Mission Retrofit accomplished

MISSION RETROFIT ACCOMPLISHED

How do you ensure dairy industry filling systems are ready for the future? Maier Packaging has been answering this question since 1985. In a project at Zott, the company from Bergen am Chiemsee has proven its know-how for retrofitting pre-existing forming, filling and closing systems.
Maier Packaging has been a full subsidiary of the Optima Group from Schwaebisch Hall since July 2018. Since 1985, the company has been increasing the efficiency of pre-existing forming, filling and closing systems in the dairy industry, as well as building components for these systems and providing product development support.
The challenge
One of Europe's largest dairies, the Genuss-Molkerei Zott, headquartered in Mertingen, Bavaria, sells its products in more than 75 countries. The family company's most well-known products include Monte, Sahnejoghurt, Jogobella, Primo and Zottarella. Because of the lengthy shipping distances involved, increased demands are placed on the packaging of the internationally sold dessert product Monte. The resulting requirements had to be implemented.
After implementing a number of optimization measures that provided improvements, at least in the short term, Zott decided to carry out ageneral overhaul in order to significantly improve performance. Monte is filled for example in an aseptic forming, filling and closing system that has been used for many years. The single or double-layer Monte dessert is produced in six-piece containers weighing 55 grams each and fourpiece containers weighing 100 grams each. Maier Packaging has now converted this filling system.
The system first unwinds a plastic sheet from a roll which is thoroughly heated by means of contact heating plates. The cups are then thermoformed from the heated sheets. Each cycle simultaneously forms 60 cups. Afterwards they are filled, closed and punched out. The project was particularly challenging because the conversion needed to be carried out on site at Zott, and cause the shortest possible interruptions of production operations. After all, these systems are among the most heavily used at Zott.
"What we needed was an agile, flexible partner with its own in-house production systems who could react quickly to design adjustments," says Martin Lechner, Project and Process Engineer of Production Weiß, who managed the conversion project on behalf of Zott. This is why Zott sought out Maier Packaging, a company that specializes in exactly these type of retrofit projects.
Zott Monte
Genuss-Molkerei Zott's most wellknown dairy products include Monte, Sahnejoghurt, Jogobella, Primo and Zottarella. This is the 100 gram version of Monte MAXI. (Source: Zott)
Four steps to success
To increase the quality of the products and cups, both systems need to be upgraded to the latest state of the art technology. The focal points included converting the drives from hydraulic to safer servo technology, overhauling the heating plate configuration to optimize cup sheet heating prior to the thermoforming process, as well as optimizing the forming air, pre-stretcher, forming station, draw frame and station control. Another important aspect was of course to increase output and energy efficiency. The extensive conversion project was carried out in four steps and implemented in only nine months. These phases each lasted around two to three weeks, including production support. "First we replaced the control cabinets and integrated servo drives," explains Alexander Breier, who managed the project at Maier Packaging. "The fact that we had no drawings at all and had to first design the systems was particularly challenging," says Breier. The conversion also had to be carried out on site and within a very short time frame. In the second step, Maier's experts renewed the heating plates, changed their positioning and installed servo drives. The forming station and the pre-stretcher were also retrofitted with a servo drive. In addition, an optimized forming air inlet valve was installed. In the third conversion phase, additional servo drives replaced the three-phase drives of the filling pumps, including the lever and cam mechanism. In the fourth step, the sealing station, die cutter, station rejection and draw frame were rebuilt.
Improvements resulting from the system conversion
Martin Lechner of Zott summarizes the most important improvements resulting from the system conversion. These include better product and cup quality, improved process sequences, higher output and efficiency, more accurate and faster dispensing, lower noise levels, easy maintenance, lower energy consumption, lower costs for spare parts and storage, cost savings compared to the purchase of a new system.

MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC
MAIER Packaging GmbH is a fully-owned subsidiary of the OPTIMA packaging group GmbH. Maier Packaging produces components for filling and production systems in the dairy and food industry. Therefore, Maier has a particularly close partnership with Optima Consumer. The company also specializes in converting and optimizing current forming, filling and closing machines. Its customers are mainly from the dairy and food industry. Founded in 1985 by Stefan Maier, the company currently employs 44 people at its site in Bergen am Chiemsee. The Managing Director at Maier Packaging is Alban Hutter.
Product and cup quality enhanced
In addition, the system's output has also experienced a ten percent increase in performance, Martin Lechner is pleased to report. However, with these types of projects, you cannot expect everything to run smoothly at all times. "Thanks to their extensive expertise, Maier Packaging always provided us with shrewd advice and pointed out constructive changes and let us know what effects they may have. We greatly appreciate this transparent, cooperative and honest approach," says Martin Lechner. Maier Packaging was very responsive, he added, since the company has its own in-house design and production systems. The contact partners were easy to reach at all times, which also added value. "Together we have found the right solution for every challenge, even though we sometimes had heated discussions beforehand," says Lechner with a laugh.
Martin Lechner
"Thanks to their extensive expertise,
Maier Packaging always provided uswith shrewd advice
and pointed out constructive changes and let us know
what effects they may have."


Martin Lechner, Project and Process Engineer of Production Weiß, Zott SE & Co. KG
"Thanks to their extensive expertise, Maier Packaging always provided uswith shrewd advice and pointed out constructive changes and let us know what effects they may have."

Martin Lechner, Project and Process Engineer of Production Weiß, Zott SE & Co. KG
Responsive partner
In addition, the system's output has also experienced a ten percent increase in performance, Martin Lechner is pleased to report. However, with these types of projects, you cannot expect everything to run smoothly at all times. "Thanks to their extensive expertise, Maier Packaging always provided us with shrewd advice and pointed out constructive changes and let us know what effects they may have. We greatly appreciate this transparent, cooperative and honest approach," says Martin Lechner. Maier Packaging was very responsive, he added, since the company has its own in-house design and production systems. The contact partners were easy to reach at all times, which also added value. "Together we have found the right solution for every challenge, even though we sometimes had heated discussions beforehand," says Lechner with a laugh.
Guided tour of the Weiß Production
Martin Lechner (left), Project and Process Engineer of Production Weiß at Zott, explains which technical parameters have been improved by the retrofit.
Information
IMPORTANT FOR YOU
• Maier Packaging from Bergen am Chiemsee specializes in the conversion of forming, filling and closing systems and has its own in-house design and production facilities.

• With around 3,000 employees, a consolidated net group turnover of nearly 1 billion euros and 890 million kg of dairy processing conducted in 2019 alone, the Genuss-Molkerei Zott is one of Europe's largest dairies.

• The challenge: to retrofit the filling machine and bring it up to the current state of the art level without causing major interruptions in operation

• The solution: a four-stage conversion program created by Maier Packaging

• In around nine months Maier Packaging brought the Zott forming, filling and closing system up to the latest state of the art.

• The advantages: better product and cup quality, improved processes, higher output and efficiency, more accurate and faster dispensing, lower noise levels, easy maintenance, lower energy consumption, lower spare parts and storage costs, cost savings compared to buying a new system.

This report has been published in the O-COM Magazin Consumer / Nonwovens 11 | 2020

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