Stemmer sees 'explosion' in food sector orders amid Covid fears

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Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Stemmer Imaging has said that the company at this point sees 'a softening' in the markets it serves, but that this is 'not catastrophic' at the moment.

The comments were made by Mark Williamson, Stemmer Imaging's corporate marketing director, speaking to Imaging and Machine Vision Europe.

He said: 'For sure, the impact of the Covid-19 virus is unknown at this time. However, anyone would be naive to think it won’t lead to some kind of downturn.'

But, Williamson also said that many of Stemmer Imaging's customers in the food and agriculture markets have brought forward implementing projects in light of demand for reliable food supply to supermarkets.

'This [food and agriculture] was a key market for us before. However, its growth is accelerating. There has been an explosion in orders from these customers especially in the 3D area,' he said.

Stemmer Imaging's staff have been encouraged to volunteer if they have a reduced workload, and its Spanish subsidiary, Infaimon, has been helping supply face masks to healthcare workers.

Spain is Europe's second worst-hit country after Italy, and the number of deaths in the country from Covid-19 has now passed 10,000.

Infaimon has been helping manufacture face masks using 3D printers. The masks will be distributed to hospitals through Eurecat - Centro Tecnológico de Catalunya.

The social distancing measures has forced staff at Stemmer Imaging to work in new ways, Williamson said. 'Like all companies we are looking hard at [how we] protect our staff and the business,' he added.

Stemmer Imaging has implemented social distancing in all areas of its sites. For production, this means splitting shifts over a longer day to protect staff, while also ensuring the security of supply of components. The company has also increased stock levels to maintain its service.

Many of its staff are now working from home. Williamson commented: 'By having to work in new ways remotely, communication has in fact improved through these new collaboration tools and new processes for the better. I'm sure the outcome will be a better and more efficient organisation going forward.'

Stemmer Imaging is also in the process of introducing virtual versions of its training courses. 'This always was a goal,' Williamson said. 'However, now there is a direct need, this roll-out is being accelerated.'

He also gave an insight into the support offered to the business in different countries. 'I have had the role of co-ordinating what support each country can get in the event of a downturn, and the differences are immense, as are the effects of business in each country,' he said. 'We are ready with plans in each country.'

Stemmer Imaging has recently appointed Uwe Kemm to its executive board, as Martin Kersting steps down for personal reasons.

Kemm will be responsible for development and implementation of key initiatives in the context of corporate strategy in addition to overseeing operations in key business units.

Kersting will remain involved in the company in an advisory function.

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