Schubert Robotics creates the perfect packaging for functional drinks as their popularity grows globally
Functional drinks are becoming increasingly popular around the world, especially in Asia, where they are already an integral part of many consumers’ everyday lives. Manufacturers such as TCI from Taiwan rely on elegant product design and sophisticated packaging that conveys the high quality of these functional feel-good drinks to the outside world. For the urgently needed expansion of automation in production, TCI opted for a flexible and compact packaging line from Schubert. This is the first time that an absolutely break-proof, new type of packaging for the sensitive products is being used, which TCI developed together with Schubert.
Health and well-being for discerning buyers: Functional drinks are intended to support consumers in their health-conscious lifestyle. A forerunner among the manufacturers is TCI from Taiwan. TCI Co, Ltd. was founded in 1980 and today employs over 1,000 people worldwide. In collaboration with customers and partners, the company has developed many products over the past decades that are sold successfully all over the world. At its site in Pingtung, Taiwan, TCI produces not only functional drinks but also a variety of preparation forms for solid active pharmaceutical ingredients (powders, capsules and tablets) as well as high-quality face masks. The products are available in over 50 countries worldwide
The company ranks among the leading international ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) contract manufacturers for liquid collagen products and cosmetic serums, backed up by scientifically supported findings on the maximum effectiveness of individual ingredients and the use of appropriate, patented formulations. The production facility comprises three production halls on a total area of 33,000 square metres. Due to its continued success, the company is currently investing extensively in the high-quality automation of its production.
Schubert’s flexible, compact line concept delivers convincing performance
TCI’s focus was on the highest quality and outstanding process speed of the automated production line. In addition to the greatest possible flexibility of the new line, the company also stipulated that the products be handled very gently, i.e. that the refined glass surfaces not be scratched or otherwise damaged during the packaging process. Additionally, the packaging had to be absolutely break-proof for shipping. The choice finally fell on a highly flexible TLM system from world market leader Gerhard Schubert GmbH, which impressed the Taiwanese company with its exceptionally compact and modular system concept. The project was awarded to Schubert Robotics (Shanghai), the new Schubert site in Shanghai, China.
High product protection required
The functions of the new Schubert line comprise erecting the cartons, inserting plastic trays (below and above the bottles), pre-grouping the bottles, and filling and closing the cartons. The packer does all of this in a very compact space and with very high efficiency. The use of the Schubert Transmodul transport robot ensures especially high flexibility of the entire TLM system. Transmoduls can be loaded with a wide variety of different products using individually manufactured format attachments, so that a wide range of different formats can be packed on one and the same machine. The system is also characterised by the reliable, sensitive and gentle handling of the fragile glass bottles and sophisticated packaging by the robots used.
When the products are finally delivered, however, the conditions in Asia can quickly become harsher. TCI therefore paid special attention to the entire area of logistics: Traditionally, cartons in Asia are often transported to the truck in a human chain. During this process there is a danger that individual boxes can be dropped to the ground – risking damage to the high-quality packaging and the products filled in glass bottles. This is why TCI, together with Schubert, designed special trays that ensure maximum break resistance. The system specialist was also involved in the development of other packaging for TCI’s functional drinks.
Horizontal instead of vertical packaging
The new Schubert line at TCI currently packs two different bottle sizes (50 and 750 millilitres) with ultimate flexibility. These are configured in three different packaging formats with eight, ten or twelve small bottles per packaging unit and one 750-ml bottle per carton. For the 50 millilitre bottles, the packer achieves an output of 400 units per minute, and for the 750 millilitre bottles, 100 units per minute. The smaller bottles are grouped upright in special trays and fixed with an upper tray. Together with the trays, the bottles are then securely placed into a carton. A vertical packaging process was originally planned for the large bottles. “However, this simply did not fit in with the planned packaging,” explains Bernd Göhringer, General Manager of Schubert Robotics. “That’s how we came up with the idea of packaging the bottles horizontally.” Plastic trays developed by Schubert are also used for these bottles. They consist of two halves and are positioned in the carton from below and above. This effectively protects the fragile glass bottles from damage. Individually manufactured tools and state-of-the-art robot technology ensure that the on-trend products are handled gently even during the packaging process to prevent scratches or other damage.
Well-equipped for the future
In addition to these achievements, it was the especially compact layout and high availability of the packaging machine that convinced TCI. The TLM system can easily be adapted to future applications: “It was of special importance to us that we could easily use the machine to pack other formats and other products in the future,” explains Vincent Lin, CEO of TCI. Flexibility plays a vital role for the manufacturer, as products have to be packed in a variety of ways for different brands. Another positive aspect was the streamlined appearance of the Schubert line: “The high-quality design of the machine is of paramount importance to us, because we want to communicate our high-quality standards to our customers,” highlights Lin. By investing in this innovative TLM line, Schubert enables its TCI customer to achieve a significantly more efficient packaging process. Moreover, the ODM contract manufacturer is now well positioned to acquire further orders and further increase sales. The successful project in Taiwan is the second order for Schubert Robotics since its foundation at the end of 2018.
FACTS & FIGURES
- Newly developed, break-resistant packaging for glass bottles
- 8, 10 or 12 small 50 ml bottles per unit,
- one 750 ml bottle per carton
- Output of 400 units per minute for 50 ml bottles
- Output of 100 units per minute for 750 ml bottles
- High flexibility for future formats
- Transmodul in use
TCI – Functional foods for a healthy lifestyle
Probiotic food supplements and cosmetics, functional food, collagens – this is the world of TCI. Today, the Taiwanese company has over 1,000 employees and continues to grow. Founder William Yang sees supporting his customers’ quest for health and beauty as a key mission. The iF Design Award, which TCI was awarded in 2015, also bears witness to the fact that the supplier not only focuses on high-quality products, but also on attractive, functional packaging.
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