Packaging plays a key role
Wihuri is a global Finnish industry and trade conglomerate engaged in operations in four different business sectors. One of them is the packaging business with an annual turnover of approximately one billion euros. Packaging produced by Wipak and Winpak is used in the food and medical supply industries.
Packaging plays a key role in many sectors, including the foodstuff production chain, preventing foodstuff degradation and, thereby, forestalling the generation of much more harmful waste – food waste. Food supply chains are one of the main contributors to several pressing environmental problems such as climate change, eutrophication and loss of biodiversity.
Food production and consumption comprise more than one-fifth of global CO2-emissions. The energy consumption of the industrial processing of food and their transportation have minor impact for carbon footprint. The amount of packaging material also has a low environmental impact, as long as packaging waste is recycled.
Packaging protects the product during transport, storage and retail sale. It also preserves the product so that it is fit for use. Stringent requirements govern cleanliness and hygiene.
Applied to foodstuffs, multilayer film materials produced by Wipak and Winpak enable a reduction in the amount of food additives used to preserve the food for a longer time.
A multitude of things happen during the planning phase
Wipak and Winpak place a premium on quality and risk management, a fact that is clearly evident in the fire safety of the production facilities around the world.
“Wipak has put in place the latest technology at their plants. This will protect the personnel and property against loss caused by accidents, ensuring continued operation in a sector that is extremely vulnerable to smoke and impurities,” comments Ari Ahonen, Risk Engineer, If P&C Insurance (ret.).
In addition to cutting-edge technology, employees play a key role. The provision of regular training for motivated and skilled personnel in handling first-aid fire extinguishing equipment and similar technology, is an important part of Wipak’s and Winpak’s fire safety system.
Engaging If’s risk engineers in the planning process at the earliest possible opportunity made also economic sense, as installing automated extinguishing equipment after the facility is completed would be expensive and difficult.
By taking account of fire safety from the planning stage onwards, major accidents can be prevented and securing official permission to continue operations from local authorities can be ensured in situations where a fire has damaged only a small section of a production facility. If there was a major accident event, local authorities may be hesitant to grant a license for the plant, which may jeopardise the continuation of operations.
Safety aspects at early stage
In 2012 - 2014, while planning fire safety at Wipak’s packaging facilities in Poland and China, If’s risk engineers highlighted that the installation of piping and fire detectors as well as the division of the production premises into fire compartments is significantly easier when these aspects are taken into consideration in the planning stage of the project.
In addition to Poland and China, Wipak has production plants in Finland, Germany, France, Holland, UK, Spain and Italy. Winpak has facilities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
According to Petri Leskinen, Treasurer at the Wihuri Group, which owns Wipak, collaboration with If’s risk management has been a very positive experience.
“We are satisfied with the services offered by If’s risk management and with the professional competence of their risk engineers. With regard to plant projects like this, beginning collaboration as early as possible is extremely fruitful, both from the viewpoint of the enterprise and the insurance company,” he says.
Risk management provides excellent support to enabling quality work, which is vital in the production of medical packaging.
“True, much remains to be done in our risk management, but generally speaking, since we are engaged in international competition, investments in this area constitute part of the development of our operations and, through this, part of the development of our competitiveness,” comments Leskinen.
Article by Harry Nordqvist & Ari Ahonen/If, Petri Leskinen/Wihuri Group