Folding cardboard boxes guarantee greater sustainability


Whether for a snack, a short break or a Sunday after-dinner, with its wide range of wafers, biscuits and cakes, the Hanover-based biscuit manufacturer Bahlsen has been providing a high-quality treat for more than 130 years. To ensure that the sweets reach the consumer intact, the company has been collaborating for years with the packaging machine manufacturer Schubert. Last spring, Bahlsen revamped the packaging of its ‘Pick Up!’ and he expanded his existing machinery with two bar packers from the company from Crailsheim. The big advantage: the applied adhesive labels that wrapped several sticks, thus forming a package, were replaced by cardboard boxes with folds.

Enjoying and betting on environmental protection are not opposite concepts for Bahlsen. Therefore, in addition to its own commitment to quality and continuous innovation, the biscuit manufacturer has also prioritized the issue of sustainability in all its activities. For example, the company works with carefully selected partners around the world who already act responsibly in the cultivation of raw materials such as cocoa or sugar. But in addition to the ingredients, the packaging of the products also plays a decisive role in sustainable action. That’s why, for ‘Pick Up!’, the popular chocolate biscuit, Bahlsen wanted a new packaging machine that would allow the switch to more environmentally friendly packaging.

Less plastic and more cardboard for the delight with chocolate cookies

So far, the bars ‘Pick Up!’they were packed in tubular bags, grouped and labelled. In order to produce in a more sustainable way, it was intended to replace this secondary packaging in the future with folding cardboard boxes. To this end, Bahlsen was looking for a new automation solution that, above all, would protect the delicate biscuit bars from damage and breakage during the packaging process. In addition, the confectionery company opted for thinner films for the tubular bags in order to achieve material savings by reducing the amount of film. Something that the updated machinery should also make possible. In addition, regardless of the requirements that the baler itself had to meet, it was necessary to take into account the special conditions of the Bahlsen plant in terms of the location of the machine: the space for production was very limited due to the numerous columns and low ceilings, so a compact and narrow design of the line was required.


The new Schubert line from Bahlsen impresses especially with its great flexibility and high performance.
The new Schubert line from Bahlsen impresses especially with its great flexibility and high performance.

Solution with two fully automated flexible bar packing machines

To overcome the numerous challenges, the Schubert company was integrated into the packaging development of the folding boxes of this project. In this way, the packaging specialist was able to optimize the new packaging in the best possible way, especially as far as the operability of the machine was concerned. For example, the flat cuts of the box were designed with slitting and grooving lines to facilitate and speed up the assembly, while the layout of the sheets was improved. As a complement to the existing production lines, Schubert finally designed for his customer a packaging system with two identical bar packaging machines that are placed one after the other, take up little space in the warehouse and can pack independently of each other in parallel.
In this way, the entire packaging process with the essential steps of forming, filling and sealing is now executed fully automatically in the system. Thanks to robotic technology and the incorporation of the Transmodul, Schubert guarantees an interface-free packaging process. The careful handling of the product together with a controlled process from start to finish, increase the efficiency of the line and minimize waste. At the same time, the manufacturer saves an impressive 112 tons of plastic per year thanks to the newly designed folding boxes and the thinner films of the tubular bags. These two aspects represent a big step towards sustainability for Bahlsen and satisfy consumers’ desire for more environmentally friendly packaging to be used.

Bahlsen saves 112 tons of plastic a year with the new packaging for its cookie bars.
Bahlsen saves 112 tons of plastic a year with the new packaging for its cookie bars.

Efficient processes in the machine: robots work side by side

With the new packaging solution, the biscuit bars already packed in tubular bags are placed in the secondary packaging in the bar packaging machines, which each consist of three machine racks. First of all, the flat sheets are fed into the line through a tank. Depending on the format, a robot extracts up to six sheets from the warehouse and transfers them to another robot that forms the cardboard boxes. The formed boxes are then placed on the Transmodul transport robot and transported to the filling station. In parallel, the bars ‘Pick Up!’they are introduced into the process through a grouping chain and pre-grouped. Then, a robot picks up several bars at the same time using a suction cup gripper and transfers them in a predefined number of units depending on the format, into the boxes, which at this point have the lid open. Then, the Transmodul moves the boxes to the last step, the sealing. There, the packages are closed with a flap pressing machine in a process specially designed for low boxes.

The bar packers place the cookie bars with extreme precision in the packaging boxes.
The bar packers place the cookie bars with extreme precision in the packaging boxes.

Double effect: the new process is both sustainable and economical

The switch to cardboard, thinner films and a new line not only improves sustainability, but is also very economical for Bahlsen. The high-performance solution can process up to 850 bars per minute. Thanks to the high working precision of the robots, which place the product with total accuracy inside the packaging, it was possible to design the new packaging boxes with a minimum size and height and, therefore, without a lot of empty space. In addition, the biscuit manufacturer can use various formats for his specialties: wraparound packaging with eight different product layouts is possible. A major format change will only be necessary when using packages with different size bases and can be carried out in as little as 20 minutes.

Bahlsen is more than satisfied with the new line. The wide range of formats and heights of boxes and the capacity of the robotic machines to process an excess capacity from the previous process of up to ten percent make the solution not only impressive for its sustainability, but also for its flexibility and efficiency. The company also appreciates the fact that Schubert has designed such a high-performance machine for such a limited location. This is also confirmed by Ulrike Arnold, Schubert’s project manager: “The design of the line has been complicated, there were many columns and low ceilings that restricted the space, and yet the result is a line that meets the high demands.”

The cookie bar 'Pick Up!'it is protected from any damage, thanks to the careful handling of the robots during the packaging process.