But Cees starting fiddling around with the machine – even going so far as to take it completely apart – and found that the process could be speeded up: by an impressing 35 percent, no less. Yet Cees still wasn’t satisfied at this point, and he also knew the next step in the process would require closer analysis and a more effective action plan. “It’s best to get the design right from the very start rather than breaking out the grinder and smoothing out the sharp edges later on.” And so he sat down at the drawing board and started sketching a plan...
This marked Vetipak’s first attempt to develop our own machines, which means we had to start analyzing both the mechanics and the operation of our equipment. We started out by teaming up with a third party, but soon decided to hire our first in-house developer. This decision paid off, as well as garnering Vetipak respect across the industry – although we were still viewed by some for a while as a bunch of “IT cowboys.”
Cees, reminiscing: “Our COO Mark van der Burgt and I once attended a convention abroad, and when he finished his presentation on automation and robotization, the whole room fell silent. They weren’t expecting that from that contract packager from the Netherlands...”
He continues: “And at the offices of a major technology company, we once had a couple of ‘suits’, so to speak, make fun of us. We wanted to use a robot cell to pick up transparent boxes using vision technology, and they told us that was impossible. Well, it turned out they were wrong.” The triumphant look in Cees’ eyes speaks volumes: this is clearly a man talking about his passion.
Cees confesses he kind of likes being referred to as a ‘cowboy’. “You know what? If you want to be ahead of the pack, you need to be unafraid to take risk, stick your neck out, and explore new avenues others aren’t exploring or are afraid to pursue. People tend to be a little taken aback – even right here in the company – when we get all gung-ho like that, and even Arno and I need to tell each other to slow down occasionally. But if you don’t think in terms of opportunities, it’s never going to happen, so we’re quite happy in our role as trailblazers.”