I love chocolate, especially handy-sized bars for when I'm out and about. Mind you, they're pretty short-lived with me – I buy one, rip open the packaging, eat it and start planning the next one.
But how is chocolate actually packaged? Is some sort of special foil used to pack them? A glance at the candy section in a supermarket shows that there are lots of different types of packaging. The confectionery industry moves very fast and is always on the lookout for new solutions and innovative technical concepts, especially for packaging materials.
The German company LoeschPack is one of the international leaders in this sector. It designs and manufactures confectionery packaging machines. One of LoeschPack's specialities is a range of high-performance fold wrapping machines for various sizes of chocolate bar and napolitains.
These include the LRM/2-G-S, which is a compact, twin-lane fold wrapping machine providing high performance for packing enrobed and shaped small chocolate bars, napolitains and similar products – in other words, all the things I love – in one or two layers of wrapping materials. The machine is powerful – it can pack up to 1000 products per minute. Even I couldn't keep up with that! The LRM/2-G-S is really flexible too – it can pack chocolate bars in one or two layers of packing material, work with different materials simultaneously, and fold them in different ways.
Alongside roll packaging machines for round-shaped chocolate products, the company also provides combination machines that pack single products and load them into cartons ready for shipping.
LoeschPack uses Rockwell Automation's GuardLogix® system to control the machines. The GuardLogix® 1756 safety controllers have dual-processor architecture suited to SIL 3 PLe applications. They also offer integrated control together with a unified development environment for all control applications. “With two separate systems, there's always the disadvantage that we'd need to implement data transfer between the safety controller and the standard controller in order to show data on the display panel,” says Bernd Dürr, Electrical Engineering Manager at LoeschPack. “We don't need to do that with GuardLogix®, so it saves us time and effort. The GuardLogix® safety system is also easy to use and analysing errors is much simpler too, which facilitates programming.”
The GuardLogix® systems also support CIP Safety via EtherNet/IP. The various automation components and machines in a production line communicate with each other via Ethernet and the safety control signals are also transmitted over the standard Ethernet connection.
To facilitate machine operation, LoeschPack uses Rockwell Automation's PanelView™ Plus. With its recipe management function, the operator can quickly make settings for the desired formats using the graphical interface. “The high level of efficiency and availability of our machines and production lines gives our international customers a low total cost of ownership together with excellent packaging quality,” says Dürr. “This isn't only due to quick format changeovers and setup times,” he adds. “We're always working hard to reduce packaging material offcuts to a minimum and to lower energy and compressed air consumption even further.”
If you're interested in the product itself, lots of cities have a chocolate museum – such as those in Cologne, Germany or in London. If you would like to read more about the food, beverage or confectionery industry, here are some case studies.
Who'd have thought it? Packing a chocolate bar is quite a complex process. I'll have to think of that the next time I get a craving for one.