Cheese producer and supplier Jermi regularly supplies supermarkets with sliced cheese such as Gouda and Edam. Plastic blisters containing varying types of cheese are packaged in display cartons for this purpose. Jermi needed a new packaging line in order to make the existing production significantly more efficient. To achieve this, a special challenge in the packaging process had to be mastered: the more holes a packaged sliced cheese has, the higher the plastic blister will be. The packing heights of the blisters therefore vary constantly. Schubert developed an extremely efficient system for Jermi that successfully tackles this difficulty.
What began 120 years ago at Jermi with the production of cheese and butter for the local population has developed, over four generations, into an internationally active company with 370 employees. Still based in Laupheim-Baustetten near Ulm, Germany, Jermi produces its own processed and fresh cheese specialities, and supplies sales, gastronomy and food manufacturers in the sector.
An important part of the production is packing the plastic blisters containing the sliced cheese into cartons, which Jermi then delivers to supermarkets. Well-known varieties such as Gouda, Tilsiter, butter cheese or Edam, which are already available in blisters weighing 250g or 400g, are packed into display cartons with folding tabs on the front. Most frequently, discounters make use of these convenient package sizes. The handy cartons can be quickly placed on the store shelves so that customers can easily remove the individual blisters. In order to better meet the great demand, Jermi planned to increase production to double the output. For this purpose, an investment was to be made in a packaging system that could pack the plastic blisters fully automatically and efficiently into the secondary packaging.
However, sliced cheese types that have plenty of holes also share an unusual feature: the number of cheese slices per blister must be adjusted to ensure that the weight of goods is identical in every pack. Slices with plenty of holes require more volume at the same weight. Kanellos Tzinieris, the responsible area sales manager at Schubert, explains the repercussions, "For this reason, the deepdrawn plastic packaging varies in height. Blisters also bulge where cheese slices have plenty of holes. This means that more protective gas enters the packaging and can expand further." The result of this phenomenon at Jermi was that different quantities of packs could fit into the carton using the current system.
The specifications for a new plant were therefore clearly defined: the same number of blisters should always be packed in one carton. At the same time, the packaging output had to be increased significantly and the entire process needed to run fully automatically. Due to the technological challenges, Jermi's managing director Gerhard Jerg decided to work with Schubert for the first time.
As a solution for the variable product heights, the Schubert experts developed a special pre-grouping system in which 'pick and place' robots stack the blisters in matching cassettes on a transmodule. The plastic blisters are then placed in stacks into the trays provided and compressed during this process. A robot also pushes the blisters together again when the carton lid is inserted. This allows the space in the secondary packaging to be fully used. Moreover, this ensures that each carton contains the identical number of blisters. For Jermi, the newly developed process with the special pre-grouping provides a decisive advantage: around 10% more products can now be transported on the same space and displayed for sale. "We could put an extra layer of plastic blisters in the display carton," says Tzinieris.
Schubert equipped the packaging line with a further special feature: the TLM also inserts blisters into plastic crates instead of unmixed carton trays. They are later packed manually as mixed packages and temporarily stored in crates in the cold storage. This system also offers the flexibility Schubert machines are known for - if required, up to 13 formats can be processed.
The compact TLM packaging system developed by Schubert for Jermi consists of five sub-machines. Two transmodule sections are integrated into the system. The products are pre-grouped on one of them, and the other one transports the display cartons. While the cheese packages are being fed into the system, the cartons are removed from the magazine and erected. F4 robots pick up the cheese blisters from the infeed belt and place them into the cassettes provided on the transmodule. From there, F2 robots remove the pre-grouped cheese packages and place them in stacks in the tilted display cartons. In order to finally be able to insert the lids from above into the display cartons, a robot pushes the plastic blisters inwards from the rear wall of the cartons through two specially integrated carton cut-outs.
The important facts and figures regarding this TLM packaging system are that it:
¦ consists of five sub-machines
¦ has an output of 270 products per minute
¦ has a special pre-grouping that enables more products to be packed per packaging unit
¦ makes efficient use of secondary packaging
¦ offers optional packaging into cartons or plastic crates
¦ comes with up to 13 possible formats
¦ is transmodule in use.
Gerhard Jerg is impressed with the result. The new TLM line from Schubert, which has found its place in a specially built hall, now enables Jermi to produce in a manner that is very efficient, highperformance and flexible.