Healthy snacks, including a wide range of bars, are flying off the shelves. As a consequence of functional ingredients, snack bars are being revamped as version 2.0. These so-called functional foods are popular across all generations, since they promise great taste in addition to being healthy.
The conscious consumer
Today’s range of snack bars includes products designed specifically to support certain health aspects; for example: nut bars to increase concentration, special bars for breastfeeding mothers that contain key vitamins and trace minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc and folic acid, as well as protein bars to build muscle mass for athletes. Functional bars, therefore, can meet almost every nutritional requirement.
Due to better diagnoses of food intolerances and more frequent food scandals, almost all age and consumer groups monitor information on ingredients, manufacturing processes and product origins. Consumers demand ever healthier and purer ingredients and additives. Bars should therefore not only be made with healthy ingredients, but should also be produced and packaged in a hypoallergenic environment. Lastly, the right kind of packaging also contributes to consumer decisions as they shop the supermarket shelves. Key consumer information should be clearly visible and the packaging should be high quality, keep the product fresh and represent brand quality.
Ready for the Bar Wars
Snacks—especially in the form of bars—are registering continuous growth. Product cycles are short, and the variety of flavors is huge. Consequently, manufacturers must be able to continually introduce new, innovative bar products to the market in order to maintain or increase their market share. To guarantee optimal productivity and maximum flexibility, manufacturers rely on an increase in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) for the entire system - from bar manufacturing to primary and secondary packaging as well as end of line packaging.
Bar manufacturing must be geared toward long production runs with uniform quality. This is especially important with regard to the wide range of bars. Efficient bar production requires each component to possess a high degree of flexibility that enables quick product changes. Broad product portfolios in particular build upon a consistent quality through process safety. This includes carefully balanced ingredient mixing proportions. Equipment produces an even mixing quality for varying mass flow rates, is vital.
A high level of Overall Equipment Effectiveness is based on integrated system components, such as the Bosch bar packaging system (seen on the following page). As soon as the bars have passed through the production process, a consistent product flow is safeguarded from product infeed to primary packaging, cartoning and end-of-line packaging. A constant system speed of 1,500 products per minute ensures optimal productivity. In addition to speed, format flexibility also plays an increasing role. Being able to offer a range of bars in different sizes and styles of packaging requires packaging equipment that facilitates quick format changes.
The Bosch bar packaging system features an intelligent product infeed, a flow wrapper that offers format flexibility, and a topload cartoner with a patented, quick changeover concept for a range of carton sizes. Overall, it offers maximum flexibility combined with a small footprint.
Range of bar formats requires an efficient hygiene concept
Easy and quick cleaning processes are a prerequisite for the production of functional foods. Cross-contamination, especially of allergenic ingredients such as nuts, must be avoided at all costs. With sticky bars and/or nut products, the contamination level is particularly high, which means easy cleaning is crucial. The goal is to keep downtimes due to cleaning as short as possible. Two factors are decisive: gentle product handling and hygienic system design. Furthermore, optimal transport is continuous and gentle. It prevents friction, while rounded lateral guides reduce breakage and ultimately prevent the accumulation of dirt in the system. Integrated washing systems can be used on conveyor belts throughout the production process, for example. This minimizes downtime since the frequency and intensity of complete cleaning is reduced.
Bars 4.0: Prepared for manufacturing the bar of the future
Manufacturer benefits can be maximized with a holistic bar system: high performance and availability, simple handling, fast format changes and cleaning, minor maintenance and high layout flexibility. In combination, these factors contribute to a high level of OEE which manufacturers can now improve upon even more thanks to new Industry 4.0 applications. Among others, Bosch Packaging Technology’s bar system supports format changes using RFID tags. If a format change is required in production, operators can use an RFID reader to identify and change the necessary components. This increases efficiency and reduces errors. The process data and production parameters are available in real time on the human machine interface and on mobile terminals, which means operators can intervene quickly and precisely—sometimes before a problem arises. Industry 4.0 applications provide crucial support for operating and maintenance staff, and increase machine uptime.
Based in Waiblingen near Stuttgart, Germany, Bosch Packaging Technology is one of the leading suppliers of process and packaging technology. At over 30 locations in more than 15 countries worldwide, the company develops and produces complete solutions for the pharmaceuticals, food and confectionery industries.
Learn more at boschpackaging.com