Tradition and quality with efficient processes and high performance packaging system
Little 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 finest nougat and fine marzipan with almonds and fresh pistachios, double-coated in alpine milk and dark chocolate. For the German market leader from Bad Reichenhall, tradition and quality are values that are upheld even in these fast-moving times: The company still produces its complete range of Mozart Kugeln, confectionery pastries and confectionery chocolate at its headquarters.
Half a million Mozart Kugeln leave the factory every day and are exported to more than 50 countries. This turnover would not be possible without highly efficient processes, excellent quality control and agile, completely reliable packaging equipment. In order to be able to integrate a high-performance flexible packaging system into its highly efficient processes, the company once again turned to Schubert with confidence as part of a comprehensive production optimisation project.
Mozart Kugeln: flexible packaging and production reliability
Like the industry as a whole, the confectionery market is also subject to the current trend towards 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 in the long term. The new flexible packaging machine had to be able to address all market trends for at least ten years.
At the same time, the manufacturer wanted to retain the tried & 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 6-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 specialities will 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.
A customised solution consisting of two systems
These are demanding requirements which Schubert was able to meet in full with an extremely flexible packaging customised solution thanks to 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 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, on the other hand, mixed boxes are to be packed, the lateral infeed belts are utilised and the system is switched 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 & 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,” Markus Vogelmann highlights. “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 of picker line and flexible packaging line
The combined picker line and the flexible packing line consists of six machine frames, and the products come directly from wrapping machines via feed belts 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 wrapping paper and passes the information on to the robots. Eight pick & place robots then pick up the products from the product belt or optionally from the side belts, turn them to the correct orientation and place them correctly aligned into the trays.
The individually adapted suction tools of the robots 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 robots are especially suitable for this special machine layout and for switching between the picker line and the packing line. Markus 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
Following the pick & place machine, the 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 per cent,” describes Markus Vogelmann.
Operations Manager Reinhold Kaiser is pleased: “This 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.”
The finest confectionery products from the house of Reber
More than 150 years of tradition and five generations of craftsmanship go into every Mozart Kugel from Reber. Selected natural ingredients and traditional recipes are at the heart of the exquisite confectionery. In addition to Mozart Kugeln, the Paul Reber GmbH & Co. KG family business, based in Bad Reichenhall, also produces confectionery pastries and chocolates. The exquisite specialities are known and loved far beyond the borders of Germany. The USA, China and Russia are among the more than 50 export markets.