Driving to the north of the country near Leek to the left of the A7 rises the brand-new premises of Boikon. A total of 22 machines have recently been built in this building, with which a part of British American Tobacco Niemeyer’s production process – the Dutch manufacturer of shag (hand-rolling tobacco), pipe-tobacco and cigars – has been thoroughly automated.
The Boikon automation platform
Boikon is a young company that was started in a bedroom in 1996 and has become a leading designer and supplier of industrial solutions in a relatively short period of time. The story of Boikon is the story of two brothers, Jeroen en Erik Oosterhof, who fill up a gap in the market in a very special way. Boikon’s core business is automation and optimization of production processes based on standard concepts that Boikon itself develops. The company, consisting of 23 employees, serves among others the food and tobacco industry and the medical and pharmaceutical sector, both nationally and internationally.
Our hosts, director eng. Erik Oosterhof and project engineer Dennis Ottens push off immediately and confide their vision of entrepreneurship to us: Making flexible and efficient production systems that can be adjusted easily in a constant innovative way. Oosterhof: “One of the means is the modular design of our systems, which allows us to smoothly respond to our customers' wishes. It enables a shorter lead time, which means less costs and eventually a more competitive position for our customer.”
Ottens: “Being engineers we think up automation solutions based on our own products and concepts, the Boikon automation platform. We have standard solutions for internal transport, robot applications, noise casings and vibrating supply systems. We do everything by ourselves, from design to completion with aftercare. Because of our systematic approach we lower the costs, save time and eliminate waste.”
“This way we have less to engineer, because much has already been developed. Moreover, the testing phase becomes shorter and our added value for the customer becomes larger.” A good example of such a Boikon solution is the order that in recent months has been carried out for BAT Niemeyer in Groningen. It is a tobacco supply system that was specifically made for this tobacco producer.
BAT Niemeyer is an international company that focuses on the production and sale of hand-rolling tobacco and pipe-tobacco. Famous brands are Samson and Javaanse Jongens. The company, since 1999 part of British American Tobacco, started as a small shop for colonial goods and tobacco that Meindert Niemeĳer opened just outside the city of Groningen in 1819. In 1848 his son Theodorus set up his own tobacco factory and laid the foundation for the current enterprise that now counts about 450 employees.
Eliminate monotonous labour
Until recently, the tobacco was supplied manually from the containers via a conveyor belt to the production process. Human hands picked the tobacco loose and spread it evenly on the conveyor belt, a far from inspiring job. "This had to be automated", says Piet Douma, project engineer to Niemeyer.
The basic principles were safety, hygiene and product quality, to be realized in a closed system. In close consultation with Boikon a prototype was developed and tested intensively for three months. The result appealed to Niemeyer and instigated the order of in total 22 tobacco supply installations.
Douma: "The result completely lived up to our expectations. Productivity and efficiency increased, maintenance is minimal and the tobacco is processed more constantly and evenly. And there's more job satisfaction, because monotonous work is eliminated. We should have done this much earlier...". A nice compliment to Boikon.
Quote: Ing. Erik Oosterhof, managing director at Boikon
We have been using SEW products for years now, because they are of high quality. Equally important is the smooth and agreeable communication and the fact that the SEW specialists think along with us.