Keeping flour dust at bay with dust-tight packaging.

Roland Mills United switches to dust-tight flour packaging with Syntegon

The Roland Mills United milling group has opted for a new line solution from Syntegon consisting of the Package Maker PME 4081 BS and the case packer Elematic 3001 WAH.

Consumers regularly stumble across this situation in the supermarket: when they reach for the flour packaging. Fine flour dust already covers the pallet and inevitably finds its way into the shopping bag, the car trunk, and ultimately the kitchen. The only remedy is dust-tight packaging. Keeping this in mind, the Roland Mills United milling group has therefore opted for a new line solution from Syntegon that packs flour in high-quality, sustainable and, above all, dust-tight packaging.

According to Matthias Karrenbauer, head of production and technology at Roland Mills United, dust-tight flour packaging offers advantages that are worth the investment. “This packaging offers particularly high quality and is, therefore, ideally suited for the premium retail sector – a promising market segment for us.” 

Roland Mills United is one of the leading grain mills in Europe. Spread across three locations in Germany, the family-owned company processes more than one million tons of flour per year.

Future-proof packaging line on limited space

The 14 time-controlled nozzles of the ZAP-Module from Syntegon apply the sealing medium to no more than three areas: the bottom of the packaging, the top, and the vertical seam. The rest of the material remains untreated so that the packaging still allows moisture exchange and contributes to the flour’s extended shelf life.

When the company decided to replace one of the packaging machines in Recklinghausen after 40 years of use, the requirements for the new filling machine were high. “Our goal was to find a future-proof line solution that combines sustainable primary and secondary packaging. However, this was no easy task, as the line had to fit a limited space. Out of all competitors, Syntegon provided us with the best technical solution and made us feel comfortable. We opted for their Package Maker PME 4081 BS and Elematic 3001 WAH case packer to package our dust-tight flour packs into high-quality cardboard trays.”

Sustainable packaging thanks to innovative sealing technology

With conventional flour packaging, paper is glued, formed into a bag, and then simply folded for closure after filling. As the glue dries quickly, the bag forming process must be completed within a few seconds before its adhesive properties deteriorate.

Dust-tight flour packaging, which requires significantly less sealing medium, eliminates this challenge. In the PME 4081 BS package maker from Syntegon, an innovative ZAP module carries out the first production steps. First, a roll feeds uncoated paper into the ZAP module. Within the module, 14 time-controlled nozzles apply the sealing medium to no more than three areas: the bottom of the packaging, the top, and the vertical seam. The rest of the material remains untreated so that the packaging still allows moisture exchange and contributes to the flour’s extended shelf life. 

Dust-tight flour packaging offers particularly high quality and requires significantly less sealing medium than conventional flour packaging. The packaging material has a fiber content of over 95 percent and can conveniently be recycled as mono-material through the paper waste stream.

As the sealing medium is only applied selectively, the packaging material has a fiber content of over 95 percent and can conveniently be recycled as mono-material through the paper waste stream. Moreover, this method eliminates time pressure, as the sealing medium dries immediately after application and is only thermally reactivated later in the process. The PME 4081 BS folds the bags using a mandrel wheel before two auger fillers with integrated dust suction stations fill each bag individually in two steps to reduce dusting. 

Afterwards, the filled flour bags are shaken on the closing chain by means of vibration for about ten seconds to make sure the flour is fully compressed. Finally, thermal sealing jaws seal the bags to create robust, dust-tight, and compact flour packages.

Maximum performance with 97 percent machine effectiveness

The Package Maker PME 4081 BS packages around 80 tons of flour per day in two shifts. Its innovative sealing method contributes significantly to the machine’s efficiency: following machine downtimes, e.g. due to a paper roll change, empty or filled flour bags can still be sealed without interruption. The sealing medium is heated and activated by the sealing jaws during the process. In contrast, the adhesive of conventionally glued packaging hardens during downtimes, which means all bags in the machine need to be discarded. 

The Clean 90 concept provides further efficiency benefits during operation: its bag conveyor belt is inclined by 45 degrees, so that flour does not trickle into and contaminate the equipment in case an already filled bag tears. Instead, the flour is caught in the collecting chute on the outside of the machine. 

“Our solution reduces downtimes to a minimum,” says Uwe Pfander, senior sales manager at Syntegon. “With the exception of short interruptions for cleaning and paper changes, the machine runs continuously, achieving an effectiveness of 97 percent. Comparable solutions from our competitors often only reach a maximum of 75%.”

Flexibility when it comes to paper suppliers

Besides the high machine availability, the experts at Roland Mills United are also impressed with its packaging flexibility. “Thanks to extensive test runs, we knew that we could process paper from various suppliers on the machine. This gives us an important competitive advantage,” explains Karrenbauer. “When the Ukraine crisis started, supermarkets ran out of flour – but not because there was a lack of product. Manufacturers simply ran out of paper for packaging. At the time, we were one of the last milling companies who were able to supply their customers, as we had enough packaging materials from different manufacturers in stock. Therefore, it was important for us not to depend on a single supplier for our new machine, but to be able to use different packaging materials in the future – one of the benefits delivered by Syntegon’s Package Maker.”

“These paper tests also proved valuable for us, as we could now confirm that our ZAP module is compatible with paper from several suppliers – not just in theory, but also on the machine,” says Pfander. “By testing the materials in our Pack Lab in Waiblingen, we were able to examine the exact properties and dimensions of the papers and provide Roland Mills with a comprehensive documentation. Additionally, we gave recommendations for precise machine adjustments and parameters to ensure an optimal performance of the PME.”

High-quality primary and secondary packaging

Roland Mills United not only drew valuable conclusions from the paper tests in terms of machine compatibility. The test runs also helped to improve the quality of the final packaging. The results showed that the packaging material is peelable, which is why Roland Mills added a grip end to the flour bag for additional convenience. Consumers can now open the packaging without scissors.

For Roland Mills United, it was clear from the very beginning that the products’ secondary packaging had to match the primary packaging in quality. “We want to offer our dust-tight flour bags in premium retail, which is why we invested in a Syntegon case packer that packages them in a sustainable display carton. This allows us to achieve a high-quality look that attracts the consumers’ attention at the point of sale and highlights our brands,” explains Karrenbauer. The Elematic 3001 WAH from Syntegon packs 100 flour packs per minute – and is particularly sustainable thanks to minimal use of adhesives. When folding the display cartons, the adhesive is only applied selectively so that the secondary packaging can easily be disposed of in the paper waste.

Working in a partnership of equals

“We are very happy with the outcome of this collaboration,” Karrenbauer continues. “Both Mr. Pfander and I have been in our businesses for a long time. Our discussions were always productive and allowed us to make good progress. Typically, milling machines can operate for up to 40 years. With equipment from Syntegon, we are confident that we have chosen a future-proof solution that will produce high-quality products for decades to come.”


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