Video: Essex-based Pacepacker Services featured by TV presenter Michael Portillo at PPMA Show

PPMA Apprentice of 2014 Andrew Lufkin (second from left) of Pacepacker receiving his award from Rory

PPMA Apprentice of 2014 Andrew Lufkin (second from left) of Pacepacker receiving his award from Rory Bremner, Gary Wyle, managing director Festo, and television presenter Helen Fospero. - Credit: Archant

Essex packing systems manufacturer Packpacker Services has celebrated a successful visit to the annual PPMA Show, the UK’s largest exhibition for processing and packaging machinery.

Pacepacker, which is based at Great Bardfield, near Braintree, saw two of its team members pick up awards and its managing director feature in a live interview with television presenter and former MP Michael Portillo, which was screened around the exhibition hall at the NEC in Birmingham.

The award winners were Andrew Lufkin, 23, who received the PPMA Apprentice of the Year accolade, and Andreas Fantousi, the company’s sales and marketing co-ordinator, who received the bronze trophy in the Ones to Watch category.

Andrew, an apprentice engineer whose job involves facilitating parts orders, managing stock in-take for machine builds and building sub-assemblies for two of Pacepacker’s packing systems, was praised by the judges for “his willingness to share his skills and knowledge and involve others in his training.”

He has completing a one-year City & Guilds level 2 certificate in engineering (manufacturing technology) and is currently studying the two-year level 3 course with Colchester Institute.

Andrew said: “To receive this industry-wide recognition is a great honour and I feel really proud of all that I’ve accomplished in a relatively short space of time. Apprenticeships are an eye opener to the working world: it’s taught me discipline, punctuality, how to prioritise and accountability.

“The course tutoring and hands on learning have taught me the basics of engineering, which now have become second nature and will stay with me for the rest of my career. The extended draughting skills will also stand me in good stead for a future in engineering.

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“With several of the team approaching retirement age, I’m in a good place to help fill the skills gap and I eventually hope to share my experiences to mentor other young apprentices.”

Andreas, 26, joined Pacepacker in 2010 through the University of Essex’s Graduate Internship Scheme and is credited with overhauling the company’s quotations process and introducing data controls to benchmark performance.

Andreas, who receives complimentary Festo training courses valued at £1,000, said: “It feels great to be recognised by my peers and to be part of the new generation of young people in our rapidly changing automation sector that are making a valuable contribution to the future.”

Managing director Dennis Allison was interviewed by Michael Portillo during a tour by the former cabinet minister of the Pacepacker stand, which had seven automation systems on display including packing and palletisinig robots and the company’s signature bulk bagging and sack placing equipment.

The former MP attended the show to observe the uptake of automation within the UK’s food and drink industry. “One of the keys to moving the sector forward is automation and it’s patchy in British manufacturing, apart from the automotive industries,” he told delegates at the opening ceremony.