Practice

Packaging consumer goods – with high-level profitability

With modular packaging machines from Schubert, manufacturers can quickly react to market changes

Over the last decades, fast-moving consumer goods have significantly contributed to the evolution of automated packaging processes. The TLM packaging machines from Schubert, with their flexibility and high degree of automation, have been instrumental to these advances. The ability to make quick format changes for frequently changing products gives manufacturers a highly versatile all-rounder packaging system with which they can quickly react to changing markets while setting trends in product formats.

Whether a product succeeds in penetrating the trade greatly depends on the quality of the packaging and on how well it suits the product – and this applies even more so to fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). Whether sealed, deep-drawn or flow packs, the packaging has to be impeccable and reflect the spirit of the times from a consumer perspective and with regards to marketing requirements – in both format and design. Parallel to innovation pressures, cost pressures are also increasing along with the need for products and processes to become more efficient. These objectives can only be profitably reconciled with high-quality equipment. “Our customers are convinced of the quality of their products and, of course, they set equally high standards for their packaging machines. Of course, purchase price plays a key role. But quality and sustainable value requirements quickly exclude cheap solutions,” explains Ralf Schubert, Managing Director of Gerhard Schubert GmbH Verpackungsmaschinen. Enduring partnerships with successful long-established companies bear witness to Schubert’s quality claim which the company has been delivering on for over five decades.

Thanks to their exceptional flexibility, modular TLM systems are especially suitable for frequently changing product formats, such as everyday cosmetic articles.

The challenge of fast-moving goods

FMCGs refer to everyday articles, such as groceries, personal care products, cleaning products, etc. which consumers purchase frequently and without too much thought. “The real challenge in the FMCG packaging sector is to provide optimal robots and functionalities. This includes satisfying requirements such as quick format changeovers, flexible expandability and integrated quality control via image processing systems,” adds Ralf Schubert.

Today, consumer packaged goods frequently change their appearance or they are replaced by new products. It is quite possible that a branded article’s packaging needs to be changed very quickly. Manufacturers of fast-moving products therefore need highly efficient packaging systems in the mid to high performance area which can be converted quickly, while also meeting future demands. Schubert’s answer to these requirements lies in the modular system design of its TLM machines, along with the ability to determine the capabilities of individual machines and to tailor them to specific customer needs.

With the modular top-loading machines from Schubert, if the customer requires higher-level performance, all it takes is the addition of a further submachine.

Based on a modular approach, seven standardised system components are assembled into a robot-supported packaging line. This enables the high-level flexibility that is increasingly important for many customers. For example, if the customer needs higher performance or if further products or ingredients need to be packed together, the machine manufacturer can simply add another submachine to the existing system. With other packaging solutions, in a case like this, the customer would have to invest in an all-new system. With Schubert systems, however, extensions are intrinsic to system design and pay off many times over for the customer over the long run.

A sustainable investment

A packaging machine also has to ensure that quality is reproducible – at any time and around the clock. “Especially for fast-moving products, packaging machines should be designed so that they can perform and produce in three shifts. Only then will they pay for themselves quickly and only then can the customer achieve profitability with a new system,” says Ralf Schubert. Boyd Tunnock – a Scottish icon, a successful confectioner and long-standing Schubert customer – got straight to the point in an interview with Packaging News magazine: “You only get what you pay for.” It is no secret that the value of a system is closely linked to its purchase price. “With the wafer bar packer from Schubert, we have a high-quality TLM machine that is especially sustainable thanks to its exceptional flexibility. It is very important to us that an investment be sustainable,” says Boyd Tunnock.

Reduced to the best

There are many opportunities to profitably tap the potential of the TLM machines. “We make our machines simpler, more accessible and more flexible. We reduce conversion times, offer fully automatic equipment changeovers and eliminate unnecessary interfaces between individual sub-processes,” explains Ralf Schubert. The basis for these developments is the reduction of mechanical parts and increasingly intelligent control. Since the software does not wear out or require maintenance, this technology proves to be not only flexible, but also cost-effective in operation.

Whittaker, the Australian chocolatier, experienced this over three decades ago. Brian and Andrew Whittaker still have a special place in their hearts for their very first Schubert system, a 1982 SSB/SKA. Today, it is still in daily operation boxing 13 to 15 million chocolate bars annually. With their most recent TLM picker line, over and above the system’s high line efficiency, Brian and Andrew Whittaker enjoy the added certainty of having made a purchase they will capitalise on over several decades.

“The efficiency and flexibility of our systems over their entire lifecycle allows producers of FMCGs to continue to produce very competitively even in high-income countries,” says Ralf Schubert. “We are proud that we can contribute to their success with our systems.”

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