Living with the coronavirus at Krones: Part 4 – Krones provides support

When I think back to my visits to the supermarkets and drugstores in March, the first thing that springs to mind is some rather empty shelves: noodles, flour and yeast, in particular, plus loo paper and disinfectants, were as far as I could see the top-five items on the Germans’ panic-buying lists.

And whereas if you want to believe expert opinion regular and thorough washing of your hands is sufficient for protecting against infection at least in the private environment, in medical practices and institutions the use of disinfectants is indispensable. Though here too, of course, demand for them has currently reached unprecedented heights, adequate resupply is assured – with one restriction, however: many institutions are receiving the disinfectants in large-size containers, which in practice are difficult to handle… Moreover, many medical and also welfare institutions are at present facing the additional problem of having to provide options for disinfection at a vastly greater number of points than before – but there is a definite shortage of suitable containers.

And this is precisely where Krones has now stepped in: because if there’s one thing we know inside out, it’s containers. So Krones supports hospitals, government agencies, police stations and fire brigades with its expertise on everything to do with producing and filling re-usable PET containers. In mid-March, we were already supplying Regensburg University Clinic with 5,000 half-litre PET containers for transferring disinfectants from large-size containers into these. But let’s be honest: manual transfer from a canister into the small containers which can then be fitted into pump dispensers is not only incredibly time-consuming but also labour-intensive. But Krones wouldn’t be Krones if the company hadn’t come up with a solution for this as well: to tell the truth, our machines actually fill beverages and liquid food – but to relieve the workload of the University Clinic’s in-house pharmacy, our filling-technology experts provided vivid proof not only of their know-how when it comes to filling liquids but also and on top of this of a goodly portion of spontaneity, and within just a few days designed what is so far the smallest filler in the firm’s history – and one for filling disinfectants into the bargain. This is now located at Regensburg University Clinic, providing valuable assistance to the staff there in refilling disinfectants.

Because the demand for containers for antiseptic liquids of this kind was high not only at Regensburg University Clinic, of course, but in many other institutions as well, Krones produced at its plant in Neutraubling more 500-millilitre PET bottles. By the beginning of May, 400,000 containers with closure had already been made available to hospitals, police stations and fire brigades all over Germany, at cost. A second batch of 500,000 bottles is currently being produced. Similar support initiatives were during the past few weeks and months also ongoing outside Germany: our Austrian subsidiary Kosme, for example, gave 9,000 bottles that were left over from stretch blow-moulding tests in the factory to the fire brigades in Lower Austria, and our subsidiary in the US, Krones Inc., in April produced more than 10,000 PET containers in its plant in Franklin, WI, for the local pediatric hospital.

The Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs likewise got in touch with Krones, requesting support – in this case not only in the shape of empty containers and a filling appliance. What they needed was bottles filled with disinfectant, sealed and packed ready for use. And since neither Krones nor any of its clients produce and fill disinfectants themselves, KIC Krones came up with the perfect solution: as the group’s consumables expert, this subsidiary has in the field of contract production a long-standing cooperation arrangement with a paint and varnish manufacturer, which has now played a vital role in this current inquiry: the disinfectants bottled and packaged on behalf of KIC Krones are then distributed by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs to institutions in the state.

To say that the ongoing situation also has a positive aspect would now perhaps be overly euphemistic. But with the sheer plethora of challenges we’re currently facing it’s nice to see after all how everybody is providing mutual assistance as best they can – and how thanks to no-fuss cooperation, project teams pragmatically put together and universally embraced togetherness, support can be given fast and unbureaucratically wherever help is urgently needed.