Many years of experience in aseptic filling technology

Dipl.-Ing. Thomas Niehr, born on 15 October 1965, studied mechanical engineering at the University of Applied Sciences Aachen from 1986 - 1990, followed by vocational training as a technical draftsman, 1982 - 1986.
I started my engineering career in 1991 in a development team for new technologies in the field of aseptic beverage filling. During this time, my focus was on technologies for beverage carton packaging and the definition/introduction of CAD/PDM systems.

In 1999 I took over the responsibility to build up a new team for the development of an aseptic filling machine for plastic bottles. This project offered the unique opportunity to develop a new product line without tight specifications. The development team enjoyed a great deal of freedom to contribute their innovative ideas. In addition to the technology, this included new approaches to manufacturing and assembly processes. For the first time, an interdisciplinary team was used, combining mechanics, electronics, process engineering and microbiology. In addition to the focus on PET and HDPE bottles, I was also involved in numerous projects for cup and thermoforming lines.

In 2003 the product range was continued under a new group assignment. The founding of a subsidiary added a new dimension to the product. In the GmbH I took over the position "Head of Development and Design" and was responsible for all technical areas. In addition to development and design, this included project planning, project management and the coordination of machine production and validation. Sales of the company's own filling machine technology was extended to complete lines. For the first time, preventive maintenance concepts were developed, and innovative future concepts were promoted with bottle-fee-based maintenance contracts. Since then, the development of life-cycle concepts, consistent support over the entire plant life cycle, has been my particular focus.

In 2008, the GmbH was integrated into a group of companies as part of a takeover and continued there as a competence centre. As CC manager, I was responsible for the areas of development, design, technical sales support and project management. In addition, a specialised service team for aseptic technology was now part of my area of responsibility. An existing aseptic division within the group was integrated into this Competence Center. In 2014, this Competence Center was transformed into a Product Center, and for the first time, machine production was also my responsibility as PC manager.

Today I can look back on 30 years of experience in the field of aseptic filling technology. During this time, I have developed and designed numerous production lines for aseptic filling and installed them at customers worldwide. During this time, I became acquainted with the different corporate structures of three major beverage technology groups. The filling machine series I was responsible for developing is now already being marketed in its third machine generation. The prototype of this series has been successfully in production use for over 20 years, including moving to new locations twice.

Since February 2020 I have been working as a independent professional in the field of aseptic filling technology. For this purpose, I offer support services for plant design, project management for new installations and conversions as well as maintenance management and personnel training.

The fascinating thing about aseptic technology is the inseparable combination of different disciplines, from mechanics/electronics and process engineering to microbiology and the production environment.

My vision is to create an innovative and safe „aseptic-filling-world” in which all the disciplines involved merge seamlessly into one another.

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