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CPG Line of the year | Nestlé: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

High-speed packaging  of sweets is no sweat

Twin lines packaging 1,440 confections each per minute are housed in a new $136 million facility in the desert.

Headquartered in Switzerland and formed by an early 20th century merger, Nestlé is one of the world’s leading food and nutrition companies. Expanding from its humble roots of offering only condensed milk and infant baby formula, the company now owns 6,000 brands across several markets and industries, including bottled water, coffee, frozen foods, pet food, ice cream, infant foods and chocolate and confectionery products.

Today, the company has 281,000 employees with operations in 81 countries around the globe. To strengthen its presence in the Middle East, Nestlé recently debuted a new $136 million manufacturing facility in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“While one wouldn’t automatically associate chocolate and confectionery products with a country in the Middle East, for Nestlé, this area of the world has been a traditional market,” says Paul Bulcke, Nestlé’s Chief Executive Officer. “Nestlé has been present in the Middle East for 75 years, with an emphasis on sourcing locally and creating new local employment.

“By opening the new facility in our regional headquarters in Dubai we will be closer to our consumers in the region and can better adapt our products to their needs and preferences. The Middle East is a very important part of our business and our ongoing investments demonstrate our confidence in the region.”

When developing this new plant, Nestlé turned to partner Bosch Packaging Technology ( to supply packaging lines for its KitKat, Quantum and Chunky Wafer bars.

A lean approach

For its new, dedicated plant, Nestlé wanted to follow a lean approach when selecting machinery and designing the production processes. High output rates were a must. Nestlé’s supplier requirements were quite challenging, including documents from detailed technical specifications for the equipment’s manufacturing up to a detailed organizational life-cycle planning at an early stage.

The company sought to develop two packaging lines able to handle a variety of products at very high output rates, with each handling 1,440 products per minute. These lines would have to produce flow-wrapped two- and four-finger KitKat wafer bars and Quantum and Chunky wafer bars, as well another variety of the KitKat bar, plus multipacking and cartoning. Nestlé from the beginning followed a very lean strategic approach for implementing all new machinery and processes in the plant-it was important to ensure operational efficiency from the first day on.

As a major supplier of the project, Bosch Packaging Technology provided two line solutions for the entire packaging process, from the first handling of the product by the distribution station up until the secondary packaging for retailers. The two lines include a cross feeding station (only for line 1), Rotzinger DAA flow regulators, Sigpack HSM flow wrappers, Sigpack TTL-i toploaders and Sigpack HCM flow wrappers for multipacks, all from Bosch Packaging Technology and all seamlessly integrated.

Taking the heat

A particular challenge was building a line from scratch in a desert environment where procedures that worked well in other parts of the world could not be applied. All packaging equipment needed to be perfectly packaged and sealed to prevent exposure to the harsh and sandy desert conditions, something Bosch successfully mastered. This allowed Nestlé to ensure top hygiene and quality standards of its confectioneries.

As a consequence of the very high output rates and tough project requirements, questions on operator training, continuous production support and improvement and spare parts sourcing had to be thoroughly discussed and reviewed. This ensured the plant could be operated as efficiently as possible to meet Nestlé’s targets.

Additionally, Nestlé operators were trained on an existing line installation for the same products in central Europe prior to the installation of the new machinery in Dubai. This allowed operators to be fully trained as soon as the Dubai lines were up and running.

An embedded Bosch engineer helped with the introduction of the new line technology at Nestlé during all key stages including installation, factory acceptance testing, on-site commissioning and the site acceptance test, and was also available after the Bosch crew had left the site.

For Nestlé, it was a sweet ending to a major project.

CPG Line of the year | Ryder Supply Solutions: Beaver Dam, WI

‘Cool’ automation: IQF vegetables packaged on-demand

A complete 70-per minute bagging line anchored by a robotic palletizer highlights a line started up in 2012 at these contract packaging operations.

by Rick Lingle, Editor in Chief

Built in 1975, Ryder Supply Solutions’ 327,000-square-foot packaging and frozen food distribution center in Beaver Dam, WI, has flourished over the years, thanks to a strategic location in a major vegetable growing area. In 1995, the facility added packaging to its storage and individually quick-frozen (IQF) processing capability for contract packaged fresh vegetables.

