Gerhard Schubert GmbH
Stars to nibble on safely packaged
The Belgian bakery specialist Destrooper-Olivier relies on Schubert’s technology when packaging his top product, the almond biscuits Almond Thins. It ensures that the wafer-thin butter biscuits are placed gently and safely in the cavities of the trays.
The company Destrooper-Olivier is one of the best-known manufacturers of Belgian bakery products worldwide. The family-owned company was looking for a packaging solution for its award-winning almond biscuits Almond Thins which, in addition to high efficiency, would ensure gentle handling of the fragile baked goods. With specially designed robotic tools in combination with advanced modular TLM technology (TLM – top loading machine), Schubert was able to quickly convince the new Belgian customer of the many benefits of its solution.
Luc and his wife Christiane Destrooper founded the Destrooper-Olivier family business in 1989, in Oostkamp, some five kilometres south of Bruges. Since then, Bert Destrooper, a second-generation family member, has taken over the management of the Destrooper-Olivier company. Apart from its own Belgian Butter brand, the company also bakes products for its own brands of major international department store chains which distribute the waffles and biscuits in more than 60 countries around the world. Today, the Belgian biscuit specialist manufactures its products in a state-of-the-art plant in an area of around 16,000 m2.
Since November 2016, the first Gerhard Schubert GmbH machine has been packaging the company’s flagship Almond Thins, part of the Belgian Butter range. This almond biscuit is considered the star among Destrooper-Olivier's products – it even received an award from selected Michelin Chefs for its excellent flavour.
Careful handling is always required
Georg Koutsogiannis, responsible for Schubert sales in the Benelux countries, had established contact with Destrooper-Olivier during the 2016 ProSweets trade fair in Cologne. Within two weeks, he was able to convince the new customer of Schubert’s ingenious concept. With his first order, the Belgian manufacturer of fine baked goods formulated a number of complex requirements for the packaging machine specialist from Crailsheim/Germany. Almond Thins, the wafer-thin butter biscuit with almond flakes, is extremely sensitive and requires correspondingly gentle handling.
Schubert project manager Georg Koutsogiannis summarizes the customer’s specific requirements as follows: “An essential requirement was a precise packaging unit, capable of handling the products with great care, and also be a top performer. The unit also had to be compact.” The available space at the Belgian production plant precisely defined the specifications for the height and length of the packaging machine.
“The compact design of our TLM packaging machine without an electrical cabinet and the installation of three F4 robots within a single frame made it possible to achieve the required high speed and precision while, at the same time, ensuring optimum accessibility,” says Georg Koutsogiannis.
This installation which consists of only four TLM sub-machines packs the biscuits in three different tray formats. Since all components for this installation come from the same supplier, optimum networking was guaranteed. The results are maximum reliability and economy, not least thanks to Schubert’s machine without an electrical cabinet. It reduces maintenance costs by providing comprehensive energy savings as well as high machine efficiency and availability.
Format change possible within 15 minutes
The customer can automate packaging tasks on the basis of an operator-friendly control in a close to trouble-free operation. Only one employee is required to operate the system. Scheduled format changes can be completed within 10 to 15 minutes.
In the first sub-machine, F3 robots take over unstacking the plastic trays from the magazine and place them on the conveyor belt for further transport to the next sub-machine. There, pick-and-place robots load the trays with the baked goods. Currently, the products are packaged in three different tray formats with three to four compartments.
The individual biscuits which arrive using the patented Schubert counterflow system are separated by a spreading belt before the scanner determines their precise position on the belt. The data from the position determined in this way are used to control nine F4 robots positioned in a single row. This ensures that the pick-and-place robots pick up the individual products precisely at the centre with a vacuum suction pad and place them gently into the tray cavities.
Destrooper-Olivier always endeavours to enter into sustained cooperation with its partners. As a result, the successful installation of the first Schubert packaging machine may be the beginning of a long-term partnership. After all, the Belgian company does not only bake hundreds of thousands of almond biscuits every day, but also dozens of other types of cookies, waffles, biscuits and petits fours for the whole world. •
Destrooper-Olivier installation. In all, nine units are deployed.
(Images: Gerhard Schubert)