Canadian cereal brand maximizes packaging efficiency with Elematic 3001 WA case packer from Syntegon Technology

The demand for healthy, organic cereal-based products is on the rise, with revenue in Canada for breakfast cereals alone expected to reach 1.2 billion US dollars by 2021. Consequently, manufacturers need to expand their production capacities and equipment. The Vancouver-based cereal and superfood manufacturer Nature’s Path offers consumers high quality, organic and planet-friendly products whilst demonstrating that packaging need not cost the earth. In order to reduce material waste and boost production efficiency, the company reached out to Bosch Packaging Technology, now Syntegon Technology.

Nature’s Path Foods, Inc. offers premium, organic and sustainable products to customers all over the world. The company cares about the health of its customers and the planet, which is why the company is committed to promoting sustainable practices in the food industry. Nature’s Path was one of the first companies to sign onto the Food Trade Sustainability Leadership Association’s Declaration of Sustainability. By upgrading their case packing equipment with a solution from Syntegon Technology, Nature’s Path managed to significantly reduce cardboard consumption while also boosting production efficiency.

On the path to sustainability

Founded in 1985, the company has adjusted to a number of developments in the retail industry, including the recent   trend                 towards  wholesale warehouse clubs and supercenters. These retail outlets offer larger package sizes for customers who want to bulk buy staple ingredients and stock their pantries. In order to meet this demand for wholesale products, Nature’s Path decided to offer their products in large stand-up bags and folding cartons of up to 1.25kg. For their corn flakes, granola and crunchy cereals weighing between 325g and 1.25kg they began to look for more flexible options.

Whilst market factors and consumer trends certainly influence company processes, they are not the only driver. “Every decision we make must align with our triple bottom line – being socially responsible, environmentally sustainable, and financially viable. In 2010, we became zero-waste certified and pledged to become completely carbon neutral by 2020. This step consequently entailed looking at the environmental impact of our packaging. As a result, we strive to use our packaging material as efficiently and effectively as possible, and Bosch Packaging Technology has been a reliable partner throughout this journey,” Nikhil Mehrotra, Packaging Engineer at Nature’s Path explains. Nature’s Path has been working with Bosch Packaging Technology, now Syntegon Technology, for a number of years, starting with a complete packaging line for cereal bars in Blaine, Washington in 2012. Over the years, the company has expanded their production capacities in order to accommodate their growing 100 percent organic product range, including cereals, oatmeal and granola.

Wrap-around case packer with exceptional format flexibility

Nature’s Path started looking for highly flexible case packing solutions for their production sites in Sussex, Wisconsin and Blaine, Washington that would address a very specific challenge: Packaging such delicate products into large, household-size packs. This can be tricky in terms of filling level, bag roundness and form stability. The packaging experts examined these particular needs in great detail and proposed the Elematic 3001 WA wrap-around case packer for medium and large sizes for the production site in Sussex. The machine cartons 325g- and 1kg-boxes of Crunch, Hemp Plus Granola and Corn Flakes. The site in Blaine also needed a new cartoning solution for boxes of cereal bars, so Nature’s Path purchased the Elematic 3000 WAH for hooded wrap-around cases. Syntegon Technology also suggested the Elematic 3000 WAH XXL case packer to carton the 225g- and 650g-stand-up bags of the Qi’a superfood breakfast cereal at Nature’s Path’s production site in Sussex, Wisconsin. These case packers are ideal for shelf- and retail- ready products that are transported, stored and displayed in large cases, such as corrugated display bins placed at the end of supermarket aisles. The machines offer maximum flexibility as they can handle up to 35 different formats, pack styles and product sizes.

Significant material and cost savings

Nature’s Path’s processing and packaging lines for cereals comprise a number of machines for filling and cartoning stand-up bags. As the last machine in the line, Syntegon Technology’s Elematic case packers collate the packaged products into corrugated cases. The Elematic forms and fills 20 cases per minute via the lowerator principle, which stands out for its gentle handling and compact case packing. In order to make sure the Elematic 3001 WA would integrate well into the existing production line, Bosch Packaging experts at the packaging design center in Remshalden, Germany worked closely with Nature’s Path to find a tailored solution for their packaging needs. “The team proposed a case packing solution that offers us high production speeds, maximum flexibility and an improved user experience. In doing so, they have helped us become more sustainable. We managed to reduce our need for corrugated case material by up to 15 percent, which translated into substantial cost reductions as well as a significant contribution to our environmental mission,” Mehrotra explains.

Easy machine access for efficient format changes

The Elematic 3001 WA was designed with usability in mind. Loading blanks into the machine is hassle- free and back-friendly due to the ergonomically-designed low blank magazine. The case packer’s open and easy-access framework offers another user-friendly advantage: it not only boosts visibility throughout the cartoning process, but also enables operators to quickly clean and adjust the machine. Thanks to the Elematic Click System, which is a standard feature on the Elematic 3001 series, format changes are tool- free and completely reproducible. A clearly audible clicking noise indicates to operators when the parts have successfully locked into place. This eliminates the need for adjustments and minimizes errors, while helping Nature’s Path to reduce scheduled downtimes. Format changeovers can be performed in approximately eight minutes – depending on the grouping pattern. The machine also features an external hotmelt granulate container and an HMI intuitive control panel which enables operators to program format selection, position, speed, timing and glue position.

Successful partnership

The long-lasting relationship between Bosch Packaging, now Syntegon Technology, and Nature’s Path is built on trust. “Having worked together for so long, we have established very close ties, despite the distance and time differences,” Mehrotra explains. “With Jeff Downer we have a trusted contact person on the ground. Throughout the project, we truly felt that Bosch Packaging was there for us. For any further questions or issues, we knew we could reach out to the comprehensive customer services via their hub in Raleigh, North Carolina. The team took our specific needs into account and really valued our feedback.”