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Indulgent moments for connoisseurs all over the world, the Echte Reber Mozart Kugeln are as popular and famous today as their namesake, the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Reber’s closely guarded family recipe conceals a filling of the nest nougat and fine marzipan with almonds and fresh pistachios, double-coated in alpine milk and dark chocolate. For the 150-year-old German market leader from Bad Reichenhall, tradition and quality are values that are upheld even in these fast-moving times: the family-owned company, now in its fifth generation, still produces its complete range of Mozart Kugeln, confectionery pastries and confectionery chocolate at its headquarters.
Well-known beyond Germany, half a million Mozart Kugeln ship every day to more than 50 countries. This turnover would not be possible without highly efficient processes, excellent quality control and agile, reliable packaging equipment. In order to be able to integrate a high-performance packaging system into its highly efficient processes, the company again turned to Gerhard Schubert, parent company of Schubert North America (Booth SU-7651) with confidence as part of a comprehensive production optimization project.
FLEXIBILITY AND RELIABILITY
Like the industry as a whole, the confectionery market is subject to the current trend toward smaller batch sizes and increasingly diverse, short-lived packaging types. For traditional, medium-sized manufacturers such as Reber, future-proofing and machine availability are especially important when investing in a new packaging line. For this reason, flexible formats and a fail-safe system were at the top of the requirements list for Reber Operations Manager Reinhold Kaiser. The new packaging machine had to be able to address all market trends for at least 10 years.
At the same time, the manufacturer wanted to retain the tried-and-tested, high-quality packaging for its Mozart Kugeln. It consists of carded boxes with separate bases and lids that are erected without glue. Different trays, in formats of six-packs, 12-packs or other variants, hold the products. To protect the fine marzipan balls, a cushioning paper is placed on top. Lovers of the sweet treats also find a guarantee card in each box, with which Reber attests to the authenticity of the product. All these process steps needed to be integrated into the system—as well as quality control and the possibility of aligning the balls in each tray so that the portraits of the world-famous namesake on the printed gold foils are oriented in the same manner.
CUSTOMIZED DUAL SYSTEM
These are demanding requirements which Schubert was able to meet thanks to its extremely flexible modular machine concept. Markus Vogelmann, sales account manager at Gerhard Schubert, explains: “The solution consists of two separate packaging machines—one to put the products into the trays and one to make the cartons. This means that our customer can not only process its current product range, but is already equipped for all conceivable future formats.” Schubert has designed a combination of a picker line and a packing line for primary packaging. If single-sort formats are to be packed, the picker line operates. If mixed boxes are to be packed, the lateral infeed belts are utilized and the system is changed over to a packing line operation.
For the secondary packaging, i.e., the praline cartons, Reber uses a Schubert cartoner. It is located as a separate system in the production area, but is directly connected to the upstream pick-and-place machine from Schubert. Depending on the format, the filled trays either run into the new cartoner or to existing equipment. “The availability of the packaging solution is exceptionally high due to the separate systems, which can be integrated into the overall production in various ways,” says Vogelmann. “The picker line can also handle special tray formats such as Christmas editions. If one of the lines comes to a standstill for maintenance or the like, production can still continue on the other packaging machine.”
PICKING AND PACKING
The combined picker and packing line consists of six machine frames, and the products arrive directly from wrapping machines via feed belts. Several incident-light scanners check the quality of the Mozart Kugeln already wrapped in foil. The Schubert image processing system also detects the film imprint on the wrapping paper and passes the information to the robots. Eight robots then pick up product from the product belt or from the side belts, orient each piece and place it in the trays in correct alignment. The robots’ individually adapted suction tools ensure exceptionally gentle product handling. For Reber, the machine builders chose the F4 robots from Schubert’s system components.
With their wide working area at right angles to the belt, the SCARA [selective compliance articulated robot arm] robots are especially suitable for this special machine layout and for switching between the picker line and the packing line. Vogelmann adds: “During the planning process, we worked with Reber and the tray supplier to convert the existing trays to automatically destackable variants.”
MORE THAN JUST CARTONING
Following the pick-and-place machine, filled trays move into the cartoner. In the compact system consisting of just four TLM frames, the carton bases are erected, the trays are inserted, the padding paper and warranty card are inserted and the erected lids are applied. Schubert’s Transmodul transport robot connects all process steps without the need for any interfaces. Up to seven cartons can be filled at the same time. “All packaging steps now run fully automatically and with a significant increase in performance of more than 30%,” reports Vogelmann.
Kaiser is pleased: “ is will not only enable us to package our core competence of Kugeln very efficiently, in the future we will also be able to produce assortments with up to four different products as well as other innovations. Furthermore, we are very flexible with the tray formats, so that the investment in the improved automation will also pay off in the medium term. The stage is set for further innovation with the new overall system.”
For more info, visit www.schubert.group.