For cookie and cracker manufacturers, speed and efficiency on the packaging line are critical, especially when a company is making a variety of products, including some containing allergens. But when space is limited, and flexibility is at a minimum, any sort of stoppage at all is going to create a bottleneck on the line. This is a lesson that one New Zealand bakery knew all too well.  

Griffin’s Foods Ltd., Auckland, New Zealand, is a 150-year-old bakery that produces various types of cookies. But in the past 20 years, the company has added new products to its portfolio, including muesli crackers, nut and protein bars, and other snacks.

Adding such a broad range of products, including 11 different types of enrobed and sticky chewy bars, created an increased workload that the current packaging line wasn’t quite prepared to handle. “All the output on this line relied on equipment that has to work close to its maximum speed the majority of the time,” said Adrian Coleman, Griffin’s head of capital investments. “This causes higher wear and tear than normal, which, in turn, requires higher maintenance input. But the new line we wanted to install had the challenge of limited available space.”

Griffin’s looked for a supplier that could provide horizontal packaging equipment that could give in-line redundancy for reduced stoppage, maximize product accumulation in limited space, work at half its potential speed and fit at least three flowwrappers into the layout.

The bakery had previously worked with Cavanna, a global flowwrapper packaging technology provider with offices in Duluth, GA, for other packaging lines in its operation. “We wanted to work with a company whom we believed would support us throughout the planning process, as well as the implementation and commissioning phases of the project,” Mr. Coleman said. “Cavanna understood the Griffin’s products and factory layout, which enabled it to offer a solution for the current project requirements to assist us in improving on the issues we were having with our ever-evolving product range.”

Cavanna integrated a complete line that has a buffering and wrapping system that includes one first-in-first-out (FIFO) fan-style horizontal buffer, four Twin Slim wrapping systems and two Twin Slim row distribution systems. The first three legs take 100% of the production while the fourth remains idle, ready to pick up the slack should one of the first three stops. If two legs stop, the buffer will accumulate 11 rows per min, or a third of the production.

With the FIFO horizontal buffer, all wrapping legs can run at high recovery speeds, and the Twin Slim requires half the space — and labor — of a conventional four-leg bar line.

Because Cavanna had previously installed flowwrapper equipment for Griffin’s, training on the new system was easy for the bakery’s operations and engineering teams. “The team onsite delivered a very professional installation,” Mr. Coleman said. “Cavanna also understood our requests for sanitary design improvements at the factory acceptance trials and exceeded our expectations.”

With the new system, the bakery is able to efficiently package its wider array of products with minimal stoppage. The line can run up to 33 rows per min with up to 4 min of accumulation if all four wrapping legs — or the secondary or tertiary packaging — stops for any reason. “Having a flexible line layout enables us to keep producing product even if there is a micro — or longer — stoppage with a flowwrapper,” Mr. Coleman said.

In addition, the space in the packaging room was maximized and the personnel-to-flowwrapper ratio was streamlined, allowing Griffin’s to truly do more with less.