Packaging that Creates Success

Interview with Stefan Wüthrich, CEO of Kern AG

Stefan Wüthrich, CEO of Kern AG
Stefan Wüthrich, CEO of Kern AG

E-commerce is growing, and with it the need for packaging solutions. Kern AG from Switzerland is an expert in envelope inserting and packaging machines. With highly automated and modular solutions, the company meets the increasing market demands. In addition, Kern AG supports its customers with round-the-clock service.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Wüthrich, you offer a wide range of machinery related to envelope stuffing and packaging. What are the bestsellers or flagships in your program?

Stefan Wüthrich: The Kern 3200 is currently our most technologically advanced machine, a packaging machine for the mail sector that can be fully automated for adjustment. Its availability is extremely high, as well as its ease of use. Our entry-level solution, which is used a lot by printing companies and insurance firms, for example, is the Kern 1600. However, it can be scaled up if the need arises. Our entire portfolio is based on a platform, allowing operators to switch from one system to another without any problems. They can also assemble the solution as needed on a modular basis.

Kern AG - Service Employee
The company's customers have access to a service around the clock
Kern AG - Maintenance
The employees of Kern have experience and sound expertise

Wirtschaftsforum: In which area do you see increased potential for the coming time?

Stefan Wüthrich: Our latest development in the field of packaging solutions is our PackOnTime 2box multi-format packaging system. The volume in the e-commerce market is rising, in some countries even by double digits. With this growth, the demand for custom packaging solutions that require minimal material usage is increasing. Through a 3-D process, orders are measured and then placed in tailor-made packages. The package is of high quality, fully enclosed, has a small buffer zone, and a tear strip, which simplifies returns.

Wirtschaftsforum: Does this mean that environmental protection, or sustainability, is an issue in the industry?

Stefan Wüthrich: Sustainability is a big topic among our customers. It is mainly about recycling materials and reducing the space and energy consumption of the machines. We see ourselves as a company with a responsibility and try to minimize our own ecological footprint as well. In Switzerland, the distances are not so great and we predominantly use electric cars. We are trying to increasingly do the same in Germany as well.

Kern Ag - PackOnTime 2box
The PackOnTime 2box tailors packages for orders

Wirtschaftsforum: How digital are your machines?

Stefan Wüthrich: Some of our clients process tens of thousands of documents. Here, all documents are monitored, tracked, and ensured. Especially with critical data, for example from banks or insurances, the topic of data protection is important. The systems are fully networked. Everything is reported and controlled, so that absolute traceability is guaranteed. In the past few months, we have also developed a concept into which we can integrate our customers via a ticket system. This allows us to respond more quickly to requirements or problems. We are also working on digitization in our supply chain, so that the right spare parts get to the customer as quickly as possible. In addition, this makes the value chain more transparent for the customer.

Wirtschaftsforum: What are currently your core markets?

Stefan Wüthrich: Besides our home market Switzerland, Germany and the USA are our most important markets. We have our own subsidiaries in both countries. Moreover, we have branches in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. For the coming period, we see particularly potential in Germany, as the wave of digitization is still approaching there, as well in France and Asia.

Kern Ag - Kern 3200
The Kern 3200 flash is a modular fully automated multi-format envelope inserting system

Wirtschaftsforum: You have already launched your first automated system at the end of the 1960s. What has made the company so successful over the decades?

Stefan Wüthrich: Everything with us is ‘Made in Switzerland’ – that is still an international hallmark of quality. Moreover, our name stands for innovation. We are reliable and above all, our customers appreciate our service. We support them in all areas, around the clock, 365 days a year. We never leave them alone. That is why we also have numerous regular customers.

Wirtschaftsforum: What topics will you focus on this year?

Stefan Wüthrich: Since our order books are full, we are actively recruiting a lot. We have also increased the number of machines we are producing. It is planned to expand our workforce again, to develop new technologies and solutions, not only for enveloping but also to gain market shares in the packaging market. We will make our machines even more compact in the future to be able to set them up faster and more cost-efficiently.