The heart of Signature Snacks pulsates at the centre of the United Arab Emirates. The manufacturer of wafers, crackers, biscuits, chocolate-coated dates, dried fruits and nuts is continuing to expand. Today, the company from Dubai exports its products to 77 countries around the world. And when it comes to weighing and packaging its premium foods, Signature Snacks relies on solutions supplied by Hastamat Verpackungstechnik.
There isn’t a cloud in the sky above Dubai on this December day. While temperatures at the home of the German packaging machine manufacturer Hastamat are close to zero, the thermometer here reads a pleasant 26 degrees. In his spacious office, Nizar Rajoub is sitting at his desk. The founder and CEO of Signature Snacks is happy to offer visitors a strong cup of Arabic coffee, proudly serving tasty wafers, crackers or biscuits from his factory to go with it. Rajoub turns towards the window and points at the Burj Khalifa. Looking at the spire of the highest building in the world, located not two kilometres away, he says: “That’s where we want to go with Signature Snacks – to the very top. Our goal is to build a reputation as the market-leading, highest-value and most trusted food brand in the world.” His airy confidence is not without reason: launched in 2014, Signature Snacks has seen remarkable growth in a very short time. The company presently employs 250 people and exports to 77 countries – a figure that is rapidly growing. In total, Signature Snacks makes 17 different products with a range of flavours, covering everything from wafers with a caramel cream filling to dates coated with chocolate. The food specialist’s product catalogue currently includes 64 separate items. “We set the highest standards for our products and supply customers with a delicious, natural premium product that does away with artificial colouring or flavour enhancers,” says Rajoub, outlining key elements of the company’s philosophy. “The customer is the judge of our food – that’s the critical factor for our product development.”
Packaging that meets all needs
The CEO doesn’t only set his sights high for the products – their packaging, too, must also meet stringent requirements. “For a company that makes products for consumers, the issue of packaging is an important one that strongly influences the decision to buy or not buy,” says Rajoub. Preserving freshness and ensuring gentle treatment of the products is also of particular relevance to foods. “The full experience of our snacks is only unleashed once they are enclosed in appealing and technically perfect packaging. Premium products deserve premium packaging.” Just how seriously CEO Rajoub takes this topic can be seen a few kilometres from the head office, at Dubai Investment Park, where Signature Snacks runs a modern industrial plant that meets the highest production standards. The hustle and bustle here mirrors the atmosphere in the thriving metropolis of Dubai. On the ultra-clean dark green industrial floor, six gleaming silver packaging machines made by German manufacturer Hastamat Verpackungstechnik stand alongside the processing machines. The company, based in Lahnau, Hesse, supplies not only complete packaging lines comprising multihead weighers and vertical baggers, but also flexible product feeder systems to convey, buffer and combine the snacks. “Signature has around 300 metres of conveyor lines and multihead weighers from our CP series, various RM-250 series vertical baggers and a multihead weigher on a horizontal packaging machine,” says Marco Hinter, head of sales and marketing at Hastamat.
Several tons of output an hour
The equipment supplied by the German special-purpose machine manufacturer packs Signature Snacks’ entire production output in flow packs. “We’re talking about an output of three to four tons that’s weighed, checked using integrated metal detectors and packed into various flow pack types and sizes every hour,” says Hinter, listing the impressive figures. One key argument was the machines’ outstanding performance levels. “Our multihead weighers perform between 120 and 200 weighing procedures a minute,” says the sales and marketing manager. The products are transported to the weighers via a central distribution system and then gently packed by the baggers.
Teamwork for an ideal outcome
Signature Snacks and Hastamat first made contact at the Gulfood exhibition – the new hotspot for the food industry in the Middle East. “We then found out more about the company’s performance and its technical solutions, which sealed our decision to cooperate,” says Signature CEO Rajoub, looking back at the beginnings of the partnership. The Hastamat engineers needed to address a number of product handling challenges: as just one example, the packaging process had to account for the fact that the chocolate-coated dates vary in size. Signature Snacks’ products are also in part fragile and must be packed extremely gently. “Hastamat’s innovative engineering delivered a solution to every one of our demands. And today, in ongoing operations, we can see that everything works just as we imagined it would,” says Rajoub with praise for the performance of the Hessian special-purpose machinery manufacturer. The CEO is particularly taken by his partner’s unswerving dedication to its customers. “Hastamat machines work efficiently, just like the entire team behind them. They didn’t simply sell products but worked hand in hand with us to make a success of the project and achieve the very best in performance.” Clear communication and quick decision-making also went down especially well with the food producer from the Emirates. Marco Hinter is delighted by this praise: “We modified our existing machine platforms to meet Signature Snacks’ specific requirements. The various parties involved have since built up a close and trusting relationship.”
Excellent after-sales service
During and after installation of the machines, Hastamat provided in-depth on-site training with the customer. Signature and Hastamat work closely together when it comes to service. “A service engineer from Germany flies in for an inspection once or twice a year, and the rest of the time we use remote access to provide assistance at short notice. In such cases, we directly access the machinery software from Lahnau,” explains Hinter. Nizar Rajoub adds, “Hastamat offered us complete in-house service – from custom project planning to on-site installation and all the way to comprehensive service. The after-sales team is extremely reliable and responds quickly if a problem occurs.” Production is now in full swing, just like Signature Snacks’ overall business, and all signs point to further expansion. CEO Rajoub thus has his sights firmly set on the next step of his aim to be the best in the world: “We’re already planning to build another factory.” Established production processes with machines from Hastamat will assist him on this new project.