Reber Updates Packaging Lines For Future Expansion

Crailsheim, Germany — Paul Reber GmbH + Co. KG‘s confectionery products are moving into the future with a more diverse range of cartons through an installation from Gerhard Schubert GmbH. The equipment supplier recently installed two new TLM lines that it says will increase packaging output by about 30 percent.

Reber’s full line of Mozart Kugeln brand confectionery pastries and confectionery chocolate are produced at its headquarters. Half a million Mozart Kugeln leave the factory every day and are exported to more than 50 countries. To integrate a high-performance packaging system into its highly efficient processes, the company turned to Schubert. 

In Focus: Flexibility, Production Reliability
An incident-light scanner in the Schubert image processing system is used to check the orientation and quality of the Mozart Kugeln.

The confectionery market is subject to current trends toward smaller batch sizes and increasingly diverse 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 top requirements for Reber Operations Manager Reinhold Kaiser.

The new packaging machine had to address market trends for at least 10 years. At the same time, the manufacturer wanted to retain the current tried and tested packaging of cardboard boxes with separate bases and lids that are assembled without glue. Different trays, in formats of six- and 12-packs and other counts, hold the products. Finally, to protect the fine marzipan balls, a cushioning paper is placed on top. Consumers will also find a guarantee card in each box, which attests to the authenticity of the product.

All these process steps needed to be integrated into the system, along with 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.

A Customized Solution Of Two Systems

These are requirements Schubert was tasked with meeting through its modular machine concept. Markus Vogelmann, sales account manager at Gerhard Schubert GmbH, 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 cannot only process its current product range, but is 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. Alternately, if mixed boxes are to be packed, the lateral infeed belts are utilized and the system is switched to a packing line operation.

For the secondary packaging, i.e. the praline cartons, Reber uses a Schubert cartoner located as a separate system in the production area, but directly connected to the upstream pick & place Schubert machine. Depending on the format, the filled trays either run into the new cartoner or to existing equipment.

The Transmodul transport robot seamlessly connects the packaging steps.

“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,” Vogelmann says. “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.”

A Combination Picker, Packing Line

The combined picker and packing line consists of six machine frames, with products coming directly from wrapping machines via feed belts feeding into the Schubert line. 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 wrappers and passes the information on to the robots.

Eight pick & place robots then pick up the products from the main belt or optionally from side belts, turn them to the correct orientation and place them into the trays. The robots’ individually adapted suction tools ensure gentle product handling. For Reber, the machine builders chose F4 robots from Schubert’s system components. With their wide working area at right angles to the belt, the Scara robots are especially suitable for this 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.”

A Cartoner With Additional Functions

From the pick & place machine, filled trays move into the cartoner. In the compact system consisting of 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. Up to seven cartons can be filled at the same time.Schubert’s Transmodul transport robot connects all process steps without the need for any interfaces.

“All packaging steps now run fully automatically and with a significant increase in performance of more than 30 percent,” says Vogelmann.

Kaiser adds: “This will not only enable us to package our core competence of Kugeln very efficiently, in the future we will 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.”