What began as one vertical form-fill-seal machine has grown into five FFS systems over the years, the latest of which was part of a new line commissioned in early 2012.

Distribution center manager Bob Rasmussen says the idea was to make this latest line as automated as possible. “As a contract packager, we have to remain flexible and not focus on just one bag size or one style,” Rasmussen explains. “That puts a little more pressure on what we can do and what we can’t do as far as automation.”

That meant from the start of the line, with an advanced bagging system, to the finish, where a robotic palletizer prepares the unit loads for stretch wrapping. As with its other four packaging lines, the straight line layout gives their operations as much efficiency and space utilization as possible, according to Rasmussen.  And because the entire packaging line is kept at a chilly 40 degrees, it’s a “cool” line in more ways than one.

IQF veggies are supplied from a double-station tote dumper to the scales with supplemental ingredient add-ins also an option. The ingredients are metered by a 24-head Yamato ( Sigma 524 MV computerized netweigher atop a Novus 350 FFS packager from HayssenSandiacre (, a Barry-Wehmiller Co.

“With the Sigma quad scale, we’re able to add multiple ingredients to a bag in a very accurate and controlled process,” Rasmussen points out. Besides frozen vegetables, “it allows us to add sauce packs and eventually protein portions, too.”

The bagger offers several different forming capabilities and cassettes for quick changeovers.  It produces 60-70 bags/minute for most products in sizes from 8 ounces to 5 pounds. Hayssen is a brand that the facility has used previously.

“This gives us everything that our other lines give us, but provides it all in one machine,” says Rasmussen. “We can do everything from gussets to steam-vent packs to a normal pillow pack to a doy quad-seal format.  We have a lot of new flexibility with the Novus.”

The bags are conveyed through a checkweigher and metal detector and then to a G400 automatic case packing system from Fallas Automation ( It comprises an erector, vibrator, gravity-drop case packer, closer and case taper. Case counts are 9, 12 or 18 bags.

RSS had a good experience with Fallas on another line. “We liked it so much that if we were ever to put another one in we wanted to go with Fallas because it’s been basically problem-free from day one,” says Rasmussen. “It just runs.  Plus parts are in-house and service has been great.  Our experience running it has been remarkable.”

Sealed cases are conveyed for palletizing to a Fanuc ( M410ib/140H Robot.  The robotic palletizer features five-axis movement, a 140-kg (308-pound) capacity, a reach of 2850 mm (9.35 feet) and repeatability of ±0.5 mm (0.02 inches). It is capable of handling up to 40 cases per minute pulled from two infeed lines. It also picks and positions the pallet and slip sheets. RSS’s robot is programmed for 48 different pallet configurations, though it can handle more.

“We call it the ‘RyderBot’,” jokes Rasmussen. “I wanted to call it R2D2, but that was taken.”

Sharpe Engineering & Equipment ( designed and implemented the robotic case palletizing cell with four main goals: Safety, flexibility, efficiency and reliability.

The robot was a big jump up in technology for the company, but Ryder wanted to have an ergonomically strong solution. “We looked at what’s available for automation and robots aren’t cutting edge anymore, they’re used everywhere,” states Rasmussen. “We picked what we expect is best in class in the industry.”

The final stop on the packaging line is a Wulftec Intl. ( automatic wrapper that was selected for price and delivery. 

Packaging at the facility operates 24/5 year round and 24/7 during the June-October packing season.  

This freshly grafted packaging line pushes Ryder’s roots deeper into the region’s frozen vegetables segment. “I think we’re in a good position and we have all the capabilities we need to service the industry today,” Rasmussen says. “That’s what Ryder does; if customers have a challenge, we want to be there to help them.”

CPG Line of the year | United Packaging Group, Colton, CA

Water bottler taps into private-label CSDs

Two new 600 bpm lines extend United Packaging Group’s capabilities into carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) and solidify its position as a do-everything beverage bottler.

