How will the minikeg of the future be produced?

Thinner sheet metal, energy-efficient production, PFAS-free coatings - these are just a few of the key issues that the Beverage Division at Envases Öhringen will be addressing in the medium term. The world market leader Envases Öhringen is currently setting the course for the future with many technical innovations and high investments in sustainability. Wilfried Hermann, who has been Head of Operations Beverage and Head of Plant 2 in Öhringen for a year, talks about the biggest challenges and explains why, for him, people are at the center of all decisions.

Making Minikeg fit for the future is your main task as Head of Operations Beverage and Head of Plant 2 in Öhringen. What is particularly important to you in this regard?


Wilfried Hermann: The people I work with are particularly important to me! Of course, the core of my job is to ensure that health and safety requirements are met, that the very high quality standards are met, and that the technical side of our production is coordinated and optimized. For me, the focus is always on my employees. After all, people are always the most important factor in a company! That’s why I’ve been working intensively on organizational structures and team building over the past few months. I also see myself as a ” counselor ” for my employees, for their concerns and needs. Occupational safety and health protection are the top priorities for me. The fact that I myself have a practical background is a great help. This reduces inhibitions, and people talk to each other at eye level, so that I was well accepted right from the start. Basically, it is important for me to live and realize the values and visions of our owner with my team, which I stand behind 100 percent.


At Envases the Minikeg comes completely from one source

Envases is the world market leader in the field of minikegs. What particularly distinguishes the Öhringen production site?

We do have all production steps completely on site. Only recently – as the last piece of the puzzle, so to speak – a coil cutting machine was installed. This enables us to cut the metal sheets directly from the coil using precision laser technology. This means that the minikeg of the future is now manufactured 100 percent in our company, from the raw material to the finished barrel. That is unique in Europe! Of course, you also have to be up-to-date in terms of technology – and that is definitely our claim here in Öhringen. I have already met many companies in my career. I have never experienced such a joy in development and such a pronounced spirit of innovation as at Envases!

What specifically does that mean? Which innovations have been implemented recently or are still planned in the near future?

Over the next few years, there are simply an incredible number of projects that have already been approved and some of which have already been initiated. We are constantly developing further! Right next to our Plant 2, we recently opened the new distribution center, which sets the latest standards in terms of warehouse organization. Whether it’s new machines for painting, cutting systems or robot cells – Envases is investing really large sums across all areas here in Öhringen. Artificial intelligence is also playing an increasingly important role in making our employees’ work processes easier and increasing efficiency. I really enjoy developing the minikeg even further for the future when you notice how much commitment is behind it from everyone involved and how much is being done for it!


New maintenance concept for even more efficiency

Werksleiter Wilfried Hermann

As plant manager, Wilfried Hermann ensures that everything runs smoothly at Envases’ minikeg production.

What are the biggest challenges here?

The supplier situation is difficult in some respects, especially in the electronics sector. At present, you can wait 1 to 1.5 years for an order, and spare parts are extremely hard to come by. We have to adjust to this – for example, by changing our system availability. Instead of carrying out major maintenance every year, as we have done in the past, we will be focusing on shorter and more regular intervals in the future. We are currently working on a comprehensive concept for this, because it is important that regular operation does not suffer as a result.

The topic of sustainability is becoming increasingly important. To what extent does this also affect the minikeg production?

Sustainability is one of the top priorities at Envases in all areas. And a great deal is also invested in this regard – such as the 3.4 million euros recently invested in a huge photovoltaic system for plants 1 and 2 here in Öhringen. Because when it comes to sustainability, energy efficiency is of course the be-all and end-all. As recently as 2022, Envases Europe was awarded the bronze medal in the EcoVadis assessment system. At the beginning of the year, the company joined the Scienced Based Target Initiative, which aims to define binding, science-based goals and measures to make the entire company even more sustainable. The seriousness and long-term approach with which Envases tackles these issues clearly shows the importance these values also have for the owner.


The minikeg of the future becomes more sustainable

What are the biggest challenges for the minikeg of the future?

As mentioned, the topic of sustainability is at the top of the agenda. In the course of this, we are also concerned with reducing material consumption. Making the sheet metal for our minikegs even thinner in the future without compromising quality standards is a major challenge for the future. And there’s an enormous amount riding on it, because the entire systems are of course designed for specific material thicknesses and can’t simply process thinner sheets. In addition, there are always new changes in standards and specifications to which we have to adapt. One example is the use of certain industrial chemicals known as PFAS, which are used, for instance, as lubricants for paints. Some American states have only recently banned them, and it is expected that such a ban will be in place throughout the EU in 2025. We must be able to offer alternatives as quickly as possible in order to safeguard competitiveness and generate new markets. After all, the beverage sector certainly has a growth potential. Envases definitely wants to be at the forefront of the global market with its minikegs!


Personal details: Wilfried Hermann is Head of Operations Beverage at Envases Öhringen GmbH and manages Plant 2, where the world market leader’s five-liter party kegs are manufactured. The 54-year-old father of two grown-up daughters is a trained master precision mechanic and not only has a great deal of know-how in metal processing. Through numerous further training courses, including QMB, NLP master, mediator, SiFa, BSB, he has also acquired comprehensive skills in team building and personnel management. In addition, his 27 years of experience as a trainer in youth and adult sports serve him well. In the last 30 years he has worked as a production and technical manager in various companies in the packaging industry.