Burke Porter Group (BPG) recently purchased Van Hoecke Automation (VHA). A Belgian family company founded in 1990 by Karel Van Hoecke and Linda Van den Berghe, VHA specializes in production automation, product processing, and product inspection & tracking, serving the food, automotive, and manufacturing sectors.
With expertise in engineering design, vision guided robots, and custom machinery, VHA helps customers evolve to smart factories and Industry 4.0. The company’s capabilities in robotics integration, PLC software, prototyping, machine building, process controls, and quality controls, make possible automated inspection systems able to track, measure and trace each product through all stages of production.
According to Linda Van den Berghe, the technology propelling VHA to leadership in product automation, product processing and product inspection & tracking results from the company’s investment in research on materials and 3D printing, testing & assembly, robots and cobots, machine vision, and software.
“VHA was one of the first companies in Belgium to offer Siemens’ MindSphere, a cloud-based open IOT operating system for smart factories that connects products, plants, systems and machines, so that you can use all the data with advanced analytics,” Van Hoecke said.
“In addition, the VHA-PLC libraries offer a great deal of standardization and simulation possibilities and the VHA-PC platform offers powerful object-oriented solutions, based on the latest programming techniques,” she said. “We also developed methods for computer assisted concept generation, to facilitate the generation and evaluation of several possible concepts when creating a new solution for a particular problem.”
With its research track record, along with detailed product and process knowledge of individual customers, VHA can develop lean, innovative, and yet inexpensive solutions for production automation in all sorts of industries, not just the food sector.
“VHA has developed a range of robots for the production of puff pastry, pancakes and other cookies and even designed a special machine for the famous Belgian chocolate ‘pralines,’” said Van Hoecke. “With the help of 3-D printing, VHA, along with additive manufacturing company Materialise, designed a flexible gripper that can successively pick up various food items of different sizes, shapes and compositions – and all this expertise can be transferred to many other manufacturing solutions.”
According to Van Hoecke, what makes VHA unique are its prototyping capabilities and a dream team of engineers with diverse specialties. Along with support from the European Social Fund (ESF), employees spend more than 10 percent of their working hours training to expand their competencies in smart factories and mechatronics.
Another distinctive is the fact that such a small company has worked for more than 20 years in the highly demanding global automotive industry.
“We are committed to delivering first class quality projects, always working together with our customers in long-term relationships,” said Van Hoecke.
“We take time to understand what the client wants to accomplish with each project, and identify innovative solutions that can be produced cheaper and leaner than the competition,” she said. “This is possible because we invest in our suppliers, so that they keep us informed of the latest products and solutions for a range of problems.”
As a member of the BPG family of companies, VHA expects to capitalize on the Group’s more than 40 locations world-wide, bringing its automotive products to new markets and providing more effective customer service. Meanwhile, the acquisition strengthens BPG’s presence in Belgium, along with BEP Europe NV in Bruges, and continues to diversify the group’s solutions on a global scale.
For more information about VHA, please visit https://www.vha.be/EN/index.php.