For over 75 years, the world-famous herbal sweets from Ricola are produced according to the old family tradition. The recipe has changed little since then, but the variety of products already. Both the original product and the numerous flavors are based primarily on the most important ingredients, namely a mixture of 13 herbs, which are naturally grown in the Swiss mountain area. For more than four decades, Ricola has relied on the line competence of Bosch Packaging Technology for its production in the Swiss town of Laufen.
While the Swiss confectionery industry had to contend with sales declines in 2016, Ricola recorded a strong growth rate of 5.3 percent over the previous year. One of the reasons for this is the expansion abroad: In the USA, Canada and Asia, the market presence was further expanded. Certainly, the continuous investment in the Swiss location also plays a role. Ricola places value on quality, innovation and sustainability in both the choice of ingredients and the production technique. For more than 40 years, the family-owned company has been relying on Bosch for the selection of process and packaging systems, both for new machines and for retrofitting existing lines. The years of cooperation have created a creative symbiosis that pushes both sides forward.
Line competence from A to Z
Ricola uses Bosch machines on each of the eight continuous hard sugar lines. For the preparation of herbal sweets, the sugar solution is first boiled, vacuumized and flavored in the BKK 2000 continuous cooking plant. On the kneading and tempering belt BTK 2000, the sugar mass is cooled and then fed to the embossing line. The cleaning-in-place system (CIP) ensures hygienic processing of the ingredients. For liquid-filled candies, a separate extruder line with a BEK 1200 hard sugar extruder is used. The candies are shaped and stamped on embossing lines of type BPK 240 with a maximum line speed of 240 meters per minute. The embossed candies are then passed through a cooling tunnel BCK 1500 with integrated cleaning function and then packaged further. The traditional Ricola herbal sweets are wrapped in a double-twisting machine Bosch BVW 1800 after strand forming and then bagged with the vertical flow wrapper SVE 2520 AR, which fills up to 200 bags per minute. The final step is to pack the packs from the flexible Elematic 3000 wrap-around box packer, which can handle up to 20 wrap-around cartons per minute. A special feature of Ricola’s Elematic case packer is its twin feed system to maximize capacity utilization, avoid machine downtime and ensure high overall line efficiency. Ricola products are sold in a variety of packaging types and formats, so flexibility and fast format changes play a key role.
Develop tailor-made solutions
Over the years, Bosch has worked closely with Ricola to develop solutions that are perfectly adapted to the production conditions in the factory, such as the embossing of herbal sweets. Overall, Ricola has over 30 embossing inserts in use for embossing the candies. To ensure their longevity, they are usually replaced after eight hours. “But at Ricola we play it safe and change the stakes after just six hours. This is much more gentle on the material. Because the format change takes only three minutes, it’s definitely an economic decision, “says Thomas Fringeli, plant manager at Ricola.
“Ricola is on a growth course, which we are well prepared for through our cooperation with Bosch,” explains Thomas Fringeli, plant manager at Ricola. (Photo: Bosch)
In order to facilitate the handling of the inserts and to use the footprint more effectively in the factory, Ricola asked Bosch for a shelf system for the insert storage. “With more than 30 embossing missions and the associated car, it was soon cluttered and tight in the factory. Thanks to the new insert warehouse, we have much faster access to the missions and can now use the previously required space more efficiently, “says Fringeli. In addition, a maintenance agreement between Bosch and Ricola ensures that the systems are tested once or twice a year by Bosch experts. “Ricola achieves above-average and stable productivity through the preventive maintenance and servicing of machines and embossing inserts”, says Lutz Blessing, Sales Manager at Bosch.
Launched for the first time at interpack 2017, Ricola installs an Industrie 4.0 pilot solution for managing embossing operations to increase overall equipment efficiency. The solution consists of RFID tags attached to the embossing inserts, an IOT gateway and condition monitoring software from Bosch. This records, displays and saves the daily and total mileage of the embossing inserts. Thanks to the increased transparency of these production parameters, Ricola always keeps an eye on the current production performance and can plan maintenance operations much easier and more targeted in the future. In addition, machine operators receive all relevant information for the format change via the RFID tags. This not only shortens the required changeover time, but also protects against possible errors.
Symbiosis drives innovation
Ricola has a competent team of contacts at its side – both for new machinery projects and for services. The latter includes product development, spare parts ordering and delivery, regular training for operators and support for general queries. “After all these years, a partnership has emerged that you can rely on 100 percent. Both sides benefit from the cooperation: Ricola values us as a partner who meets every one of their needs. For us, cooperation is a daily impetus for continuously creating new, innovative solutions, “says Stephan Lemke, modernization manager at Bosch. Plant Manager Fringeli confirms the beneficial cooperation: “Ricola is on a growth course, which we are very well prepared for through our cooperation with Bosch. Through shared, continuous learning and rethinking, we can face the challenges of the future in a relaxed way. “
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About Bosch Packaging Technology
The Bosch Packaging Technology division, headquartered in Waiblingen near Stuttgart, is one of the leading suppliers of process and packaging technology with around 6,300 employees. At more than 30 locations in over 15 countries, highly qualified professionals develop and manufacture total solutions for the pharmaceutical, food and confectionery industries. A comprehensive service portfolio completes the offer. The worldwide service and sales network also offers customers contact persons on site