Packaging line with two identical bar packers
- Fully automated seamless packaging process
- Compact line design
- Savings of 112 tonnes of plastic per year
New packaging machine for change to more environmentally friendly packaging
Whether to satisfy a sudden craving, as a quick snack or to serve at Sunday afternoon tea – Bahlsen, the Hanover-based biscuit manufacturer, has been providing high-quality baked delights with its wide selection of wafers, biscuits and cakes for more than 130 years. The company has been working with packaging machine manufacturer Schubert for several years to make sure that the sweet treats reach consumers in flawless condition. Last spring, Bahlsen updated the packaging of its PiCK UP! biscuit bar and expanded its existing machinery with two bar packers from the Crailsheim-based company.
The topic of sustainability also played a special role in the production expansion. Because Marketing delicious treats and being kind to the environment are not mutually exclusive for Bahlsen. The biscuit manufacturer has also prioritised sustainability in addition to its proven commitment to quality and continuous innovation. For example, the company works with carefully selected partners worldwide who act responsibly in the cultivation of raw materials such as cocoa or sugar. Product packaging also plays a decisive role in sustainable practices. For PiCK UP!, the popular chocolate biscuit, Bahlsen wanted a new packaging machine that would enable the switch to more environmentally friendly packaging.
Less plastic, more cardboard for the chocolaty biscuit treat
Until now, PiCK UP! bars were packaged into flowpacks, grouped together and covered with labels. To produce more sustainably in the future, this secondary packaging had to be replaced with folding cartons made of cardboard. Bahlsen wanted a new automation solution that would protect the delicate biscuit bars from damage and breakage during the packaging process. The confectionery company decided to use thinner films for its flowpacks in view of achieving material savings by reducing the amount of film used. The machine upgrade would have to be able to handle this as well. Finally, aside from the requirements for the packaging machine itself, Bahlsen had special conditions in terms of the machine’s location: Space in the production area was very limited due to several columns and low ceilings, so that a compact, narrow line design was required.
Two fully automated, flexible bar packers for the entire packaging process
To overcome the project’s many challenges, Schubert was involved early on in the packaging development of the folding cartons. This enabled the packaging specialist to optimise the new packaging especially with regard to machine runnability. For example, the box blanks were designed with crease and score lines in order to facilitate easy and quick erection of the carton, with the layout of the blanks also being greatly improved. To complement the existing production lines, Schubert finally designed a packaging line for its customer with two identical bar packers positioned one behind the other, taking up little space in the hall and which could pack in parallel and thus independently of each other.
As a result, the entire packaging process with the essential steps of erecting, filling and sealing now runs fully automatically in the line. Schubert guarantees an entirely seamless packaging process thanks to advanced robot technology and the use of its Transmodul. Gentle product handling and a controlled process from start to finish increase the line’s efficiency and minimises waste. At the same time, the manufacturer can now save an impressive 112 tonnes of plastic per year thanks to the new folding carton design and the flowpacks’ thinner films. Both make a significant contribution to sustainability for Bahlsen and meet the consumers’ desire for more environmentally friendly packaging.
The new packaging line that Schubert developed for Bahlsen's "PiCK UP" biscuit bar.
The design of the line was tricky, with many columns and low ceilings restricting the space, and yet the result is a line that meets Bahlsen’s highest requirements.”
Project manager, Gerhard Schubert GmbH, April 2023
- 2 bar packers with a capacity of up to 850 products per minute
- 8 different formats
- Savings of 112 tonnes of plastic per year
- Transmodul in operation
Efficient machine processes with robots working hand in hand
With the new packaging solution, the biscuit bars, which are already packed into flowpacks, are now placed into their secondary packaging in the bar packing machines, each of which consists of three machine frames. First, the flat blanks are fed into the system via a magazine. Depending on the format, a robot takes up to six blanks from the magazine and transfers them to another robot that erects the cardboard cartons. The folded boxes are then placed onto the Transmodul transport robot and moved to the filling station. In parallel, the PiCK UP! bars are fed into the process via a feeder and pre-grouped. A robot then picks up several bars at a time with a suction gripper and transfers a predefined number of pieces, depending on the format, into the open cartons. The Transmodul then moves them to the last step, sealing, where the sales packs are sealed with a closing unit in a process specially designed for low height cartons.
The new process is both sustainable and cost-effective
The switch to cardboard, thinner films and a new line improves sustainability while being very cost-effective for Bahlsen. The high-performance solution can process up to 850 biscuit bars per minute. Thanks to the robots’ high working precision, which place the biscuit bars very precisely into the packages, the new packaging cartons could be designed to be as small and low as possible – and therefore without a lot of empty space. The biscuit manufacturer can also use a variety of formats for its specialities: Outer packaging with eight different product configurations is now possible. A major format change is only required when a different pack base is required and can be carried out in just 20 minutes.
Bahlsen is very pleased with the new line. Thanks to the variety of carton formats and heights and the ability of the robot-assisted machines to process an overcapacity of up to ten per cent from the pre-process, the solution is not only compelling in terms of sustainability, but also in terms of flexibility and efficiency. The fact that a machine with such high performance was successfully designed by Schubert to meet the unique challenges of the production site is equally appreciated. “The design of the line was tricky, with many columns and low ceilings restricting the space, and yet the result is a line that meets Bahlsen’s highest requirements,” reports Ulrike Arnold, project manager at Schubert.
Bahlsen saves 112 tonnes of plastic per year with the new packaging for its biscuit bars.