Lindt & Sprüngli applies the principle: No product should be out of stock. To ensure permanent availability the plant in Aachen, Germany therefore focuses on custom-made and automated labelling technology and services by Herma. Photo: Herma
After Easter is before Christmas
Around the middle of the year hardly any consumers would think of Christmas, which inevitably always arrives far too quickly – understandable when temperatures exceed 30°C and the longing for cool ice cream is stronger than the yearning for chocolate that softly melts in your mouth. However, the confectionary industry and the associated packaging sector have long started preparing their production for advent and the festive season.
To make sure the wrapped Santa Clauses make it under the Christmas tree in time both highest machine availability and high-performance labelling technology is called for. Availability of merchandise is a make-or-break issue for one of the world’s biggest chocolate producers, Lindt & Sprüngli. The company therefore focuses on both automated processes with custom robots in part and high-output labelling technology at its plant in Aachen. Also of special importance to the Swiss chocolate producers is a comprehensive service concept with quick response times and defined maintenance intervals.
Labelling 140 units per minute presupposes sophisticated process engineering. Photo: Herma
When Easter Bunny & Santa Claus are on Holiday
During the short summer break – i.e. when the Easter Bunny is allowed to go on holiday with Santa Claus for two to three weeks – the labelling machines are completely overhauled. This job is done in cooperation with Herma, the specialists in self-adhesive technology that have been in charge of labelling at the Aachen Lindt plant for more than 30 years now. Around Easter time several technicians from both plants are on site doing visual inspections of the devices – clamping and pressure rollers and peeling blades are extensively checked and any required spares are ordered and installed to ensure smooth operation.
Packaged perfectly: Lindt & Sprüngli makes high demands on packaging and process logistics. Photo: Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli GmbH
Knowledge Transfer and Service in the Age of Industry 4.0
Each label has to be in the perfect place – on some lines this is ensured by up to three high-performance labellers: one for the price label, one for the closure and one for the advertising label. Furthermore, online support is part and parcel of corporate services in times of Industry 4.0. Know-how should not be proprietary but shared in such a way that the local operator at the factory can remedy minor incidents himself or is provided with instructions and support online for addressing certain issues.
A Quantum Leap in Technology
To the Operations Technology Manager at Lindt & Sprüngli in Aachen, Dirck Ley, the possibilities of Industry 4.0 are only the beginning. He wants labelling machines to issue messages on maintenance requirements automatically in future – online and via networks – and to re-order any required spares via the connected SAP system. He refers to this as ‘Maintenance 4.0’ and his idea is not too remote from what cutting-edge labelling machines will be able to deliver in terms of flexibility, operator-friendliness and connectivity in future.