Small muesli, nut or cereal bars are energy suppliers at their best. According to Statista, in 2020, 1.9 million people aged 14 and over in Germany resorted to the muesli bar as a quick snack several times a week. Further growth is also forecast for the coming years. Reason enough for Somic to develop the high-performance Somic SSL 800 machine for this segment.
High performance in production is necessary if you want to serve this growing market – not only in the production of the sticky and nutty products but also in the subsequent packaging. Only a reliable process that is as continuous as possible can ensure high product quality in terms of taste and shelf life as well as a perfectly shaped appearance on the shelf. As a manufacturer of end-of-line packaging machines, Somic forms the last link in the chain of the production and packaging process and has now taken up the high-performance idea with its new bar machine.
The Somic SSL 800 packs 800 bars in 120 cartons per minute. It provides the perfect complement to high-performance flowpack packaging machines with output rates of 600 to 800 products per minute. “The products in the flowpack should be processed gently, and the carton packaging must optimally match the product and appearance,” Sales Manager Stefan Julinek explains. “It must be possible to produce a high-quality carton with the defined number of bars with reproducible quality”.
The products arriving from the form fill and seal machine can be fed directly into the Somic machine without a long buffer section and even with changing product distances. The collection system of the Somic SSL 800 thus also allows a remote set-up from the flowpacker. Within hundredths of a second – barely perceptible to the naked eye – the alignment unit positions the products in such a way that they are transferred to the carrier fan chain in neat order and grouping.
A two-axis robot with a suitable gripper head and vacuum suction technology picks up the predefined product grouping and places it gently into the flat unfolded cartons. Up to eight cartons are ready in the loading module, close together, without the usual gaps for the folding flaps. This creates the necessary performance for high performance operation.
“Part of our philosophy is that we fundamentally look at sustainability in every solution,” Mr Julinek states. This applies to all machines in the portfolio and also to the SSL 800. “We naturally ask ourselves what recommendation we can give the customer to make his operation the best possible. We always look at the overall concept.”
Instead of a high-performance line, one could – according to Mr Julinek – of course rely on individual machines with distribution diverters to distribute the product flow to several machines. However, losses in the efficiency of the line are inevitable – which is certainly not in line with the sustainability demands of many food producers. The more complex the line, the greater the number of product manipulations and the greater the potential efficiency losses.
In terms of overall energy consumption, it is also cheaper to run one high-performance machine than several smaller systems in parallel. Beyond this general aspect, other features show how intensively the designers take the idea of sustainability into account.
The motion sequences during the folding and packaging process are particularly important. The linear axes – manufactured in-house – are of lightweight construction. This saves drive power and energy during the acceleration processes. This concept is complemented by intelligent control and servo technology: by coupling the drives, the energy released during deceleration is used for the acceleration process of other motors. In this way, the machine consumes very little energy during operation.
Another example of sustainability in the operation of the high-performance machine is glue consumption. Of course, the control of the glue nozzles has to keep up with the high machine speed. With a cycle time of less than 2 ms, the glue application can be applied precisely even at a very high speed. This keeps glue consumption at an extremely low level. “Especially when it comes to consumables, the idea of sustainability is important,” Mr Julinek notes.
In addition to the conservation of resources, user-friendliness also counts towards sustainability in machine operation. Ergonomics is the keyword here. The different machine areas are easily accessible. This means that the necessary format parts can be exchanged quickly when changing formats. Of course, the weight of the change parts is also important: the heaviest part during a format change usually weighs no more than 5 kg. The format parts can be easily released and locked again after replacement. This is achieved with the Somic Quick-Change technology familiar from all machine types.
“We have designed many elements in our classic machine range to be as practical as possible”, Mr Julinek emphasizes. “The operator must feel safe with our technology – and this applies not only to speed in the work process, but also to ergonomics and machine safety”.
Strict standards were set for the quadruple magazine in the high-performance machine. Are all areas easily accessible? What working heights are comfortable? How quickly can the magazine be filled? These are all questions that were once again rigorously addressed during the design process for the high-performance range.
For intuitive, coherent information on the work steps during machine operation, the proven concept from the previous machine series is used. All information is available in the customer’s national language. If additional languages are required, this is not a problem. Additional languages can be added as an option.
According to Somic’s philosophy, all possibilities must be seized in order to ensure resource-saving production processes in the food industry in the long term. This does not only happen when the customer explicitly asks for sustainable solutions. Rather, Somic sees sustainability as a key discipline that is considered overall in machine development – without any ifs and buts.