Sunday 29th Mar, 2020

New year, new name for Kockums Bulk Systems

It has been almost two years since Premier Tech acquired Kockums Bulk Systems (KBS). Francois Steyn, KBS Managing Director, speaks to ABHR about what the company has in store for 2020 and what its new name will be.

It has been almost two years since Premier Tech acquired Kockums Bulk Systems (KBS). Francois Steyn, KBS Managing Director, speaks to ABHR about what the company has in store for 2020 and what its new name will be.

In 2018, news broke that Australian pneumatic conveying and powder handling company Kockums Bulk Systems (KBS) had been acquired by Canadian company Premier Tech.

The acquisition helped Premier Tech establish a beachhead in the Australian market, increasing its worldwide reach and reinforcing its local engineering and support capabilities.

Now, almost two years since the acquisition, Francois Steyn, the Managing Director of KBS, says both companies have become much closer.

“It’s like having a big brother. We’ve been able to expand our knowledge, training and tools,” he says.

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With additional international assistance, KBS began to expand its packaging business, develop its powder handling offering for export and aggressively grow its support business to cover all KBS and Premier Tech installations across Oceania.

Packaging, which had previously been a much smaller part of KBS’ business, suddenly became the main event, according to Steyn.

“Since Premier Tech came on board, the increased product line vastly widened our scope of offering. We’ve been able to get into other industries where we haven’t been able to before.”

One of the main benefits of Premier Tech’s offering is that KBS can vertically integrate into processes upstream of the packing line. Steyn says it is common to see companies focusing on integrating a new production line but don’t give much thought to the bagging system until later.

“We regularly get invited into the processes discussion, which helps us get early notice of a project,” he says.

An example of this can be seen when KBS began working with a large flour producer. KBS introduced the concept of dense phase pneumatic conveying to the flour company, showcasing the benefits compared with traditional methods of conveying.

Dense phase pneumatic conveying moves powders through a pipeline with as little air as possible. This is because the air is the most expensive part of the process, and by increasing the pressure and dropping the volume, it creates an economical way of conveying.

Steyn says KBS got involved with the project because of Premier Tech’s bagging machine for the flour industry, the Premier Tech Flour Bagger, also known as the PTF.

“It’s an absolute game changer, this machine,” he says. “The PTF is a combination of proven technologies reconfigured to allow the machine to bag at high rates and still maintain accuracy. Two features that are not often seen together in our industry.”

Customer support has been a priority across 2019, with KBS aiming to continue to ramp up the growth of its support team.

KBS employs non-traditional methods when it comes to service, focusing on customer engagement and education to teach them the ins and outs of a machine. KBS’s service teams go out and help their customers understand how to get the most value out of the machine, teaching them some of the operational secrets and tricks.

Steyn says that by doing this, KBS also learns a lot about how its customers interact with its products and uses these insights to improve designs.

“When an operator works with a machine for months on end, they very quickly learn how to best use some of the features,” he says.

“We make a big point of servicing our customers through the first year, from day one after we hand over the equipment. We offer a detailed program for the first year that we want to start as early as possible, so that our customers know they’re covered.

“This reduced the amount of warranties we have by a big number. By training the customer’s operating and maintenance team, we ensure the machines are taken care off and this is the most important part of consistently achieving high throughput and longevity.”

Changing names

Kockums Bulk Systems will be changing its name to Premier Tech Systems and Automation over the next 12 months. The Kockums name will continue to live on as the brand for all our  bulk handling solutions.

This aligns with all of the other brands and businesses acquired by Premier Tech, which is undergoing a worldwide rebranding process.

“Whenever we ship a piece of materials handling equipment, be it a vessel or a structure, the Kockums name will still be on it, as a Premier Tech brand,” Steyn explains.

The business has put in extensive work to ensure the transition to the new name will be as smooth as possible, updating its IT systems, branding and signage as well. Steyn says it’s important to get the move right, as the Kockums name remains strong and trusted within the industry.

One event that will provide Kockums a platform to explain its new name to the industry is BULK2020. The company is a platinum sponsor of the event, which will bring the bulk handling industry together on 1 to 3 April, 2020, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

BULK2020 will play an important role in this transition for the company, according to Steyn, as it provides a platform for KBS to explain to the industry that the KBS team, which they have come to know and trust, is still alive and very well, just under a different name.

“It’s very encouraging to see how many people in the industry we have a strong relationship with,” he says.

“New customers will also be able to engage with our technology and learn more about how we can help. It will be a place for our customers to visit and spin a yarn with our guys on the stand.”

Premier Tech aims to make a difference through its people and technology. Automation is a key part of this goal, whether it is a first time automator or a corporation expanding existing facilities. The process of undertaking this change is often stressful and uncertain, which is why Premier Tech aims to help customers through the process.

Steyn says it’s not only about the technology, but also about being a trusted partner from where the idea takes shape to where the change is implemented and delivered. He adds that delivering change is not linear and transactional, it’s complex and works well when there is a relationship based on trust.

For the year ahead, KBS is looking to become comfortable operating under the new Premier Tech name, culture and values.

“We’re excited for the change and want everyone to know we’re the same Kockums wearing a new Premier Tech jacket,” Steyn says.

“In the future, we hope to see more of the KBS bulk handling projects integrated with Premier Tech packaging lines worldwide. There’s still a lot to do, but we’re all excited to keep growing.”