The Sweeter Side
Swiss chocolatier counts on technology specialists to make production a real treat
Back in 2017, Gerhard Schubert GmbH was commissioned by Swiss confectionery specialist Chocolat Frey AG to upgrade a TLM machine that had been originally installed in 2002.
Future sustainability, i.e. assurance that the necessary components and spare parts would also be available in the future, was extremely important to the customer.
Further key aspects of the pilot project were the improvement of occupational safety as well as a control system that would ensure state-of-the-art and ideally networked operation.
Switzerland is known the world over as the home of irresistible chocolate. And the chocolatiers from the highly respected Chocolat Frey AG have been crafting delectable treats with cocoa since the 19th century.
An uncompromising focus on exceptional quality has always been the cornerstone for the sweet success of the current market leader in Swiss chocolate.
This applies to the raw materials used, as well as the processes and processing machines involved.
Since Chocolat Frey first invested in a Schubert TLM packaging line back in 2002, the machine has reliably grouped and packed various types of chocolate bars into cartons.
So that production could be secured over the long term, the chocolatier requested that Schubert upgrade the machine in line with the latest technological standards.
As a result of this process, the machine was amended to fulfill all current occupational safety requirements and now features state-of-the-art control technology.
Schubert’s activities also ensure that all necessary components and spare parts can be supplied for years to come.
Chocolat Frey has been working together with Schubert since the early 1980s, when Schubert delivered a case packer for chocolate bars in 1982, which was later replaced by Schubert’s first TLM system for packing chocolate bars in shelf-ready cartons in 2002.
After more than 15 years of successful operation, it was time to bring the machine up to date.
“I’ve known of Schubert for a very long time, back to the days when I worked in other companies within Migros,” explains Marcel Bieri, technical director at Chocolat Frey.
“That’s why I was convinced that Schubert could reliably and quickly handle the requirements of our demanding challenge.”
An extensive upgrade now ensures future sustainability.
Following the analysis, it was confirmed that an upgrade of the TLM machine incorporating the most advanced control technology would be possible.
Following a planning phase lasting several weeks, the conversion was carried out at the customer’s site.
The pilot project was a complete success for both the customer and for Schubert.
“We were able to demonstrate that the mechanisms on the older machine were compatible with a new control system– and also that this is a cost-effective solution,” explains René Gollmitzer, electrical engineer at Schubert, who drew on this project as the topic of his graduate thesis in electrical engineering.
“The most important part was to determine which assemblies could be reused in an upgrade.”
Other mechanical components and the function of the machine remained unaffected and were to be reused after the upgrade as they had been before.
The deployment of as many standard modules as possible was a prerequisite for fast and cost-effective implementation.
At the control level, the same approaches were followed for the reprogramming of the packaging machine control system.
Customer service is one of the cornerstones of Schubert’s corporate philosophy.
Schubert guarantees a long-term and sustainable investment through various packages with different services.
With the possibility of a complete control and safety upgrade of a machine, the range of services offered to customers is further expanded. In addition to remote maintenance options, this also includes measures such as predictive maintenance, spare parts service and expansion.
Especially with older machine generations, the spare parts issue can become a challenge.
Suppliers may remove certain components from the product range or older assemblies may no longer be produced due to technical innovations.
This also affects the VMS modules of older generations, for example.
“Due to the lack of components from suppliers, the old models of the control system can no longer be remanufactured. With the upgrade, the latest VMS technology was installed. This means that spare parts availability for the future can now also be ensured,” explains Klaus Pelzer, team leader service expert center at Schubert.
Apart from the control system, the upgrade focused on improving safety aspects. The guarding already present on the machine was extended and adapted to meet current safety legislation. Contactless safety door sensors further improve occupational safety – if the contact is not closed, the system cannot be started.
As a result of these measures, machine operators at Chocolat Frey are safer than ever before.
The full modification and the upgrade were completed within five weeks.
The combination of new control and safety technology with the old mechanics resulted in a machine with state-of-the-art electrical engineering.
These measures proved to be cost-effective for Chocolat Frey as the company benefited from considerable cost savings of around 370,000 euros, compared to buying a new machine.
This successful result was also reflected in positive feedback received during and after the modifications.
Nevertheless, or precisely because of the successful upgrade, Chocolat Frey is already planning to purchase a new TLM system in the near future.
A long-term and secure investment, as this project proves.