Haydens Bakeries produces a range of tarts for the Waitrose supermarket chain and the success of the Tart au Citron and Tart au Chocolat products has inevitably led to an increase in orders from the company.
Hence the need for a more modern packaging line to replace the outdated manual system previously in use at the plant.
Mike Price, who was Haydens continuous improvements manager before he moved to another part of parent company The Real Good Food Company, explained that the hiring solution was the key to the deal with PA.
"We were finding that with increased orders coming through we needed a more efficient way of packing the desserts to make sure we fulfilled all our orders and delivered reliable service. So we had to do something, and quickly."
The short term solution was to hire a PA2016 MAP-V heat sealing machine from Packaging Automation, a decision justified by a further increase in orders from Waitrose and the need for a further upgrade - to the faster Vision 182 MAP-V, a machine aimed specifically at mid-sized companies without a massive plant budget.
"The Vision 182 was designed to incorporate the best design features of our popular PA182 with the latest technology. We aimed it specifically at those companies with a limited budget but who wanted - like Haydens Bakeries - to turn a semi-automatic line into one which is fully automated," said Packaging Automation's sales manager Neil Ashton.
Packaging Automation was established in 1963 and is the UK's leading manufacturer of heat sealing machinery for the food industry, producing a wide range of machines from simple manual units and semi-automatics through to in-line fully automated systems.
Given the large number of small and medium-sized operators in the UK food industry - and the increasing importance of own brand manufacturing to the UK food retail sector - the company was quick to see the advantage of a hire scheme to companies with limited budgets or irregular production schedules.
"PA were the first company in the heat sealing industry to offer hire of equipment - we hired our first machines back in the early 1970s," a company spokesman told BakeryandSnacks.com. "The most popular model then was the PA102, which was a very basic manually operated bench top machine for sealing one pack at a time. People were using these machines to seal desserts, confectionery, pies and biscuits."
A hiring system was particularly important in developing the market for what was, at the time, a new technology. "This was the very early days in heat sealing so many customers weren't interested in investing in machines, especially when they didn't know if heat sealed packs would take off. Hire actually helped to grow the heat sealing market by making it accessible to even small companies, and to those who were very conservative in their choices and were unprepared to take the risk of investing in a new form of packaging."
The heat sealing market has clearly developed rapidly since then, but PA continues to hire out most of its machines, not least because there is still considerable demand for the scheme, which allows companies to test the efficiency of the machinery before buying it outright.
"The hire period can be as short as a couple of weeks or as long as several years, although most companies don't hire for that long anymore, choosing to purchase the hire machine once they have a proven need for the machine."
So important has the hiring of machinery become to PA that it has actively invested in this part of its business, allowing it to guarantee delivery even at short notice - as short as three days in some cases. The increasing specialisation of the food industry - with many smaller companies focusing on niche markets and product sectors - has also increased the demand for short-term hiring solutions.
"We have a total fleet of more than 250 machines providing a continuous revenue stream to us. It allows us to tap into the start up end of the food industry as well as those customers who have seasonal production (e.g. Christmas products, Easter, summer barbecue products, etc.) where people maybe wouldn't choose to heat seal their products if the only option was outright purchase."
All of which, of course, continues to fly the flag for heat sealing as a packaging solution, further growing the market for PA's products. What started out as a pragmatic approach to developing the heat sealing market has turned into a veritable showcase for the company's products, and as long as demand continues to grow - driven by specialist food manufacturers, in-store retail bakeries and delicatessens or simply successfully growing companies such as Haydens - the hire scheme will continue to be a lucrative source of income for PA.