The popularity of Endangered Species Chocolate’s 0.35-oz. Organic Chocolate Squares, known as Chimp Mints and Bug Bites, reached a point where demand began outpacing production. Hence, the need to ramp up packaging speeds.
Saving the planet, making chocolate. One would think those two missions would be diametrically opposed. OK. Perhaps not diametrically opposed, but certainly divergent. And yet, Indianapolis-based Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC) was founded specifically on combining both those premises together. As such, the company has held true to its promise ever since, donating 10 percent of net profits to species and habitat conservation efforts.
Moreover, its ethical trade criteria ensures that the premium cacao it uses only comes from farm cooperatives that foster community development and provide humane working conditions and fair wages for all cacao farmers. In addition, the company carefully sources only the highest quality organic and all-natural ingredients from farmers that practice sustainable farming. As a result, ESC prides itself on being a successful business that puts fewer chemicals into the earth, protects rainforests and provides solid jobs.
But in addition to its ethical emphasis, the company also takes great pride in producing excellent tasting, premium chocolates. That combination has fueled ESC’s growth. Recently, more and more consumers were craving its 0. 35-oz. Organic Chocolate Squares, known as Chimp Mints and Bug Bites, to the point where demand began outpacing production. Consequently, ESC reached out to its partner Bosch Packaging Technology for an automated solution that more than tripled output.
Partners in packaging
Since its humble beginnings in 1993, ESC has relied on Bosch’s Doboy Stratus, an entry-level and compact horizontal flow wrapper, to package its beloved Chimp Mints and Bug Bites. The partnership has allowed the company to rapidly extend its distribution reach, which now covers the United States and Canada.
Since going national in 2005, the company has more than tripled in size. To meet increasing demand, ESC worked closely with its local Bosch agent Keith Goodhart of RPMI Packaging Inc. and subsequently decided to upgrade to Bosch’s Pack 401 horizontal flow wrapper integrated with a Pack Feeder 4 six-belt feeder, a system capable of automated product transfer and simplified cleaning and maintenance.
In upgrading to Bosch’s Pack 401 horizontal flow wrapper integrated with a Pack Feeder 4 six-belt feeder, the company introduced a system capable of automated product transfer and simplified cleaning and maintenance.
While the previous solution required that the chocolate squares be manually transferred from their moulds to the primary packaging machine, the Pack Feeder 4 directs the chocolates from the moulding line to the horizontal flow wrapper without human intervention. This speeds up production and decreases operator requirements from six to one, which allows the company to redirect labor to higher skilled positions.
The Pack 401 runs at film speeds up to 80 meters per minute and features self-centering film reel holders that enable easy and quick film changeover. The machine automatically tracks and aligns the film to create consistent package quality and seals for the chocolates. Additionally, two spindles automatically splice film rolls with integrated cutting knives, allowing ESC to run a full eight-hour shift with little to no downtime.
As a result, the automated solution accelerated production from 120 pieces per minute to 400 pieces per minute, with the potential for output levels up to 550 products per minute.
The Pack Feeder 4 directs the chocolates from the moulding line to the horizontal flow wrapper without human intervention.
“The Pack 401 wraps our products faster than we can currently produce them,” says Bryan Fuller, ESC’s director of operations. “This positions us for our anticipated growth over the next few years.”
The Bosch flow wrapper ensures that the tiles are correctly oriented before being wrapped, which decreases inadequately packaged products. The previous solution necessitated that defective packaging be manually sorted and discarded. The Pack 401 features sensors that automatically detect and reject inadequate products and packaging, such as empty packages, uncut packages, or packages with film splices, which increases efficiency and saves labor costs.
“Our conservation mission is the core of our organization and we fully trust that Bosch’s technology will produce results,” Fuller adds. “Higher profits and reduced waste mean more donations to our not-for-profit partners.”
|The Bosch flow wrapper ensures that the tiles are correctly oriented before being wrapped, which decreases inadequately packaged products.|
Keeping it clean
ESC also sought a machine with simplified cleaning and maintenance to ensure product safety and remove all traces of allergy-causing ingredients, which is especially important when producing different products on the same machine.
“The Pack 401 is an expertly planned machine — every section is easy to access and clean,” explains Fuller. Crumb trays on the feeder can be removed and emptied during production and all belts and deck plates can quickly be removed without tools, making cleaning fast and easy.
The Pack 401 also helped reduce operating costs by eliminating FDA-mandated materials that were part of the hand-packing operation. When the products were manually transferred to the wrapper, the tiles had to be placed on FDA-approved cardboard sheets and then topped with FDA-approved foam to be stacked without damaging the chocolates. The machines automated feeder eliminates the need for these materials, which cuts down on waste and fuel needed to ship them to landfills.
ESC also uses packaging materials that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved, with paper wrappers composed of recycled content and printed with environmentally friendly, water-based inks. Clearly, sustainability is ingrained in the entire company, from resourcing raw materials to incorporating the most environmentally friendly processing and packaging practices available.
“We always enjoy helping our customers reach their production goals and it’s even sweeter when this also benefits important causes,” says Paul Garms, product manager, Bosch Packaging Technology.
“I’ve wanted this machine for a very long time because Bosch understands our organization and packaging like none other,” says Fuller. “When demand grew to the point of needing increased efficiency, it was an easy decision to make and we’ll likely acquire a second Pack 401 soon.”
For more information please contact: Paul Garms Marketing Manager, Bosch Packaging Technology Tel.: (715) 243-2503; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org