A Business Fable

August 4, 2016

A business fable

There was once a goat who insisted on taking the long dirt path to the stream for a drink. The path wound ‘round the field and zig-zagged through the forest before it reached the stream. As the goat was walking through the forest, his friend, the cat, happened to be resting on a tree branch. She spotted him and asked, “Why do you always take this way to the stream when there is a new path that has just been paved?” “I’ve always taken this way,” the goat answered simply. “But the new way is faster,” the cat pointed out.  “It is smooth and straight. It goes past the field and forest and leads you upstream, where the water is more refreshing.” “I like this way,” the goat responded. “I have taken this same path for years and know its every bend. There is nothing wrong with it.” “Suit yourself,” said the cat. The goat continued down the path he had always known, oblivious to what he was missing.

How many times has your company insisted on traveling down the same old path simply because that is the way it has always been done?  I know at times we can struggle with that here at MGS, but our focus is to constantly look for better paths and be open to suggestions from stakeholders both inside and outside the organization.

As one of our valued OEM partners, I would challenge your companies to consider their current paths.  Are there some decisions or processes that could be improved by simply being open to new paths?

Like the cat in the fable above, MGS would love the opportunity to offer some suggestions on potential new paths if your organization is struggling in the area of product handling.  Nobody likes to have to re-design the wheel and MGS has many proven feeding solutions that can easily be integrated into existing lines.  If you would like some suggestions….give us a call.



If you’re reading this then you are no doubt familiar with the concept of serialization.  To put it simply, the process includes printing, inspecting and rejecting.  A unique identifier, often a number, is printed on the carton. The printed information is then inspected and if not compliant, rejected.

 As serialization requirements increase, many companies are left scrambling for a solution.  Especially companies with existing packaging equipment, such as a cartoner.  There are a few options.  One would be to purchase a new cartoner with serialization capabilities.  The other is adding the MGS Machine CIM (Carton Inspection Module) to an existing cartoner.  The CIM is a small, one meter unit that prints, inspects and rejects all in one.  The CIM can be installed downstream from any OEM cartoner easily.  This self-contained, discretely validatable unit can accommodate up to 350 cartons per minute.

 More information, spec sheet and video are available at this link: Click here


At Pack Expo in Las Vegas, MGS unveiled the Vortex™, a new high-speed tray denester capable of speeds up to 300 per minute.  Featuring a single-sided cantilevered design along with four-axis stepper motor system and full washdown compatibility, this new cost-effective screw denester offers easy installation, five-minute changeovers, and superior sanitation.

The introduction of the new Vortex™ provides MGS with a unique position, being the only manufacturer offering three distinct solution methodologies within the tray denesting marketplace.  The advantage of this uniqueness to the end user is that the solution alternative can now be matched to the application based upon the environment, tray design, rate, and other project specifications.  By focusing first on the tray denesting application, MGS can now determine which of our three methodologies is suited to deliver the best results.  As an example, our IPP style vacuum pick and place denester is probably best suited for thin-walled, plastic bakery trays that lack a rigid, consistent flange.  However, the tray denesting solution for redi-serve plastic trays with consistent flange spacing is most likely our new Vortex™, which will provide very reliable dispensing at an economical price point.

MGS is excited about this new addition to our denesting product line and the new opportunities it will introduce.

When the MGS team determined to develop a new cartoner for the pharmaceutical market and after discussions with key customers and channel partners we arrived at the following conclusions:

  • It needs to be high quality, like most European equipment
  • The new machine must have a reasonable price, unlike currently available many high quality machines
  • We want a reasonable length delivery and we want it when promised
  • Service and support is really important

As the theory goes, there is a “push-pull” situation when simultaneously attempting to increase quality and service while holding the price down. With the possible exception of identifying the key applications for which the machine is to be designed and limiting scope to remain within these parameters.

MGS has in its corporate DNA a high level of care for customers. Delivery on time is challenging with design-to-order equipment. MGS has always worked hard and communicated effectively with customers about due dates and are very successful at meeting customers’ schedule requirements. But a shorter delivery would require a change in operational strategy.

After market support and service has long been a hallmark of MGS. Quick response to calls and questions along with 24/7 availability is no longer an option; it’s part of who MGS is. So this need was mostly resolved before new product design even started.

So the MGS product development team set out to design the new cartoner, once having good comprehension of the market requirements for speed, size ranges and applications. It needed to be high quality, offered at a fair price with good, reliable delivery and service support – with the last two already accounted for as within current corporate culture.

In the design phase, we maintained our tightened scope of work. The employment of lean design techniques set the pathway for several “cut and combine” meetings, reducing part count and simplifying the engineering work. Prototypes of critical assemblies were built to shake out the bugs and arrest and concerns of robustness or effectiveness.

Throughout this, we were successful in sparing little expense in materials or methods. The final product is a world-class machine, offered at a reasonable price, with the good and reliable delivery coming from the company many know and trust will care for their concerns throughout the product lifecycle. Introducing the CT200™ Pharma-cartoner by MGS Machine. Check it out at http://mgsmachine.com/prodinfo.php?id=35&product=CT200™—Horizontal-Continuous-Motion

MGS has been deeply involved in serving those in our community that have less. We do a semi-annual blood drive, collect toys that are distributed by a local church and we’ve also collect funds while in the shadow of national disaster such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. One of our more active, local campaigns centers on collecting food for our local food shelf. We’ve followed a novel approach in doing this.

