InlineCan - the perfect Packaging for Tobacco
Hands-on insight at JTI – the InlineCan proves to be the ideal Tobacco Packaging
Tobacco is one of the oldest, popular and versatile cultivated crops. Already known to the indigenous people of the Americas as a medicinal plant, tobacco started its success story as a stimulant in the 15th century. Dried it serves as a basis for different products: fine cut, chewing, pipe and snuff tobacco, and the most popular product – the cigarette. Cigarettes are still the most popular tobacco product in Germany.
The tobacco market is fast moving. Packaging trends are constantly changing and manufacturers have to react in a timely manner to consumer requirements. This also applies to JTI, which is one of the world’s leading tobacco product manufacturers. The facility in Trier manufactures tobacco products for the German market but also for export. JTI was looking for a machine manufacturer who was able to provide a packaging solution for a square tobacco can. Besides market trends, the TPD 2 – tobacco guidelines contributed to the switch from the round packaging solution to the square carton the “InlineCan” (more about the InlineCan: see info box). The EU-wide regulation is in effect since 2016 and regulates that 95 percent of the product package have to contain warning messages. According to Martin Feilen, this was one of the reasons for the change from the round carton package to the square InlineCan – it allowed for more advertising space and less warning references on the can. Hörauf, the carton-manufacturing expert, introduced JTI to Optima Consumer. In order to provide the InlineCan packaging solution, Hörauf and Optima Consumer worked together closely.
The InlineCan reduces 40 truckloads to one
The coordinated approach of Optima and Hörauf made sense to JTI according to Martin Feilen. The most relevant requirement for the package was air tightness. “Tobacco is a very sensitive product, that has to stay fresh”, explained Martin Feilen. Tobacco loses its moisture during storage and therefore, a moisture barrier is a key factor. The InlineCan has an additional advantage for JTI – it is less expensive. Regular cans are up to six or seven times more expensive than the InlineCan. In addition, no transport costs occur since the carton can is directly manufactured in the production facility. Traffic at the factory premises is significantly less: instead of 40 trucks, only one truck is needed to deliver the paper rolls for manufacturing the InlineCans. The storage space that was needed for the former cans can now be used for other purposes.
Induction versus thermal: the sealing as a decisive advantageSince May 2017, JTI is gaining experience with the two OPTIMA CFS machines that fill the Inline Cans with Make-Your-Own (MYO) tobacco and closes them. This was the perfect time for the Optima editorial staff to check: how satisfied is JTI and why is the OPTIMA CFS the perfect solution for the company?
Martin Feilen emphasized the induction sealing: “The membrane is the key factor for the freshness of the tobacco.” If the membrane is damaged, the tobacco loses moisture. The inductive seal ensures that the cans are correctly sealed. An additional benefit of this process is that only the film is heated and not the product. Ulrich Burkart, Sales Director Food Solutions at Optima Consumer added: “the challenge of inductive sealing is the need for absolute tightness and the requirement to remove the film in one piece without any remnants.” Only Optima was able to offer this extremely high tightness said Martin Feilen. Induction sealing requires less cleaning time and rarely leads to downtimes compared to thermal sealing.
The machines run in a three-shift operation, six days a week. The installation was completed within four weeks without any problems. “The Optima service technicians knew what they were doing,” said Martin Feilen.
Due to the modular design, the packaging machine is flexible and JTI is able to react quickly to new market requirements. For example, leaflets can be inserted or moisture-containing sponges can be glued to the inside of the closure. Martin Feilen praises the machine in addition for its easy accessibility that makes the cleaning simple and benefits the work ergonomics during repair work.
The machines achieve a 97 percent efficiencyVery positive is the output of the machine for Martin Feilen: 150 products per minute leave the machine, independent on the format size. The machine efficiency reaches 97 percent. The JTI specifications were far exceeded. The reject rate is also less than required by JTI with 0.3 percent. Format changes are completed without tools within ten minutes since the InlineCans are only different in height, but the footprint is the same. An additional advantage resulting from the quick format change overs is it permits tests and small batch production.
What about cleaning and hygiene? To fulfill the hygienic requirement the Optima engineers made sure that the machine does not have any cavities. “The cleaning and cleanliness of the machine is very important. This was an emphasis during the design phase”, said Martin Feilen. An anti-static puck cleaning ensures cleanliness during the return transport and avoids product contamination.
Quality and production security were key factors
In addition, a well-coordinated project management from both sides was very important since JTI was the general contractor and had to rely on its suppliers. This was very well structured through several design reviews at Optima. Martin Feilen commends the cooperation as a “showcase management project”. Due to a constant communication, new ideas were implemented immediately.
“JTI is very particular and expects the highest quality”
Martin Feilen, Project Manager at JTI in Trier
Preventive maintenance will be an important subjectIn the future JTI will place great importance on line management and the digital interaction, reported Martin Feilen. Maintenance, service and support are becoming increasingly important to the company since the storage of expensive spare parts such as components for control units is problematic. More than once the parts didn’t work when they were needed.
This confirms that Optima is on the right track with its Life Cycle Management Optima Total Care (as reported in the o-com special edition Total Care). It fulfills the high requirements for a lifelong service of packaging machines, as described by Martin Feilen. With WEmaintain and TCAP Optima Total Care offers a system for a cycle based, as well as a condition based maintenance.
Based on this overall positive experience JTI decided to buy two additional OPTIMA CFS machines. “In close cooperation with Optima and Hörauf we developed a solution and we want to continue on this path,” so Martin Feilen. The story of the successful duo is far from over.