Upgrade improves throughput, accuracy and quality
The company found it needed to move a line that packed 100, 250 and 400 g tins in its factory in Laufen, Switzerland, due to expansion of other activities in the factory. Ricola used the opportunity to upgrade the line, asking Ishida to develop a solution that would improve quality by reducing the level of product chipping and breakage.
Original Ricola herb drops weigh 4.2 g each and contain a special blend of 14 herbal extracts, including marshmallow, peppermint, thyme and sage. Each lozenge is cut from a warm filament, leaving two ridged surfaces which, on cooling, present many brittle facets. While this method gives each lozenge its distinctive appearance, the pieces are easily damaged by collision with other lozenges or metal surfaces.
On the new line, product arrives via a conveyor, which is equipped with a suction system to remove dust and debris. It then runs via an elevator to the top of the 12-head Ishida weigher.
The multihead weigher is designed with short drop distances, while the discharge chute is divided into sections to minimise product swirling and reduce collisions. The weighed product passes via timing hoppers and chutes to a special filling station, where the tins arrive on a carousel to be filled two at a time. They then move on for lidding and overprinting with batch data.
The new line packs 100 g tins at 140 packs/min, 250 g tins at 110 packs/min and 400 g tins at 90 packs/min. Ricola says this represents an increase in throughput of 20% across all packing formats. At the same time, the accuracy of the weigher means product giveaway is very low: just 1.5 g (or less than one third of the weight of a single lozenge) for the 250 g tins, for example.
The upgrade also addressed cleaning downtime. The new line complies with IP66 standards, enabling it to be conveniently hosed down rather than individual parts having to be removed for cleaning. A feature unique to Ishida products makes this possible: a positive pressure maintained in the body of the weigher renders it watertight.
Ricola says it has experienced a sharp decrease in breakage debris and more ‘perfect’ lozenges per tin than ever before. Daniel Bhend, the company’s technical and engineering manager, says the investment in the new packing line has been “a success in every respect”.
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