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October, 2007

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Ensa Machine Bouw

By Evan D. Dashevsky

The Dutch cigar machine maker finds success through service and innovation.

Ensa Machine Bouw is a relatively new member of the international cigar world. The company was founded in 1997 by Harrie van de Ven. He had worked in the cigar making industry for about 30 years as a mechanical engineer, and stood at the base of many improvements and inventions during this tenure. Ten years ago he made the decision to start his own company and it has been an unparalleled success.

Ensa has specialised in the overhauling, developing, and optimisation of cigar making machinery. Apart from that, Ensa also delivers spare-parts for MID (cigar overrolling machine), MIL (extended rolling device for longer cigars), MIR (combined machine, which can produce a whole cigar), and Mark 8-variomat-S parts. The company prides itself on encompassing segments of various disciplines: engineering, production/fabrication, assembly, and installation. By doing so “we always have the capacity to react quickly to any question or problem that is raised by customers or might occur during a project,” says Deputy Director (and son of Harrie) Martijn van de Ven.

Currently Ensa Machine Bouw boasts a line-up of customers all around the globe. Since 2002 Ensa has been the main-supplier of cigar-rolling machines in Europe, which Martijin attributes to their “knowledge, quality, and flexibility.”

The main goals of improvement of MID/MIR machines lie in four different areas: increasing the speed, increasing durability, increasing efficiency, and lowering cost of maintenance. At the moment Ensa is able to increase the speed of MID/MIL machines using bobbins (pre-cut leafs on carrier material) up to 80 double length cigars, (there is one bunch, which is cut into two which means they are not producing 80 pieces per minute, but 160 pieces). Ensa achieves this by using the same body and cigarmaking principle used in “old” MID/MIL machines. This makes changing over from low-speed MID to high-speed MIDE (Ensa’s version of the MID) much easier because all technicians and operators know how the machine ought to be working and this makes it easier for them to make adjustments to the machines and to solve any production and quality problems. Another advantage is that spare-parts from “old” machines—which are already on stock—can still be used in the new machines. The floor plan of the factories stay the same, they can take an old machine out and replace it with a new one.

Ensa has also increased the speed of MIR machines up to 45 cigars/minute. Apart from processing natural binder and wrapper on the MIR, the machines are now able to process sheet binder and/or sheet wrapper. One of the great advantages of the MIR being able to work as an all-sheet cigar or natural overrolled sheet bunch is that customers who elect to use the sheet binder/natural wrapper option are able to easily start up new lines of cigars. “And in doing so, the customer never has to disrupt their normal productivity and don’t have problems in starting up small series on bunchmakers,” comments Martijin. “Once the new product takes off, the customer still has the possibility to change to the high volume bunchmakers and the fast MID/MIL machines, so they can meet production requirements.”

He goes on to proudly talk about the construction of Ensa’s machines: “At Ensa, we are always looking for better materials which we can use to build our machines. For example, Ensa has a full stainless steel rolling device with all stainless steel shafts and stainless steel ball bearings. This has many advantages: the lifetime of the stainless steel bearings is much longer than the bronze bushes and no lubrication is needed and there is less play. Apart from that, putting bearings in the rolling device is easier than putting in bushes and makes it easier to mount shafts in the rolling device. The stainless steel body makes it more durable to erosion caused by flavoured glue and cleaning materials. It is also not necessary to paint rolling device which means less maintenance and no paint will be getting into the cigar.”

Another important element for Ensa is the efficiency of the machines. At the moment there are Ensa-built MID/MIL machines, which run with a reject level of less than 0.5%, (for MIR this is 1%). Another area of efficiency is optimising the leaf required for binder and wrapper. Ensa recalculates all the dimensions and reaches an optimised shape. “By changing and optimising parts and changing to different materials there is less wear on the parts which means that machines run for longer periods of time without overhauling and the break-downs during production are minimized. This means mechanics need less time to solve problems at the machine, which gives them a chance to focus more on preventive maintenance. We also make some adjustments so parts are fitted more easily on the machines. We aim to keep the machine as accessible as possible which makes it easier for cleaning and changing parts. The machines are developed in an operator friendly way so all parties benefit form the adjustments,” adds Martijin.

He goes on to note that “solving our customer’s problems is a main priority. Our first step is always to visit a factory and see which problems occur and what the status of the machines is. Afterwards we discuss what we’ve seen and what the factories want us to do. We give our point of view and suggestions on how problems could be solved and go from there.

“For example, if production is going up, factories don’t want to lose production while one of their machines is being upgraded. A way to solve this is that we use one of their own machines, which they have on stock, modify it to the required standard and speed. We make a test run at our factory and then the customer judges the product. We then send the machine to the factory and they switch the old machine with the new one. One of our mechanics comes over to start-up the machine and give training and instructions on how to work with the new machines. Then the factory sends us one of their old machines in return. In doing so our customer has minimal production losses.”

If knowledge and enthusiasm are the basis for success in this business, Ensa will continue to make waves for many years to come.


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