Robots made in Cluj for food industry giants

Members of Cluj-based universities, in partnership with a Dutch private operator, have created a EUR 140,000 robot that will be delivered to the world’s giant food industry producers. The production centre for pallet packaging systems will be replicated in China and Mexico, according to ‘Ziua de Cluj’ daily.

“We got Technical University students and professors involved in the research and development of new products, being impressed with the young Romanians’ level of training. While before we used to produce this equipment in the Netherlands, now most of the design, production and testing is being done in Cluj. The robots we have designed with our teams in Romania and the Netherlands have prices ranging from EUR 60,000 to 140,000 and we deliver them not only to giant companies such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever or Pepsico, but also to smaller companies,” CSi Group COO Kees Oosting stated. CSi is a world leader in pallet packaging systems.

The Dutch admit that at first, in 2004, the company bought a plot of land located on the industrial platform and was planning to build the plant from scratch, but since three companies located nearby went bankrupt during the financial crisis period extra space was made available and was rented by the company. The new centre, recently inaugurated, will develop, test and apply pallet packaging concepts that will be implemented at a global level.

At the same time, the Cluj-based team will lay the bases of similar centres in China and Mexico, and foreign specialists will be trained here. The robot model manufactured in Cluj is part of the I-pal series and can handle 35 boxes per minute and 40 pallets per hour and will be exported at first to Brazil and China.

The Dutch state they came here for the skilled labour force and the Romanians’ seriousness and mentality, which is considered to be similar to that of the Dutch. “Before taking the decision to invest in Romania we looked at the Czech Republic and Poland, where several Dutch companies were present, but we concluded that the costs were already too high over there; then at Turkey, Bulgaria, Ukraine. Now the productivity of the employees in Cluj is higher than that of employees in the Netherlands,” Jan de Bruijn, one of the group’s owners, points out.

The Dutch investment in Cluj totals EUR 8 M. CSi has 460 employees, 270 of them in Romania, and an annual turnover of EUR 60 M. The two production plants in the Netherlands and Romania mainly serve the European market. Nestle, Friesland, Danone, Renckitt Benckiser and Tetra Pack are among the beneficiaries of pallet packaging robots.

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