Filling a need in the market is the desire of any private label packager and that is also literally true of United Packaging Group ( The start-up of two bottling lines in 2011 pushed the contract bottler from water and flavored still waters into carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) and high-end functional beverages.

Previously, the company has packaged spring water, purified water, enhanced water and enhanced-water flavored drinks. Bottle sizes have ranged from three ounce to gallon and 2.5-gallon bottles and just about everything in between.

When UPG tapped into this bubbly new market, it hit a gusher by bringing an influx of new business onboard.

“We’re definitely seeing growth in the private-label segment,” offers sales director Mike Dettmers. “Our customer base is growing rapidly. The ability to manufacture various types of beverages under one roof really sets us apart from the mainstream contract bottler.  Flexibility is key when tasked to produce for several beverage brands offering completely different products to the market.”

The lines operates at speeds to 600 bottles per minute and can run from 8-ounce to 1.5-Liter sizes in neck finishes of 26/7, 28 or 38 mm. “We’re a high-level operation that’s far beyond what you typically see in a mid-volume bottling facility,” adds Dettmers. “We’ve invested in equipment that’s as state-of-the-art as [any bottler] – inclusive of a Coke or Pepsi facility.”

The first line starts with a compact bottle unscrambler from Nalbach Engineering ( added in mid-2011.  According to Dettmers, these highly efficient unscramblers (see sidebar on line two) utilize a vertical sorting wheel rather than the typical horizontal sorting-bowl, for a much smaller footprint.

Bottles are handled by the neck using Lanfranchi ( air conveyor machinery that presents them into the filler. The airveyors changeover from one neck size to another automatically with the push of a button, notes Dettmers.

Accurate fill = tight tolerances

The rest of the major pieces of equipment are from Sidel (, the first a 100-valve Eurotronica FM-C monoblock filler. The electronic counter-pressure volumetric filler is suitable for both carbonated and still products in PET bottles. Product volume is measured by magnetic flow meters.  “This technology has made it very easy to stay within our tightly managed product specifications and fill levels because the system is able to hold steady within an extremely tight tolerance,” explains Dettmers.

Bottles discharge from the monoblock system and are conveyed for labeling using one of two systems. One is a Sidel Rollquattro F-35 that is capable of running liner-less roll-fed, hot-glue labels as well pressures-sensitive labels. The other is a Tripack ( shrink- sleeving system comprising an HSA-300T tandem-head sleever paired with a 20-foot-long SRT-2 steam shrink tunnel. A film accumulation system permits splices done on-the-fly for no-downtime changeovers.

Labeled bottles continue on to a Sidel Cermex packer that is capable of 6-, 12-, 18-, 24- and 35-pack configurations. Cases can be bundled utilizing a tray, pad or even fully unsupported multipacks depending on the customer’s individual needs.

For UPG, the new lines provide an exclamation point to UPG’s claim as a “one-stop shop for water and beverage bottling.”


A ‘one in a half million’ second line

In mid-2011, UPG started up a second new bottling line-the fourth at the plant-that is capable of filling both CSD as well as still water.  It is comprised of a Nalbach unscrambler and a 60-valve Sidel Eurotronica FM-S monoblock still water filler as well as an older generation 600-bpm CSD filler purchased to supplement the Eurotronica FM-C on the other line.  The FM-S has been upgraded with “Vortex” valves, Sidel’s newest electronic fill valve technology, that measures fill levels through flow turbulance rather than mineral conductivity.  This allows UPG to fill the purest waters in the world, one of which is their own nationally distributed brand PENTA water. Penta has a total dissolved solid (TDS) level of less than one-half part per million.  Penta is considered one of the purest waters on the planet and the result of a patented 13-step, 11-hour purification process.

It also boasts the facility’s second Sidel Rollquattro F-35.  “After the success on Line 1, it was apparent that the Rollquattro was a must for both lines” states Mike Dettmers.  “The quality of application and extremely low scrap rate obtained by the first system made it a no-brainer to purchase the second Rollquatro.”

Labeled bottles continue on to a Zambelli (

LFT30 packer, which offers capabilities similar to the Sidel Cermex and include 6- to 35-pack options in trays, on pads or fully unsupported.