sale service has been “absolutely fantastic.”
“It’s brilliant. They are really nice guys and easy to deal with. If there’s a problem they just figure it out.”
Wedderburn NZ Ltd are a MPI Registered Essential Business providing support services to Primary Industries, Supermarkets and Medical Facilities. As such we will remain operating during New Zealand’s COVID-19 Level 4 Alert. Visit www.wedderburn.co.nz for any updates on our operating status.