Innovative packaging machinery from Theegarten-Pactec at ProSweets Cologne

28 January to 31 January  – Hall 10.1 | Stand G020, H029

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packaging
Theegarten-Pactec has refined its FPC5 – a modular, high-speed packaging machine for wrapping chocolate bars in flow packs – to process paper-based packaging and recyclable mono-films.

The trend towards greater sustainability continues unabated and has long since grown from a niche topic into a global movement. While political stakeholders – and, increasingly, consumers – attach significant value to more environmentally friendly packaging, the processing of these new materials continues to pose certain challenges. 

Theegarten-Pactec, a company from Dresden, Germany, is a key driver of innovation in this space: it is constantly refining its high-speed packaging machinery to enable producers and brand manufacturers to process sustainable packaging materials for confectionery and non-food items at industrial scale.

Despite various crises, rising costs and inflation, consumers still attach significant value to environmentally friendly packaging. According to the Sustainable Product Packaging study published in June 2023 by global consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, as many as 62% of consumers in Germany are prepared to pay more for sustainably packaging products, up to an additional 7%. Yet, despite this willingness on the part of consumers, confectionery brand manufacturers looking to adopt more environmentally friendly packaging face challenges in other areas. This is because more sustainable materials often present a challenge in the packaging process.

Sustainable materials: recyclable but demanding

Conventional packaging involves laminating different materials such as plastics, metals and papers together to achieve an optimal combination of strength, flexibility and a barrier function to protect the product. When it comes to sustainability, however, these laminated materials present a problem: they can be difficult or even impossible to separate and thus cannot be recycled. At present, mono-materials and paper-based packaging materials are among the most commonly used alternatives and are said to offer better recyclability. However, such materials pose greater challenges during the packaging process. They can tear more easily, are more difficult to seal and sometimes have inferior folding properties.

Theegarten-Pactec aims to support producers and brand manufacturers in their quest for improved sustainability. The specialist in small-sized confectionery packaging from Dresden, Germany, is constantly developing and refining its machines with a systematic focus on processing sustainable materials at industrial scale.

Patented pre-heating line for paper-based flow packs

Theegarten-Pactec has, for example, re-engineered the FPC5 – its high-speed packaging machine for chocolate bars– to such an extent that it can now process paper-based flow packs in the conventional cold-sealing process as well as in the far more complex heat-sealing process. In fact, the machine is capable of producing flow pack packaging with integrated heat-seal capability and a pure paper content of at least 95%.

By pre-heating the seal area during the wrapping material unwinding process, the paper has a higher starting temperature, which significantly reduces the required duration of heat application by the sealing tools to the packaging in the sealing process itself. This avoids damaging the packaging and the product and allows them to pass gently through the machine. In addition, the reduced sealing time makes it possible to achieve high processing speeds of 100 m/min for paper-based packaging. 

The specific characteristics of sustainable packaging materials have also been considered in another area: Theegarten-Pactec has modified the forming shoulder for flow packs processing on the FPC5 to support the production of paper-based flow packs. Due to the materials used and the adaptations to the component’s geometry to accommodate the packaging, there is no risk of the paper crinkling or tearing during production of the flow pack.

Recyclable paper processed at high speed in double-twist wrap

Theegarten-Pactec has also addressed the issue of sustainability in relation to its high-speed EK4 machine. Capable of processing up to 2,300 products per minute, it can package hard candy in a double-twist wrap of recyclable, wax-free paper. Despite these high packaging speeds, the EK4 still processes the paper reliably and keeps pace with the processing speeds for conventional foil wraps. 

It facilitates flexible processing of wax-free paper and other innovative packaging materials, including through infinitely variable adjustment of twist gripper oscillation. The twisting angle can also be adjusted. Furthermore, different models of twist gripper are available for efficient processing of different packaging materials. The EK4 also works with exceptionally high material efficiency, which further enhances its sustainable credentials. For instance, a servo-driven wrapping material feed roller ensures that precisely the right amount of material is pulled out, thereby minimising material consumption. With the EK4, the packaging specialist demonstrates that it is possible to use recyclable, wax-free paper without compromising either performance or product protection. 

Suction-supported sealing for more environmentally friendly packaging of chocolate products

In relation to environmentally friendly mono-films, Theegarten-Pactec has developed a special process: suction-supported sealing. The idea behind this invention was inspired by the poor dead-fold characteristics of recyclable mono-materials, which means that packaging has to be closed after folding, either through sealing or using adhesives. However, such approaches risk damaging delicate chocolate products. With this in mind, Theegarten-Pactec developed a sealing station positioned immediately after the actual wrapping/packaging process. As soon as a product reaches the sealing station, the sealing tool moves to a distance of 0.5 mm to 1 mm from the product to be sealed before negative pressure is used to suck the packaging onto the sealing stamp. This process avoids direct contact between the packaging and the chocolate product during the sealing process, thereby eliminating the risk of pressure marks or other damage to the product. Active cooling of the ambient air provides additional product safety.

