Based in Glasgow, Scotland, family owned Tunnock’s was established in 1890 and started life as a bakery. By the 1950s it had expanded into confectionery, manufacturing favourites such as Caramel Wafer Biscuits, Coconut Snowballs and Tea Cakes. The company has expanded, exporting its products to countries as far afield as Kuwait and now manufactures around 5m Caramel Wafers and 3m teacakes every week. Tunnock’s is growing its business with products shipping out to South Africa and Germany, a tough market to crack.
Over the years the business has built and developed its own packaging lines and for the company’s owner Boyd Tunnock, the focus is on quality.
“We don’t tend to do very much promotional activity,” he says. “The product goes on shelf with good quality and that’s important. For example, we use fresh milk, rather than powdered, when making our chocolate. We have to keep making top quality products.” In April 2010, the company bought its first Schubert packaging line for its Tea Cakes and followed this up with another line last year. The challenge for Tunnock’s was to automate further on the casepacking side of the operation.
For Boyd Tunnock the decision was clear: the next investment had to be from Schubert. The German packaging equipment manufacturer had impressed him with its level of service and quality of machinery. The company also wanted to automate the end of the Tea Cakes’ production line, packing the finished product into boxes and ready for shipment.
Implementation Tunnock’s opted for Schubert’s Transmodule option. The TLM system, according to Schubert, is the world’s first transport robot and was showcased at last year’s PPMA show. It offers wireless data and power transfer and is linked to the machine’s software control.
The high-speed casepacker is capable of packing 72 of the six count cartons of Tea Cakes per minute, 43 of the 10-count cartons per minute and 36 of the 12-count trays per minute.
A single stream flow of cartons or trays enter the system and are metered into the TLM grouping chain. The Tea Cakes are placed into groups of six or eight and picked up by the TLM-F2 loading robot to place them directly into the erected cases. The trays are picked from the grouping conveyor and placed into the respective display box cartons. This is repeated a further two or three times to fill the cartons. The transmodule then transfers the product to the closing and discharge station.
Open cases and cartons are transported to the closing station, by the transmodule passing the glue nozzles before the TLM-F2 robot comes down to close the cases and transfer them directly onto the discharge conveyor.
Installation took 10 days and the equipment was shipped to Tunnock’s in modules. “The chaps from Schubert came in during the weekend,” says Boyd Tunnock. “They were dedicated to getting the job done and very skilled.”
Tunnock says he has been pleased with the results so far. “The robot can handle double what we were doing previously,” he says. “We get it to do 60 boxes a minute. So far, the casepacker has been very successful. We have sourced the best and, in my view, Schubert is the best on the market that money can buy. You only get what you pay for and, with Schubert, you are getting quality.”