MGS joined The Food Drive Challenge (www.fooddrivechallenge.org) a few years ago. This isn’t an organization but is more like a “movement” of several small to medium-sized businesses around the country that would like to engage their staffs in working to support those in need in their local communities. It works like this:

– The company determines who will run their campaign and he / she registers the company on the website “The Biggest Giver” challenge at the link above.

– PDF tools and tips are available on the website

– A strategy is determined…do we have team competitions, a company-wide prize like a Friday off during the summer or some other plan to spur on participation?

– The food drive is conducted – the suggestion is to do it during the month of March as this is one of the low points for food shelves

– Results are reports in and the site administrator will provide an update to all companies participating as to how they did against the other firms and what we raised as a group

The basic idea is that this is good for the company, good for the staff and good for those in the community that receive the direct benefit

– The company benefits because people that give are generally better employees. All companies want the best employees. We all would rather work with “Givers” .

– Employees that participate have the opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves and contribute to serving others. We’re all busy now days and we might have good intentions of getting involved in some kind of service work, but who can find the time? With the employer providing the opportunity do serve, the employee can easily become a part of this.

– Obviously those in need are served by what is raised – food, household items, etc.

By the way, in recent years many food shelves would almost prefer to receive monetary donations as they have the ability to purchase items at a lower cost than individuals. Our company provides a $1 to $1 match with our staff donations as an incentive. We’ve found more people willing to give cash than scrounge through their cupboards or go shopping.

So, would you consider urging your company into considering becoming part of the Biggest Giver Challenge at www.fooddrivechallenge.org? We hope so. And so does your staff and your community.

MGS Machine Corporation

9900 85th Ave N.

Maple Grove, MN 55369



ST. PAUL – Nine Minnesota companies that have built successful global markets have been named winners of the 2013 Governor’s International Trade Awards during an award ceremony at the State Capitol. The companies were selected for developing and continuing to grow a significant part of their business in foreign markets, for increasing or maintaining jobs in Minnesota to support international sales, and for developing novel approaches for competing globally.

“International trade supports of thousands of Minnesota jobs and communities across our state. I want to congratulate all of these fine Minnesota companies on their international growth and continued commitment to our state,” said Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon. “The entrepreneurial spirit of these businesses will help Minnesota’s economy build on the more than 133,000 jobs created since 2011.”

Among the winners this year was MGS Machine Corp. of Maple Grove, MN. MGS designs and builds automated packaging equipment and has produced over 14,000 units and shipped to 27 countries since 1979.

“We are pleased to recognize the outstanding achievements of these Minnesota exporters and the positive economic impact that exporting companies, both large and small, are making in communities throughout the state,” said Kathleen Motzenbecker, executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office. “We applaud them for their global vision, hard work and creativity in tackling new international markets.” More on the Minnesota Trade Office The Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) is focused on increasing state export sales in foreign markets and attracting foreign direct investment to Minnesota. The MTO promotes international trade by providing export information, export education and training, and one-on-one counseling to Minnesota companies that wish to sell manufactured goods and services in the international marketplace.

There are a many ways you can drag down your Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) rating, but make sure you avoid these common culprits…

1. Under training. Machine operators should know how to properly load commodities and quickly clear jams to get the line back up and running. Train them accordingly, and place simple how-to instructions–with more pictures and less text–near the machines for fast cleaning, troubleshooting and changeovers.

2. Shoddy commodities. Stay on your vendors to ensure they provide quality commodities. Inconsistent and out-of-spec materials are hard on equipment and are big-time OEE drags. By optimizing your commodities, you’ll make it easier for the equipment to run smoothly. The extra cost–usually just pennies–is worth it.

3. Lack of buffer zones. Strategically place buffers to compensate for downstream failures while the upstream equipment, which can be more difficult and time-consuming to restart, continues to operate. It’ll help reduce labor costs and overtime and could increase your line capacity.

4. Out-of-synch speeds. Making sure that downstream equipment outpaces upstream machines seems like a no-brainer, yet we still see lines in which equipment speeds are not properly synchronized. Each successive machine must outpace its predecessor, or it’ll pull down your OEE rating.

5. Surge charges. Improper spacing of equipment can trigger harmful surges, shutting down upstream equipment unnecessarily. Be sure you’ve got enough surge coverage and that the location of sensors allows for an efficient run.

6. Excessive “reject” stops. Your OEE rating gets nicked with every stoppage, so tread carefully here. Plan for a “reasonable number” of items to come off the line without a shutdown. Rethink what’s truly a critical error–and worthy of a stoppage– and what isn’t.

7. Refill shutdowns. Don’t let new web rolls, labels, and tape put a halt to your run. Work with your OEM to allow refill changes to be made online, and keep things flowing.

Our firm:

MGS Machine serves the pharmaceutical market with its automated packaging machinery solutions. We have over 14,000 successful installations in 27 countries around the world. Our main campus is located in Maple Grove, MN USA. We work with pharmaceutical manufacturers and their contract packaging suppliers to implement automated secondary packaging lines.

MGS Machine Corporation

9900 85th Ave N.

Maple Grove, MN USA 55369