Interview with Dr. ing. Dirk Wouters, CEO and Co-Owner of CHP
CHP is an engineering company designing, manufacturing, installing and servicing state-of-the-art lubrication solutions, ranging from small-scale installations up to large turnkey projects. 1,500 production lines are currently operating in 720 factories in 78 countries, running worldwide without jams, while saving energy and lowering costs. Customers such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Danone benefit from CHP systems. PETplanet Insider talked to Mr Dirk Wouters who joined CHP as CEO and co-owner in 2020.
PETplanet: Dirk, you joined CHP last year with a lot of experience in both the technical and management fields. What first impressions do you have of CHP and what first ideas did you bring with you?
Dirk: My first impression of CHP is that it is driven by an experienced, young, excited & dynamic team that has only one goal for all of its clients: excellence. The products that the company manufactures are unique and designed for the future, in order to constantly meet all expectations and rapidly changing requirements in the sector. Not only from a technical point of view, but also in terms of sustainability, which is a very rare combination.
It is my goal to uplift the general level of performance even more by using my expertise in an international business context, combined with my entrepreneurial DNA. This way I hope to further expand our relations and to generate an international business growth.
PETplanet: How many of your initial ideas were you able to implement, and how were you able to give positive support to CHP?
Dirk: Since the company is built on good foundations, it already offers a wide range of high performing products. All key elements for success are already here, which makes it easier for me to continue the great results CHP already established during the last few years. My added value today is mainly to strengthen the structure of the company and to prepare the organisation for further growth and development. The most important KPI’s will still be innovation and customer satisfaction.
PETplanet: Around 80% of your business is in the PET sector. What key business strategies are you following to maintain this strong position?
Dirk: We think it is very important to stay in close contact with our customers in the beverage industry, in particular those who use PET bottles. This gives us the opportunity to keep up with the evolutions and trends in the PET bottling industry, specifically those related to recycling and sustainability. CHP is committed to keep on being an ally for the PET industry by coming up with answers to their (rapidly changing) expectations and demands. It is our priority to help them overcome any challenge they may encounter.
PETplanet: What are the specialties in the CHP product range? What are their particular strengths?
Dirk: That would be the unique features and benefits of the MicroDry dry lubrication systems that help optimise the efficiency of filling lines. The most important challenges for plant managers in the bottling industry are mainly related to line efficiency and controlling costs. When our clients decide to make the initial investment to install the MicroDry system, we see that the line efficiency increases substantially, while the operational costs drop drastically. At the same time, the amount of lubricant (recurring consumables) needed, is limited to the bare minimum.
As we all know, sustainability – in this case saving water when lubricating the lines – has gained importance over the years. Many companies already strive to reduce water consumption in their production processes to an absolute minimum, which is of course a very positive evolution. Our MicroDry dry lubrication is the perfect solution because it allows our customers to save 100% of water during the lubrication process. This makes an oversised water treatment plant redundant, because there is no more spilled water that needs to be purified or recuperated.
A second unique and successful product line is the MicroDry Air coating system. Especially in the PET lines, a lot of air conveyors are still transporting empty bottles to the filler. Due to complex layouts, long supply lines and special bottle shapes quite often bottle jams occur. The MicroDry Air system eliminates these jams and guarantees uninterrupted supplies to the filler. Unfortunately, many users still don’t know that there is a perfectly simple solution to this very common problem.
We are only a small component in a very complex process, but nonetheless we still feel privileged to be able to offer this ingenious and efficient solution to our clients. MicroDry Air helps them to increase efficiency and to save money, while improving safety.
PETplanet: How has the pandemic affected your operations and more generally, what has been the impact on after-sales service? Has Covid highlighted any areas of concern and if so, what steps will CHP be taking to resolve any problems?
Dirk: As for all entrepreneurs, Covid has been a real challenge for us. CHP supports and supplies for a crucial industry fulfilling the needs of all households and families worldwide. It goes without saying that we took all necessary safety measures to protect our colleagues and our customers. The presence at the office was limited to people operating hotlines. All other employees worked – and are still working – from home. Our technicians have been given the instructions to respect rigorously all safety rules to protect our customers and their own safety. We managed to do this without letting our customers down. It’s a blessing that we have very reliable products and that we operate in an industry where hygiene and safety are top priorities.
PETplanet: What challenges is the PET sector facing now and in the foreseeable future?
Dirk: I predict a lot of new challenges within the PET sector. There are so many different countries, each one with different rules and legislations, different guidelines, rPET… But we are used to this changing environment and it has always been in our nature to adapt and reinvent ourselves accordingly. That’s why I’m very confident that – as a team – we will have no difficulties to keep up.
PETplanet: What are your future plans in terms of business development? Where is CHP planning to invest?
Dirk: The focus has been on innovation for a while now and we are not planning on changing that any time soon. We started installing our new CHP Alert system on retrofit projects and on all of our new installations. It is important for plant & line managers and operators to have a live overview of line data at all times – 24/7. Industry 4.0 and IOT are becoming a very big part of our daily lives.
Besides that, we are also looking at fast growing markets within our own field of activity. We are about to invest in the USA, where we are looking for an acquisition in order to expand our presence. CHP is also realising its first success stories in China and we are currently developing our network in South-East Asia and Russia.
PETplanet: Thank you very much.