When a Latin American confectionery company first opened its factory doors, little did it know that the organization would become a key player in the food and beverage industry. The initial product offering of cookies and crackers has evolved over the years to a diverse assortment of products, including cold cuts, biscuits, chocolates, coffee, ice cream and pasta.
A modern packaging solution for Latin American classics
Among the company’s most popular products are its chocolate and cereal bar brands. To keep up with rising production demands, the manufacturer was looking for a way of upgrading the previously manual secondary packaging process to a faster, automated and more reliable solution. The cartoner had to be flexible enough to package bars of different shapes and sizes into cartons in packs of six, 12 and 24 — without causing lengthy downtime due to format changeovers and complicated operating processes. In addition, a high output would need to be realized within the compact layout of the existing production facilities.
During its search for a suitable technology, the company chose top-loading cartoning equipment from Bosch Packaging Technology because of its operator-friendly design with fail-proof, fast and fully reproducible changeovers and flexible in-feed possibilities.
An initial challenge was posed by the differing interfaces of the existing flow-wrapping equipment and the new platform. A bespoke interface was developed that used a feeding wheel to cope with the high speeds that connected both elements of the line to ensure a smooth and harmonious production flow. The new equipment’s streamlined design meant transportation and implementation was swift. With the launch of the new line, the changeover times for the cereal bar production could be reduced from 1 hour to 10 minutes — significantly increasing uptime.
Fast, flexible and under control
At the company’s headquarters, the new customized interface ensures the flow-wrapped cereal bars are delivered homogenously and at even distances to the discharging conveyor of the toploader. Arriving lengthways, the flow wrapped bars are then gently picked up by a feeding wheel, which turns the products 90 degrees before placing them sideways into a grouping unit, ready for cartoning. Carton erection can be an Achilles’ heel in automated packaging solutions as it has the potential to slow down productivity. Difficult-to-handle carton materials and formats can decrease production output, result in faulty containers and jam the production line. The new equipment is designed to eliminate these issues and achieve a reliable output with its quick-change format parts, fully reproducible format settings, precise carton positioning and extended time between re-loading of blank tri-seal cartons. Once the containers are erected, the appropriate format gripper for the product and packaging type picks up the cereal bars from the grouping unit and places them flat into cartons. The filled cartons are then transported to the gluing station where they are closed and discharged.
With its capacity to package bars of various sizes in four carton sizes using seven different configurations, the new installation is producing positive results for the factory. The new toploader has allowed operators to reach a level of flexibility and production output that they were not previously able to achieve with their former manual efforts. The automated process, lightweight format parts and tool-free changeover, mean that operators have been able to speed up changes between products from 60 minutes to 10 minutes. A single operator is now able to run, changeover and clean the machine, alleviating the pressures on his/her workforce. With reduced waste and increased Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), the new installation has been a success
For the manufacturer, the new installation has not only boosted production output, it has also significantly improved the reliability and stability of the packaging process. Its innovative tray transport features individual carriers for each carton that can be adjusted to fit specific requirements, meaning that each carton is under full control throughout the process. Therefore, the production flow is uninterrupted, reducing downtime and creating a hassle-free production environment.
Additionally, packaging and product waste are minimized, and high levels of quality can be ensured throughout the production. With the multitude of options that the new secondary packaging equipment has opened up, the chocolate and cereal bars manufacturerisprepared for any future changes in market demand.
Michael Haas is the product manager at Bosch Packaging Technology. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Based in Waiblingen near Stuttgart, Germany, and employing 6,100 associates, the Bosch Packaging Technology division is one of the leading suppliers of process and packaging technology. At more than 30 locations in more than 15 countries worldwide, a highly qualified workforce develops and produces complete solutions for the pharmaceuticals, food and confectionery industries.