Markus Rustler, CEO of Theegarten-Pactec, says: “The examples above clearly demonstrate that there are many different areas in which we can take targeted action to improve sustainability. We are constantly striving to refine our machinery in the interests of both the environment and our customers. Ultimately, only by facilitating industrial processing of sustainable packaging will it be possible for such materials to become established extensively and around the world.”

Producers and brand manufacturers interested in these new technologies are invited to meet Theegarten-Pactec representatives in person and gain more detailed insights at the ProSweets Cologne trade fair from 28 January to 31 January 2024 (Hall 10.1 | Stand G020, H029).

FPH5 packs preformed chewing gum at exceptionally high speed

At the 2024 ProSweets trade fair in Cologne, Theegarten-Pactec will presenting its latest packaging solutions for the confectionery and snack industry. At Stand G020 H029 in Hall 10.1, the Dresden-based company will be showcasing, among other highlights, its FPH5 flow-wrapping machine, which will impressively demonstrate how sugar-coated chewing gum is packaged at a speed of 4,000 products/min.

ProSweets, the most important industry event for the confectionery and snack industry, will take place in Cologne from 28 to 31 January 2024. The international supplier fair bundles state-of-the-art expertise and offers solutions for all process steps, materials and challenges. Theegarten-Pactec, manufacturer of packaging machines for small-piece confectionery, is taking advantage of this platform to present its innovative, customised solutions for the confectionery and snack industry. At a shared stand with partner company MAKREV (Hall 10.1 | Stand G020 H029), Theegarten-Pactec will be presenting the FPH5 flow-wrapping machine which will be packaging preformed chewing gum at an exceptionally high speed of 4,000 products/min. 

Efficient product separation for maximum speed

The most impressive feature of the FPH5 is most definitely its high speed. An innovative product separation process achieves a packaging speed of 4,000 products/minute: A combination of a large feed plate and a separately driven inner plate is used to ensure a high degree of filling. A direct mechanical connection between the machine’s plates and infeed chain ensures a seamless transfer of the products from the plate to the infeed chain, which greatly contributes to a reliable, fast packaging process.  

Versatility in both the packaging process and the material

Another advantage of the FPH5 is its exceptional flexibility. Depending on the customer’s requirements, it can be used to allocate 2, 3 or 4 products per pack. Moreover, the changeover between the individual pack sizes can be implemented extremely quickly. All this is made possible by the simple interchangeability of the infeed chain, which is responsible for product grouping. At ProSweets, Theegarten-Pactec will be demonstrating the process with 2-piece packs. The FPH5’s cross-sealing unit is just as flexible. It doesn’t need to be changed when the pack size is changed, as it is driven by a separate servo motor, and the speed of the cross-sealing unit is stored in the recipe management system.

The FPH5 is just as flexible when it comes to processing the material as it is in the packaging process itself. Thanks to a patented preheating section, it is capable of processing even advanced, recyclable monofilms just as efficiently as conventional laminates or paper-based packaging materials – at the same high packaging speed.

Thanks to its extraordinary versatility and efficiency, the FPH5 can be used to package a wide range of products in addition to classic hard caramels, including very soft, sensitive jelly products, chocolate-coated confectionery and lollipops.

A flexible solution from MAKREV for lower production volumes: The MR7800 Multistyle

At its stand, Theegarten-Pactec will also present solutions for customers with lower production volumes for which high-performance machines such as the FPH5 are not ideally suited. For example, the MR7800 Multistyle from its partner MAKREV, which will be presented at the stand, packs chocolate products at a speed of up to 400 products/minute. This makes it especially suitable for customers who need solutions in the medium performance range. The MR7800 excels with its high flexibility: It can handle many different types of packaging, such as side twist, top twist, double twist wrap, bunch and envelope fold. Furthermore, quick format changes and changes in the type of packaging can be achieved on the machine in only 30 minutes, which reduces set-up times and effectively saves costs.

Theegarten-Pactec acquired shares in the Istanbul-based MAKREV Packaging company on 1 September 2022. MAKREV manufactures discontinuously operating chocolate, hard candy and jelly packaging machines as well as complete automation and feeding systems in the medium output range – ideally complementing Theegarten-Pactec’s product portfolio.

Sweet Connect: Digital networking for the confectionery industry

As in 2022, visitors to the exhibition stand in 2024 will again be able to explore the benefits of the Sweet Connect digitalisation platform in a specially designated area. Theegarten-Pactec founded this platform together with its partners Sollich, Chocotech and Winkler + Dünnebier. The platform, which was specially developed for the confectionery industry, bundles the partners’ resources and offers their customers an opportunity to digitally map the entire production process.

For example, it enables the uniform monitoring and management of all machines involved in the production process – regardless of the manufacturer – and is also used to monitor and control the entire confectionery production as well as maintenance, repair, optimisation and planning. 

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