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Round-the-clock biscuit production

Source:Ringier Food Date:2018-07-18
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BISCUIT production is a highly competitive marketplace. GlobalData Analysts report over 350 companies globally with an annual cookie and cracker sales of over half a million U.S. dollars[1]. Staying competitive is vital, meaning that manufacturers must keep production lines running with maximum uptime, high efficiency and minimal operator involvement. The modern economy of ‘just-in-time’ deliveries and round-the-clock production makes meeting targets paramount.

Food manufacturers name several key points when aiming for purchasing new equipment: initial cost of purchase, running costs, adaptability to future needs, and ease of operation. GlobalData (see chart 1) shows that these issues vary in priority from region to region, with North American companies concerned with initial investments, European manufacturers prioritizing running costs, and Asia-Pacific producers focusing on equipment adaptability. Ease of operation remains important throughout the world, especially in countries lacking a qualified workforce.

Chart 1.

Regardless of your geographic location, how can you ensure your cookie or cracker production is consistently on target and your budgets are in check?  

  • Let’s start with the initial cost of packaging solutions. According to VDMA (the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association)[2] on average manufacturers use only 70 percent of their installed performance or functionality. The remaining 30 percent tie up capital, but do not contribute to profit. To address this, manufacturers opt for scalable processing and packaging solutions that can expand as their needs grow. Smaller biscuit producers may initially employ hand-fed wrappers, gradually adding feeding systems, carton erectors, formers and other secondary and tertiary equipment when required.
  • Many companies aim for low initial investment cost but with high running costs at the same time, burning money day by day. Below are two examples that contribute to lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and higher OEE when it comes to biscuit packaging equipment.
  • Reduced cleaning time – In developed countries, you can save up to 35,000 US dollars or one head count per year, if cleaning time drops by ten minutes per day. The technology’s payback period is roughly three years, resulting in overall savings of 105,000 US dollars. This could persuade a customer to invest a bit more in equipment upfront to benefit from lower running costs.
  • Increased uptime – If one lane runs short on biscuits, the entire production doesn’t need to be stopped. Bosch’s innovative automatic lane balancing allows the dynamic extraction of a variable number of cookies from each magazine to compensate for the varying product supply from the oven. 

Biscuits on pile packaging system

Biscuits on pile packaging system

  • Ease of operations and maintenance is another area where even small improvements have a significant effect on OEE. Every ten minutes saved per day result in significant time gains throughout the lifecycle of the packaging system. Furthermore, skilled workers are difficult to find and still require training to operate complex systems. To make their lives easier and ensure uninterrupted production flow, here are some points to look out for:
  • Accessibility to critical machine parts allows operators to resolve issues quickly in case of jams, cleaning or troubleshooting, further increasing uptime. Open designs also contribute to better hygiene, enabling producers to meet food safety regulations.
  • Fast changeovers, preferably without tools, and vertical start-ups support a high OEE.
  • Adjustments via HMI accomplished during production without stopping the system. For example, modern technologies can accommodate inconsistencies in product thickness resulting from the baking process, with the stacking mechanism adjusted via the HMI, significantly reducing downtime.
  • Industry 4.0 applications take production to a whole new level:
    • Bosch’s Industry 4.0 Operation Assistant apps guide operators through each step of the production processes, format changes and cleaning maintenance using text, images and video, reducing operator errors and increasing uptime.
    • Maintenance Assistant apps visualize upcoming maintenance and cleaning needs to prevent unscheduled downtime.
    • Industry Maintenance Support System apps create, prioritize and organize tickets for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance tasks, further boosting OEE. 
  • Facing the uncertainty of the future. With ever-changing consumer preferences and the development of new products, it is hard to define production needs for the entire lifecycle of packaging machinery. Flexible solutions give manufacturers the freedom to adapt their production to business requirements they are not aware of today. Adaptability to different pack sizes, formats and materials is another important point raised by our customers. Easy changeovers of pack sizes and formats enables pain-free seasonal promotions as well as future-proofing your biscuit system.

In the ideal world, you should be able to plan your production output with precision, organize deliveries ‘just on time’ and stock as little ready product as possible. Reliable, robust and flexible processing and packaging equipment gets you closer to this goal.

[1] GlobalData database, Biscuit-Outlook_Countries_Value-Volume_2014-2018, Category includes Cookies (Sweet Biscuits) and Savory Biscuits_All sub categories, 21.09.2015 10:04:29

[2] VDMA, Roland Berger (2014), WZL:Strategien im Maschinen- und Anlagenbau


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