New Tool: ProSource
Checkout our packaging and processing solutions finder, ProSource.
Start Your Search

Flow wrapper, feeder speed chocolate production

Charitable chocolate producer installs a new horizontal flow wrapper with six-belt feeding system to more than triple output, simplify cleaning and maintenance, and reduce waste.

Pw 74574 Endangered Beauty

Endangered Species Chocolate doesn’t measure success just by dollar signs. As evidenced by its name, the premium chocolate company, headquartered in Indianapolis, donates 10% of its net profits to species and habitat conservation efforts. Its ethical trade criteria ensure that its premium cacao comes from farm cooperatives that foster community development and provide humane working conditions and fair wages for all cacao farmers. In addition, the company carefully sources only the highest-quality organic and all-natural ingredients from farmers that practice sustainable farming. As a result, Endangered Species prides itself on being a successful business that puts fewer chemicals into the earth, protects rainforests, and provides solid jobs.

The result is delicious and ethically produced chocolate that has quickly grown in popularity and has allowed the company to experience tremendous growth. Recently, more and more consumers were craving its 0.35-oz organic chocolate squares, known as Chimp Mints and Bug Bites, to the point where demand began to outpace production. To address this increased demand, Endangered Species reached out to Bosch Packaging Technology for an automated solution that more than tripled output.

From 120 to 400 pieces/min
Since it launched its first products in 1993, Endangered Species has relied on Bosch’s Doboy Stratus, an entry-level, compact horizontal flow wrapper, to package its Chimp Mints and Bug Bites. The machine allowed the company to rapidly extend its distribution reach, which now covers the U.S. and Canada.

Since going national in 2005, the company has more than tripled in size. To meet increasing demand, Endangered Species worked closely with its local Bosch agent, Keith Goodhart of RPMI Packaging, Inc., to upgrade to Bosch’s Pack 401 horizontal flow wrapper integrated with a Pack Feeder 4 six-belt feeder, a system capable of automated product transfer and simplified cleaning and maintenance.

While the previous solution required that the chocolate squares be manually transferred from their molds to the primary packaging machine, the Pack Feeder 4 directs the chocolates from the mold line to the horizontal flow wrapper without human intervention. This speeds up production and decreases operator requirements from six to one, which allows the company to redirect labor to higher skilled positions.

The Pack 401 runs at film speeds to 262 ft/min and features self-centering film reel holders that enable easy and quick film changeover. The machine automatically tracks and aligns the film to create consistent package quality and seals for the chocolates. Additionally, two spindles automatically splice film rolls with integrated cutting knives, allowing Endangered Species to run a full eight-hour shift with little to no downtime.

As a result, the automated solution accelerated production from 120 pieces/min to 400/min, with the potential for output levels to 550/min. “The Pack 401 wraps our products faster than we can currently produce them,” says Bryan Fuller, Director of Operations for Endangered Species. “This positions us for our anticipated growth over the next few years.”

The Bosch flow wrapper ensures that the tiles are correctly oriented before being wrapped, which decreases inadequately packaged products. The previous solution necessitated that defective packaging be manually sorted and discarded. The Pack 401 features sensors that automatically detect and reject inadequate products and packaging—such as empty packages, uncut packages, or packages with film splices—which increases efficiency and saves labor costs.

“Our conservation mission is the core of our organization, and we fully trust that Bosch’s technology will produce results,” says Fuller. “Higher profits and reduced waste mean more donations to our not-for-profit partners.”

Endangered Species also sought a machine with simplified cleaning and maintenance to ensure product safety and remove all traces of allergy-causing ingredients, which is especially important when producing different products on the same machine. “The Pack 401 is an expertly planned machine. Every section is easy to access and clean,” explains Fuller. Crumb trays on the feeder can be removed and emptied during production, and all belts and deck plates can quickly be removed without tools, making cleaning fast and easy.

Sustainability benefits
Not only does the Pack 401 generate higher profits that increase donations to the company’s charitable causes, but it also achieves additional sustainability benefits. When the products were manually transferred to the wrapper, the tiles had to be placed on FDA-approved cardboard sheets and then topped with FDA-approved foam to be stacked without damaging the chocolates. The machine’s automated feeder eliminates the need for these materials, which cuts down on the waste and on the fuel needed to ship the materials to landfills.

Endangered Species also uses packaging materials that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-approved, with paper wrappers constructed of recycled content and printed with environmentally friendly water-based inks. Sustainability is ingrained in the entire company, from sourcing raw materials to incorporating the most environmentally friendly processing and packaging practices available.

“We always enjoy helping our customers reach their production goals, and it’s even sweeter when this also benefits important causes,” says Paul Garms, Product Manager, Bosch Packaging Technology.

“I’ve wanted this machine for a very long time because Bosch understands our organization and packaging like none other,” says Fuller. “When demand grew to the point of needing increased efficiency, it was an easy decision to make, and we’ll likely acquire a second Pack 401 soon.”

See video of the system at pwgo.to/1205.

Test Your Smarts
Take Packaging World's sustainability quiz to prove your knowledge!
Take Quiz
Test Your Smarts
Discover Our Content Hub
Access Packaging World's free educational content library!
Unlock Learning Here
Discover Our Content Hub