An intelligent conveying system as a cost-effective, compact and highly flexible feed component in biscuit packaging


The Italian Cavanna Packaging group is one of the leading specialists in the flow pack packaging segment for food and non-food products. Starting with its biscuit packaging segment, Cavanna recently made the strategic decision to equip its flow pack packaging machines with Beckhoff’s XTS intelligent transport system and EtherCAT communication technology.

Cavanna was founded in 1960 in the Italian region of Piedmont as one of the first manufacturers of electromechanical flow pack packaging machines. Over time, the family business focused on fully electronic machines and complete packaging lines: primary flow packs for individual products and product groups, secondary flow packs or packaging in boxes, and tertiary packaging on cardboard displays. Currently, there are about 6,000 Cavanna machines installed in more than 900 customers around the world.

The first application of the Cavanna XTS is a 90-degree transfer system for the packaging of biscuit cartridges. Photo: © Cavanna.

The main areas of application are the entire food and non-food sectors, especially the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. The wide spectrum of food applications ranges from uniform and mixed biscuit packages, chocolate, breakfast products and sweet and savory snacks to bread substitutes, as well as cheese, coffee capsules and frozen products. Whatever the product, Cavanna focuses on the protection of the product and the maintenance of its quality through proper packaging. The consumer should also be able to open the packaging easily. All these requirements must be taken into account in the design of flow pack packaging machines in combination with high packaging quality, machine availability and the lowest possible total cost of ownership.

Technological collaboration to optimize the design of the machines

To meet all these requirements in an optimal and innovative way, Cavanna sought a world-class technological partner. The main objective, according to Cavanna, was to improve the flexibility of the machines for product changes, while reducing their space, time requirements and cost. The company also had to meet the increasing requirements for careful and efficient handling of products, for which the Beckhoff PC-based control system provided the ideal control and drive solution. Cavanna also appreciated that Beckhoff is characterized by the same philosophy as the Italian company, with its passion for quality, technological excellence and reliability.

Technological innovation and the continuous development of the PC-based control system were especially important for Cavanna because they allow them to move forward according to the changing requirements of customers. The most outstanding example is the XTS intelligent transport system, which, in combination with the powerful EtherCAT communication, provides exceptional flexibility in transporting products in a very small space.

The cartridges are tilted 90 degrees before being handled by the XTS movers

The XTS supports new product handling capabilities

From Cavanna’s point of view, the XTS harbors a huge potential for innovation due to the high performance of its software with mostly automatic configuration capabilities and its modular and application-specific variations and geometries, all of which facilitate the implementation of a wide range of applications for the individual transport of products in combination with a continuous flow of materials. With its high energy efficiency and significantly reduced footprint, XTS offers the best possible solution in terms of cost, compactness and innovation for Cavitation packaging machines. This compact and reliable system, with individually controllable movers, opens the door to a new world of packaging applications that allows manufacturers to adapt their machines even more effectively to the needs of their customers.

According to Cavanna, high speed and precise synchronization are the goals of all advances based on the XTS. The company plans to expand the system to other application areas with the help of Beckhoff experts, who have already been instrumental in Cavanna’s continuous improvements to its current machines.

Biscuit feeding in cartridge containers

As the first application of the XTS, Cavanna has developed a new packaging system that can pack 4200 cookies, gathered in cartridges. Once again, the great flexibility of the system was a great advantage because the cookies can be round, rectangular or square in shape. In addition, the machine can pack the cookies in various flow pack formats at speeds of up to 130 packages per minute with up to 32 cookies per package.

The XTS functions as a power supply unit in this system. Two XTS movers receive the cookie cartridges from a stretch of chain after they have been rotated 90 degrees. The movers then transport the cartridges to the tubular bag for final packaging in flow packs. According to Cavanna, the main advantage of the XTS system is that all the necessary settings for switching to a new product format are stored in the control software and can be executed automatically. In this way, the XTS can be adapted to the product “on the fly”, which is a great improvement over conventional solutions based on servo motors that require extensive mechanical conversions.

Another example of the ways Cavanna uses the XTS is a system for transferring stacks of products from one stretch of chain to another with variable distances between the separators of each chain. Cavanna also uses the XTS as a distribution system to divide an incoming product flow into two flows with low cost and exceptional flexibility.