Something up my sleeve

Juustoportti, a Finnish producer of dairy products, was looking for a solution to enter new retail markets. When the company decided to introduce sleeve packed cups of yogurt and cottage cheese into its range of formats, the dairy company was seeking a partner to realise this new solution. Gerhard Schubert, which has extensive experience with this kind of application, provided a customised machine concept that allows for the flexible packaging of various formats and pack sizes.

Seeking a solution

Over the past 50 years, family run Juustoportti has evolved from a small cheese farm into a company with more than 150 employees and an annual turnover of approximately €40 million. Over time, the company’s traditional Finnish cheese selection was complemented by a range of dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese, which are successfully positioned under its own brand as well as under customer brands at retail. The production technology at the company’s site in Jalasjärvi in western Finland is one of the most modern in the country and is part of a consistent product development strategy which also encompasses extensive investments.

When Juustoportti recently received an inquiry from a major retail customer to pack yogurt in two and four packs, the company was sure it would be able to meet these customer requirements. Previously, it had packed yogurt and quark cups of varying diameters in standard cartons each containing 10 cups. Juustoportti now had to find a machine solution which would also be able to package cups in paper sleeves, along with its current packaging applications.

Close collaboration

The first contact between Juustoportti and Gerhard Schubert took place in 2014 at the Anuga FoodTec show in Cologne, Germany. The owner of dairy giant Timo Keski-Kasari described the packaging challenge to be solved. Schubert then developed a detailed concept with various proposals and invited the customer to Crailsheim, Germany.

Following a reference visit to the Alois Müller dairy company – a long standing Schubert customer – Timo Keski-Kasari was sure he had found the right partner with Schubert. Finally, those responsible opted for a TLM packaging line consisting of three modules. The key components of the system developed for the Finnish customer are the F2 robots in combination with the F3 presentation units and two Transmodul lines. This combination ensures high flexibility on a small footprint.

Packaging process

The packaging process begins with the supply of the cups in a row on a conveyor belt. By means of a grouping chain, these are pre-grouped in clusters of eight cups. During the infeed, a camera check ensures that cups without covers are rejected.

In the first module, a TLM-F3 robot automatically removes the sleeves from the magazine and transfers them to the erecting robot. This F2 robot positions the open sleeves in a holding device on a Transmodul which carries the sleeves to the next sub machine. Simultaneously, the clustered cups are conveyed to the loading station.

In the next sub machine, an F2 robot picks the clustered cups and places them in the sleeves. These are closed in the third module, and then placed into cartons in five sleeve packs before they exit the machine. Since the system packs the cups in sleeves and then immediately puts them in the trays, the Schubert system requires significantly fewer interfaces than similar solutions. The customer benefits from higher efficiency of the packaging process.

Another special feature of this project was to place the cups in cartons of 10. The cups had to be positioned in the cartons so that they would not slip during transport. The Schubert solution folds the bottom carton so that the individual cups are fixed on four sides. This solution is quite unique on the market and was proposed to the customer by Schubert’s packaging development team.

During the final system inspection and approval in Crailsheim, the customer was delighted with the performance of the machine and the quality of the closed sleeves. The new solution will enable Juustoportti to maintain its strong market position at retail.

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Food and Drink Technology