Aerosol can line commissioned remotely in Hungary

New equipment for an aluminium aerosol can line in Hungary has been successfully commissioned remotely, despite the problems – including travel restrictions – imposed by the coronavirus lockdown.

Mátrametál Kft, located about 80km east of Budapest, decided last year to buy the €10 million impact extrusion line from Germany’s Hinterkopf, following rising demand for its monobloc aerosol cans.

Although most of machines and parts had been delivered in February, the remaining items – including Hinterkopf’s first-ever impact-extrusion press – arrived at the Sirok-Kőkútpuszta plant during the middle of March, not long before lockdown was imposed.

Founded 50 years ago in a former armaments plant, Mátrametál makes more than 85 million aerosol cans a year on five aerosol canmaking lines.

Despite the problems caused by coronavirus, demand for aerosol cans from customers remained high. It was therefore critical to commission and start-up the new aerosol line promptly.

Since the borders between countries had been closed since the end of March, it was necessary to become creative and seek new ways to bring the new production line up to speed.

Using remote access, online tools, many phone calls, video conferencing, email and WhatsApp chats with Hinterkopf at Eislingen, 950km west of Mátrametál, the project was able to continue. And, thanks to the initiative and determination of everyone involved, it was possible to start up the production line at the beginning of April.

Chief executive of Hinterkopf, Alexander Hinterkopf, admitted that a number of steps made the commissioning process challenging. The first two, shipping the equipment using subcontractors and installation, he described as “easy”.

The third, start-up, was more difficult because the line used Hinterkopf’s first impact-extrusion press following the acquisition of designs from Schuler last year, and for which manuals in Hungarian had yet to be prepared. “Then there was the need for translations during the start-up, which were even more tiring because of the terminology differences and interruptions to the communications,” said Hinterkopf. “More difficult was the debugging, because that needs feedback during fine-tuning which was more time-consuming on-line.”

In a statement, Mátrámetal said: “Remarkable initiative and determination by everyone involved made it possible to start-up the production line at the beginning of April.

“Thanks to the management, the 360 colleagues and their dedicated hard work, instead of the economic stagnation caused by the epidemic, we could give our region another competitive advantage.”