Around the globe, sweet bakery products are considered a special treat — and the Middle East is no exception. For bakery manufacturers, however, the popularity of these sweet bites poses its own challenges: muffins, pastries and croissants are very diverse and delicate products that must be handled with care — from distribution to primary packaging. Therefore, one of the world’s largest baking manufacturers, Almarai, relies on integrated packaging systems from Syntegon.
Founded in 1977, Almarai is ranked as the number one fast moving consumer goods brand and the largest bakery manufacturer in the Middle East and North Africa region. In addition to its high-quality dairy products, Almarai has diversified its product portfolio to include juices, baked goods and poultry under the brand names Almarai, L’usine, 7DAYS and Alyoum. The company also operates successful joint ventures with Chipita and PepsiCo.
Maximum flexibility for a broad product range
For a new production site in Ha’il, Saudi-Arabia, and its primary site in Alkharj, Saudi-Arabia, Almarai needed several flow wrapping machines for the primary packaging of baked goods.
“Our choice fell on Syntegon and we purchased the packaging lines in 2015,” says Mark Farmar, divisional manufacturing manager, bakery at Almarai. On these lines, Almarai packs a wide variety of bakery products such as bread, hamburger buns, sandwich rolls, puff pastries, croissants, sandwiches, cupcakes, muffins, swiss rolls, rolls and cake bars.
Almarai was looking for flexible machines that could be easily adapted to different product shapes and textures.
“On the one hand, we wanted machines that work efficiently, have short downtimes and feature easy format changeovers. On the other hand, we process and package unique and delicate products. Syntegon was the right partner for us”, says Farmar.
With its Pack-Series flow wrapping machines, Syntegon offered solutions that could be easily adapted to the wide product range in terms of handling, distribution, feeding and packaging — enhancing the production performance even more.
A complex process from production to packaging
For efficient manufacturing, the production and packaging processes must be precisely coordinated and interoperate smoothly. Almarai therefore needed a quality interface to take over the upstream equipment that transfers the baked goods to the packaging machines after the manufacturing process. This integrative process is particularly difficult with products such as cupcakes.
After baking, cupcakes leave the oven every 20 to 30 seconds and are transported through a cooling tunnel before being wrapped by Syntegon machines. They are handled and distributed to the flow wrapping machines either via a direct depositing pullnose (DDP) or soft depositing pullnose (SDP), depending on the texture of the products. The DDP is used for more robust products like buns and rolls, because it is designed for optimal production speed and handles the products faster. Products such as cupcakes are distributed using the SDP, since they can tumble over and are more difficult to handle because of their variable shape.
After baking, cupcakes leave the oven every 20 to 30 seconds and are transported through a cooling tunnel before being wrapped by Syntegon machines. They are handled and distributed to the flow wrapping machines either via a direct depositing pullnose (DDP) or soft depositing pullnose (SDP), depending on the texture of the products. The DDP is used for more robust products like buns and rolls because it is designed for optimal production speed and handles the products faster. Products such as cupcakes are distributed using the SDP, since they can tumble over and are more difficult to handle because of their variable shape.
The cupcakes are then placed on a conveyor belt that feeds them to a pack feeder, which aligns and positions them for further transport to the flow wrapping machine. The Syntegon Pack series horizontal flow wrapper packs the cupcakes individually or in twin packs. From here, a conveyor belt transports the products toward the downstream secondary packaging equipment.
“We fully integrated the primary packaging system into Almarai’s production process,” says Donald Sanders, technical sales manager at Syntegon. “This ensures smooth transitions from baking to primary packaging, without any losses in time or efficiency.”
All flow wrappers sold to Almarai offered the flexibility needed for the company’s broad range of products. The machines combined with different distribution and feeding systems to take the individual needs of each product into account. One key performance factor for the flow wrappers was their sealing effectiveness.
“The search for suitable solutions was anything but easy,” says Farmar. “But Syntegon was able to offer elaborate testing that ultimately delivered the best possible outcome for us.”
Trustful collaboration and test procedures
A trustful collaboration between customer and machine manufacturer was key to reaching maximum efficiency on the lines. Intensive procedures such as leakage tests of the flow wraps for various baked goods yielded the best possible output. Syntegon also made an offer tailored to Almarai’s needs, providing reliable service and solutions like virtual remote support, which proved especially helpful in times of a global pandemic.
The new Syntegon machines provide a comprehensive overview of the entire production environment, enabling Almarai to respond to changes very quickly. “The aftersales support has been excellent and convinced us that our decision to work with Syntegon was spot on. Syntegon delivers on its promises,” concluded Farmar.
Bart Kunst is a sales director at Syntegon.