Do you know NIKODAN’s history and our various business areas?
You can read about this, and many other exciting topics, in the article below. The article is published in Inside Food & Drink magazine, which is a magazine with a business-oriented focus within the food industry.
The article deals with NIKODAN’s history and the various conditions that have contributed to our growth over a number of years. You can also read about our experience working within the dairy industry and an interesting project where we have delivered machines for handling and transporting croissants.
We are quite sure that you will find information about us in the article that you did not know beforehand. The article can be read here:
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NIKODAN Process Equipment, based in Denmark, designs and manufactures complete automation solutions and conveyors for several markets. Within the food industry, NIKODAN Process Equipment has earned a formidable reputation for solving complex automation challenges in food production, with conveying solutions and integrations that ‘close the gaps’ in processes. Sales Director Ranj Azad spoke to Richard Hagan about the company’s ability to find intelligent solutions.
NIKODAN Process Equipment was established in 1987 by Nikolas Zimaras, hailing from Greece. The company began as a small steel fabrication company consisting of less than six people, completing welding projects and similar jobs based on customer-issued drawings.
History and growth
The company’s processes and staff complement gradually grew in sophistication, as did the scope of its work. Soon, it was developing bespoke solutions for key customers and this pattern of innovation and evolution continues to the present day.
In 2015, the Swedish equity fund Lagercrantz Group acquired NIKODAN Process Equipment which now employs 70 staff members across all departments in its single 5,500sqm location in Denmark. The factory proudly retains over 90% of its manufacturing needs in-house, thanks to a comprehensive roster of equipment and production assets including CNC machines, welding facilities and even glass-blowing facilities.
These robust manufacturing capabilities and a respected market presence brought NIKODAN Process Equipment continued rapid growth. Between 2019 and 2020, it delivered approximately 1,500 conveyor systems and by 2022, that number had risen to 3,500 per year.
Throughout its growth, operations remained focused on fabrication using only stainless steel. Fabrication using stainless steel requires considerably more skill and complexity, but this is the gold standard for hygiene within the food industry. Use of stainless steel as a raw material is non-negotiable at NIKODAN Process Equipment.
The food industry is a vibrant market for NIKODAN Process Equipment, which enjoys strong growth in the dairy category, according to Sales Director Ranj Azad. “We’re seeing annual growth of 4-5% in dairy, particularly in the processing of cheese and blocks of cheese. The Scandinavian and European markets in general are very strong markets for us due to our market knowledge and specialist skills.”
NIKODAN Process Equipment works closely with several major cheese makers around Scandinavia and Germany, for whom it offers cheese and cheese block distribution solutions. These systems mean that cheese blocks are correctly arranged and aligned on the conveyor belt, after which its solutions ensure that the cheese is safely distributed into the packaging process.
“Customers in this space have very strict requirements, especially with regard to hygiene,” said Mr Azad. “With our experience, knowledge and processes, we’re able to solve the various challenges that dairy makers bring us, while adhering to their strict hygiene requirements.”
Putting pastry in its place
A recent bakery project is also a particular highlight for NIKODAN Process Equipment. This project required baked croissants to be distributed to flow wrappers, with an integrated buffer system, in case one of the flow wrappers experienced a fault.
But first, NIKODAN Process Equipment’s teams had to overcome a major challenge: “The croissants couldn’t just be fed directly from the conveyors,” Mr Azad explained. “We had to resolve a difficult space issue; we couldn’t simply build multiple lines feeding into the seven flow wrappers. There just wasn’t enough space. Consequently, we designed one line to distribute the croissants to all seven flow wrappers.”
The finished project delivered a 2.5m wide conveyor belt hosting several rows of croissants, feeding all seven flow wrappers through the same single line. “That solution really proved our ability to innovate,” he said. “It was a very complex project with difficult space problems.
“In a contract like that, one cannot simply take the easiest route and you have to think ‘out of the box’ for a solution. This project required us to solve many mechanical and automation challenges, but it was exciting for us. We did it really well and helped achieve the customer’s output targets.”
The client is so satisfied with the solution delivered by NIKODAN Process Equipment that they have indicated that an additional line will be ordered in 2023.
Trust the process
NIKODAN Process Equipment is broadly active across three main categories: food, non-food, and pharmaceuticals. Within all markets, however, it is specialised in incorporating niche operations into conveying systems. “Once again, it’s all about closing the gaps in conveyor systems,” Mr Azad emphasised. “We’re very well-known for our skill at distributing rows, for example, our pull-nose product can change the direction of belts.
“In the bakery market, we have croissant distribution and automation skills, moving products from the oven to flow wrappers or thermoformers. Within dairy, we’re skilled at distribution; turning and moving mozzarella cheese blocks, and integration of robots to pick up the blocks and place them in the thermoformers.”
Illustrating that point, in 2021 NIKODAN Process Equipment supplied a mozzarella cheese block distribution system to a customer in a project that has been so successful that an additional system has been ordered for delivery in 2025.
The company has applied similar logic and expertise to confectionery lines, mainly gums and chocolate bars, to align them properly before reaching the flow wrapper. For the meat industry, NIKODAN Process Equipment also offers a pull-nose shuttle conveyor for fillets and burgers
Robust robots & sustainability
NIKODAN Process Equipment is reviewing pick-and-place robots for future integration into customer solutions, which are expected to deliver fine manipulation with complete control. “Many conveyor systems still use employees picking up and moving or manipulating products,” said Mr Azad. “We find, therefore, that more customers are looking into full automation. So, that’s an area, with robotics, in which we can really enhance our solutions and add value for our customers.”
Thanks to its extremely robust engineering, NIKODAN Process Equipment installations are a boon for both its own and customers’ sustainability efforts. “The robustness of our machinery is one of the best sustainability highlights for us,” he remarked. “Our installations can operate for years; we have people occasionally come to us seeking spare parts for machines that we delivered 20 years ago! Our machinery won’t need to be replaced in two to five years. It’s very sustainable.”
Sustainability is a key issue with NIKODAN Process Equipment’s customers, who look to their suppliers to help reduce CO2 emissions. “This is something we take seriously,” Mr Azad said. “We’ve hired a Sustainability Manager to ensure all actions are being implemented and we’re meeting customer’s requirements and expectations. NIKODAN Process Equipment converted to wind energy, reducing our CO2 emissions. We’re also exploring how to develop our solutions that help customers reach a lower CO2 impact, offering designs and motors that are more efficient and more sustainable.”
The best way for a company to be sustainable is to look internally, according to Mr Azad: “Understand how to make sustainability a general requirement for suppliers. In turn, it’s also a good idea to help your customers become more energy efficient.”
In the meantime, the company is looking forward to a strong 2023 and 2024, according to Mr Azad: “The food industry is resilient, and we expect demand to remain strong. We’re excited to continue solving our customers’ production challenges, while developing innovative solutions for new enquiries.”