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Continental’s purchase of Merlett diversifies its product range

Merlett

In 2019 Continental, experts in industrial hosing for the food and beverage industry, purchased Italian hose manufacturer Merlett to strengthen its industry offerings.

In 2019 the merger between Continental and Merlett, an Italian based industrial hose manufacturer, was announced.

The acquisition has gone a long way to strengthen Continental’s materials expertise beyond rubber and deepen its specialist knowledge about the design, processing, and handling of thermoplastics for industrial hose solutions.

This is especially important in offering an even more diversified product portfolio to our customers.

“Thermoplastic know-how is essential in our transformation from a pure product supplier to a holistic supplier of systems and solutions in the field of industrial hoses,” said Andreas Gerstenberger, head of Continental’s Industrial Fluid Solution business area, after the announcement.

“The acquisition of Merlett is a major step forward for Continental because more diversification in products, markets and industries opens up new market opportunities.”

In its combined product portfolio of rubber and thermoplastic hoses, Continental is now able to offer a unique range of flexible hoses for agriculture, the construction, transportation and food industries and other growth sectors in the future.

Merlett
Merlett specialises in thermoplastic and PVC.

ContiTech Industrial Fluid’s area sales manager, Eastern Region, Clayton Brown said the diversity provided from the merger, particularly around thermoplastics, was important for the future growth of the company in the food and beverage space.

“We are supporting our growth industries and one of them is food and beverage and Merlett has the full product range for both liquid and dry material transfer to be able to support our offerings,” he said.

“Merlett is market leader in this space, so we acquired them and the expertise around the thermoplastic side of the industry. With this acquisition we’ve got a new product portfolio to suit lots of industries and a key one of those is food and beverage.

“Right now, it’s about educating the market about who Merlett is, the products they offer and what we can offer locally to support the food and beverage industry.”

In a nutshell, thermoplastic technology is a mix of either PVC hose products or polyurethane hose products. As experts in mostly rubber hoses, Continental wanted to step into the other space.

“It’s not purely just rubber used in the food and beverage industry but a combination of both depending on the customer’s needs, wants, outcomes they want to achieve,” said Brown.

“We needed to have both of those ranges available within our portfolio of product to give  more holistic support to our customer base and the Merlett range offers that.

“We have gone from a pure product supplier to a more holistic supplier of systems and solutions which focuses on delivering value to the end user.”

Brown said experience had taught the company that some producers and manufacturers were always going to favour thermoplastics over rubber hoses, whether based on cost or the application.

“We were very eager to start covering that space within our own product portfolio,” he added.

“When comparing from a cost perspective, thermoplastic hose is a more economical alternative to rubber hose. This provides a ‘best-cost’ solution for the food and beverage industry when thermoplastic hose is the preferred solution.”

Continental has also tapped in Merlett’s existing, and expansive, network across the European market.

“They have a big distribution network around Europe and their product portfolio hasn’t changed, we’ve just combined the branding to have Continental and Merlett,” said Brown.

“We are also adding new products into the mix where there is significant demand.”

Both companies also have a proven track record of heavy investment into research and development, leading to key innovations, a critical factor in the successful acquisition of Merlett.

“Merlett have been massive on raw material developments and getting certifications particularly for food and hygiene standards and that continuously allows us to add value to the product,” said Brown.

Brown said while rubber was a more robust material some applications within the food and beverage industry are just as well suited to other types of industrial hoses.

“From industry, time in application of thermoplastic hose is generally shorter than its rubber counterpart,,” said Brown.

“However, in certain application like dry food application transfer where a customer needs a polyurethane ducting that needs to be anti-static, light weight, flexible, rubber just can’t do that.

“On the dry material space absolutely, the thermoplastic hoses outperform rubber all the time. And in terms of liquid transfer, that varies depending on each customer’s needs.”

For example, some wineries lean towards rubber for its longevity and robustness while others may choose a thermoplastic option which generally comes as transparent hosing. These decisions are based on cost, practicality and use-case.

Merlett
The addition of Merlett hoses gives Continental more offerings for food and beverage manufacturing.

“I think one key element with thermoplastic hoses is you can make it clear and the benefit to the end user is seeing the flow of product through the hose and gives confirmation of no blockages and if there are any potential contaminants, so it is case by case in terms of liquid transfer,” said Brown.

Some of the range of industrial hoses provided to the market by Continental includes Ragno Antigelo CR FDA soft PVC hose. This piece is designed to deliver cooling liquids, chemical solutions, food, and compressed air.

Meanwhile, the Vacupress Cristal is a two-layer soft PVC hose with an embedded galvanised steel spiral with polyester yarn reinforcement. These are best for suction and ducting food liquids and is popular within the wine industry.

A third product now in range for Continental is the Armorvin HNA soft PVC hose. This product is best suited to suction and delivery of food liquids, it also has a galvanised steel spiral embedded within it and is used across a diverse range of beverage applications.

“There’s lots of that type of hose on the market and Merlett has continually evolved its development of new materials and production technologies to ensure high quality products are guaranteed,” said Brown.

“Whereas some customers who import their products do so from Asia and it’s hard to follow the value chain right back to the raw material to know the quality of that raw material.

“However, that is what Merlett is able to do, they certify all their materials for high quality and that meets all food standards.”

Brown said being able to track the quality of the materials used in industrial hosing was of particular importance in the food and beverage industry.

“It gives the end market peace of mind to know they don’t have to question the quality of a product and whether it’s going to play into tainting their product or brand,” he said.

“All elements from the rubber side are as pertinent on the thermoplastic side and Continental’s priority is to give total customer satisfaction across the entire range.”

After the initial announcement of the company acquisition, Gerstenberger also praised the positive impact the merger will, and has had, on Continental.

“Merlett fits perfectly to further expand Continental’s resources in order to become the partner of choice for our customers from a very wide range of industries,” he said.

“We are delighted to welcome Merlett’s employees to the Continental family.”

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