Schubert completes major €45 million packaging machinery headquarters upgrade

A major programme of investment from Gerhard Schubert has seen the unveiling of its expanded manufacturing facilities at its German headquarters in Crailsheim, which has undergone a significant €45 million development boost, reports Neill Barston.

The packaging machinery specialist began work on the newly-enhanced site two years ago, with an initial focus on upgrading surrounding road networks, before delivering a vital 30% increase in assembly space, adding a total of additional 13,000 square metres.

As part of the project, an additional 300 new workspaces for employees, with the location benefitting from an advanced new climate-neutral design that has been forged within its Mission Blue strategy of seeking to maximise sustainability within its operations (Schubert’s management team pictured below).

The company’s upgraded headquarters have been launched this week at a timely moment for the business, which has released an annual review revealing a notable performance for 2023 in spite of significant wider industry supply chain challenges. Consequently, Gerhard Schubert’s turnover stood at 312 million euros for the past 12 months, with its overall performance increasing to €320 million euros, representing to 9.3% sales growth.

Significantly, the company, which has a considerable focus on applications for confectionery and snacks ranges, has continued to make notable strides with the development of its core packaging systems, which included a number of new releases at last year’s key Interpack event including cobots, developed for rapid feeding of different packaging components. In addition, it also focused on delivering enhancements to its Comfort Feeder, as well as its innovative 3D Partbox spares printing system that have underlined its commitment to developing advanced solutions for the sector.

Speaking on its newly installed heating and cooling system, Reiner Weidmann, Head of Facility Management and authorised officer at Gerhard Schubert GmbH, accompanied the planning and construction of the start, explaining its unique features.

He said: “Since1966, Schubert has been conquering new markets with major innovative leaps. We also demonstrate our pioneering spirit in our own company by venturing into unconventional, forward-looking technologies.

“This allows us to produce sustainably in the long term and, as a supplier, to meet the challenge of continuously reducing our carbon footprint.” The ice storage facility under the hall is especially unique: It is the largest of its kind in the world, with a reservoir of 1.9 million litres of water – an amount roughly equivalent to a swimming pool measuring 24 metres long, 13 metres wide and 3.5 metres deep. Like all ice storage tanks, this one is a one-off whose volume has been precisely calculated so that it is functionally and economically optimised. The storage tank is designed with a view to the future so that even the neighbouring hall, which is currently heated with fossil fuels, can be connected to the system.

“The functional principle is quite simple: When heat is extracted from water, it freezes into ice, generating additional energy. This energy is harnessed for the building’s heating circuit via heat pumps – until all the water is frozen. For the cooling function, the block of ice is simply defrosted again in the summer with the help of added heat. All useful waste heat has also been integrated into the overall concept. At the heart of the system, state-of-the-art control technology guarantees efficient operation of the heating and cooling centres as well as optimum energy distribution. Furthermore, the photovoltaic system on the roof of the new final assembly hall and a neighbouring hall provides more than one megawatt of self-generated electricity per year, which Schubert can use to cover a quarter of its requirements.”

Gerald Schubert, Shareholder of the Schubert Group, is extremely pleased with the result: “With our Mission Blue Sustainability Initiative, we have set ourselves very ambitious environmental protection targets. We are delighted that we have now come a step closer to achieving them with these two energy-efficient new buildings.”


Company annual report
For its annual report, Schubert noted that while turnover for the business remained positive, there remained a number of domestic challenges. As the company indicated, with Germany, 2023 was characterised within the mechanical and systems engineering industry as a year ‘impacted by bottlenecks in materials and shortages of skilled labour.’

As a result, this saw an order intake reduced by 12% over the previous year, and the company estimated that this was not expected to return to positive territory this year, in spite of an improving picture within Europe.

Moreover, the company noted that factors such as prevailing inflation in conjunction with persistently high capital market interest rates and increasing bureaucracy, continue to have a negative impact on demand for capital goods for the sector as a whole, leading to an expected decline in production of -4%. However, it noted that national investment promotion programmes and laws that support the ecological and digital transformation in particular are having a positive impact.

The business cited national research from the VDMA organisation that Incoming orders in the German packaging machinery industry in 2023 were down -5% on the previous year. There was a decline in foreign demand, particularly in non-euro countries (-8%), while expectations were met in Germany (+11%). For 2024, the food and packaging machinery sector anticipates lower production growth against the backdrop of the previous year’s order intake trend and the dwindling order backlog, including for packaging machinery, with no indication as to whether this may pick up in the second half of 2024.

Despite such tests, the company confirmed that it remained committed to its technology development plans, stating that it will continue to invest in digitalisation and the expansion of its existing product portfolio.

It is set to renew its focus on advanced technologies including the resource-saving TLM Comfort Feeder in conjunction with the A3 erector for feeding cardboard blanks, Dotlock technology for strong cardboard joints without using hot melt, as well as the expansion of Schubert Motion technology to include additional robot units to optimise track planning and the new TLM 7 machine generation as a concept study including an innovative transport system.

Furthermore, the company’s report noted that this is set to be complemented by the collaborative tog.519 robots, which are ready for series production and continue to support its customers towards increasing their levels of automation within their respective manufacturing operations.

Marcel Kiessling, Managing Director Gerhard Schubert, said: “Our Vision 2050 and Mission Blue initiatives are the right forward-looking strategies for Schubert. We have countered the trend and achieved a very positive annual result. A team effort we can be proud of.”




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