The project kicked off on the day of the ten-year anniversary of one of Europe’s most modern sweet candy production facilities.
“On 12 January 2016, we started production of fruit gums,” reports Oliver Schindler, managing director of Sweet Tec GmbH in Boizenburg-an-der-Elbe, Germany. And within just a few months, 40 million fruit gums were being produced every day in three shifts from Monday to Friday at the plant location in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, then packaged in mini-, standard- or maxi-bags ranging in size from 15 to 400 g and shipped throughout the world. In addition to that, around 37 million hard-boiled and chewy sweets in the broadest range of flavors are shipped from the confectioner’s production facility.
“These numbers make it clear that our machinery has to be fully functional. We cannot afford any downtime,” says the managing director.
“Any unplanned halt in production negatively impacts the upstream and downstream systems,” adds Ralf Dressler, head of bonbon production.
Reliability as purchase criterion
No surprise then that the confectionery manufacturer relies on machinery that has proven itself both technically and economically from its inception. Since 12 January 2006, more than ten years ago, Sweet-Tec has used SmartPacker machines from GEA to package their hard-boiled and chewy sweets.
Their reliability and efficiency prompted the company to invest in additional GEA machines, the latest generation of SmartPacker CX units to package their fruit gums.
The company also acquired SmartPacker TwinTube C high-speed machines for packaging small portions. These machines can run at speeds of 500 bags a minute. All models are created by GEA and built in Weert, the Netherlands. Both models are simple to maintain, easy to clean and extremely reliable so running costs are kept to a minimum.
“Here at our plant, the machine supplier has a very good reputation,” says Dressler, who joined the company at its inception. “We’ve been impressed since day one with the technology and service.”
When selecting its processing and packaging equipment suppliers, Sweet Tec focuses on two essential points. First of all, the machines must be able to provide the necessary runtime during everyday operations.
Secondly, because only a few replacement parts are kept in stock on location, the response time from the supplier’s service team is important, so that replacement parts and/or repairs can be provided as quickly as possible by GEA’s service technicians whenever necessary.
“For us it goes without saying that our machine suppliers must be reliably available for contact by phone, day or night,” explains Schindler.
Packaging gummy bears
Since the beginning of this year, fruit gums round out Sweet Tec’s product range or chewy and hard-boiled sweets. Fruit gum production at the plant entails cooking, depositing, drying, dusting, coating, oiling and then scaling and packaging. All packaging is done in climate-controlled rooms at constant temperature and humidity to preserve the quality of the product.
The company uses vertical form/fill/seal bag makers for its packaging. The advantages of GEA SmartPacker vertical packaging machines include its ability to handle high cycle rates due to their constant film transport. Depending on the model, the cycle consists of up to 250 bags per minute. “We rely on maximum frequency,” explains Schindler.
Additionally, bags can be produced in a wide variety of forms. That makes the machines highly flexible. The maximum bag widths for tubular bags are between 250 and 400 mm.
Consumer safety is always a priority. Recall actions harm a company’s image. For that reason, the vertical bag makers feature a sensitive “product-in-seal” detection system, which automatically opens the sealing jaws if a foreign object or production particle is discovered in the sealing area, without causing any interruption to the production as a whole.
An added benefit is that contamination or damage to the cross-sealing element and to the blade is avoided, which means less downtime and less waste. The constant film transport system ensures excellent traceability for the high-speed operation. Even sensitive film materials can be easily transported. Sweet Tec uses standardized film constructions that simply differentiate between bonbon and fruit gum packaging.
The GEA TwinTube high-speed packaging system offers additional production benefits. It features two format pipes simultaneously in one single tube. In total, this doubles the packaging performance, bringing it up to 500 bags per minute with an individual weight of 10 to 18 g. Despite the very high cycle rate, wear and tear is minimal; that means there are practically no running costs.
Another benefit involves size. In limited spaces, the compact packaging machine leaves plenty of space for other machines so that productivity per square meter increases.
Both packaging units have become the centerpiece of fruit gum production; the interface between portioning and packaging technologies, especially when it comes to changing packaging formats. The sophisticated control system ensures perfect synchronisation with the multiple-head scale.
“Also in this area, both of the machine providers involved have worked perfectly together,” asserts Schindler.
Packaging Technologies // Equipment
Sweetness on a stick wrapped in Top Twist
Dresden, Germany-based Theegarten-Pactec is offering a state of the art machine for the packaging of lollipops in Top Twist. The first cut-and-wrap machine of the revised EW7 was recently delivered to a candy producer in Malaysia.
“We can see great market potential for the Top Twist folding style of lollipops, especially in Asia and South America,” says Markus Rustler, managing director of Theegarten Pactec.
The EW7 forming, cutting and packaging machine wraps soft caramels like toffees and chewing sweets with a lollipop stick in a Top Twist. This machine type was already in the company range. Because of the growing demand in Asia and South America, the specialist in the packaging of small-sized confectionery items has thoroughly revised the machine and brought it electronically as well as mechanically up to the state of the art.
The most important innovation in the unit’s redesign was the integration of a servo-driven wrapping material take-off. This thereby achieves an exact cutting accuracy of the wrapping material and a simple adjustment on format change as well as precise print image centering.
The EW7 conforms with all applicable safety standards: all parts in contact with the product are executed in food grade non-corroding stainless steel. This provides the machine with increased protection from rust and fouling.
Theegarten-Pactec also equipped the system with a modern machine controller and again implemented the company’s proven gear design for the transmission of mechanical motions in the new EW7. Fully automatic operation makes possible the control of several machines by only one operator.
As a result, the Malaysian sweets manufacturer is again relying on a long-term investment. The customer already successfully applied an EW7 version from the 1990s for the wrapping of its lollipops. The purchase of the new machine increases the capacities of the Asian confectionery item producer. The Kuala Lumpur-based company wraps 350 products per minute with the new machine.
Medium-speed machine meets flexibility and maintenance needs
Earlier this year, ACMA debuted the Wm 600 CC, an intermittent movement machine for the multi-style packaging of products such as chocolates, taffies and flat-bottomed candies. The Wm 600 CC is a machine designed to meet the specific demands of the markets that require medium-speed solutions (the machine can reach 600 cycles per minute) characterized by high flexibility and easy use.
In fact, the Wm 600 CC enables realizing various presentations in bunch, double-twist, single-twist, fancy and point-fold, ensuring a perfect package also for products with inner and outer wraps with different dimensions.
The compact layout enables it to integrate perfectly inside various production environments, while the balcony-type design architecture and the use of brushless motors make for easy operating, maintenance and cleaning activities. The offer is completed by the possibility to work with all the main wrapping materials and the standard equipment of the ARA system. (Auto Remote Assistance)
The confectionery portfolio from Bologna, Italy-based ACMA is enriched by solutions including the ACMA M888, a multi-style high-speed machine, to the flowpackers of the SP series, providing a wide range of horizontal form/fill/seal packers.