Adhesive Dispensing Systems

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Nordson Deutschland GmbH Visits Bremer Hachez Chocolade GmbH & Co. KG

31 May 2017

Bremen, Germany

*Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Neue Verpackung. To read the original, click here.

Perfect gluing of six-corner boxes

Customers have sought out the fine chocolate products of Hachez for 127 years. Founded in 1890 by Joseph Emile Hachez in Bremen, the company is known as the sole German producer in the high-quality segment. All steps of the production process, from cleaning and roasting of the raw beans to forming the chocolate, are combined in the company's own facility. Of course this also includes the final packaging, consisting of numerous systems that are continually being modernized. One of these systems was recently upgraded with the innovative ProBlue Liberty 14 tankless hot melt application system from Nordson.

Premium cacao exclusively is processed in the Hachez Chocolade GmbH & Co. KG plant, which has about 250 employees and was acquired in 2012 by confectionery group Toms Gruppen A/S with headquarters in Copenhagen. Chocolate at this quality level accounts for only about 2.5 percent of the worldwide harvest and is obtained mainly from Ecuador, also in smaller quantities from Venezuela, Papua New Guinea and São Tomé. The Danish acquisition also included Feodora, a brand with a long tradition whose location in Tangermünde was moved to the Hachez production site after the Second World War. Some varieties of the Toms Anthon Berg assortment are also produced in Bremen, a historic Hanseatic city on the Weser river in Northwest Germany.

Five days of the week—or six, depending on the season—a total of five production lines and 13 packaging lines run in three-shift operation. Their configurations consist of systems from many different machine manufacturers. The sizes and geometries of the sales boxes and final packaging boxes are just as diverse. Especially interesting from a visual perspective are the six-corner boxes with 165, 225 or 300 gram content, filled with various types of chocolate bars.

The first of those variants, which first became available a few years ago, was a frequent source of difficulties in the past due to the somewhat complicated gluing process. The high rejection rate, up to a considerable 15 percent in some cases, was problematic because it was not possible to adjust the hot melt applicators optimally. Because of this, the company decided to upgrade the relevant carton erector with a modern ProBlue Liberty hot melt adhesive application system combined with special applicators.

Rotating modules

These are the dispensing applicators of the Nordson PatternPro series, which have a rotary disk design as a special feature. They are equipped with two MiniBlue type modules, in this case air opening/air closing, which can be rotated steplessly through 360 degrees. The spot dimension from nozzle tip to nozzle tip is 50 mm. This flexible approach ensures problem-free gluing of the carton blank with the body of the box formed first with the aid of short beads. To do this, six short beads are applied by three heads.

The carton erector, which can achieve an output of 30 cycles per minute, is designed with two lanes. Therefore two times three applicators are installed in series with a total of twelve modules. This means that two formats can be processed simultaneously on this machine. The dual lane design is not currently used in production, however, because the capacity of the downstream cover sealer limits the line speed. In this separate station, the packaging – after being filled by a multi-head weigher – has two strips applied to it for final gluing. A conventional ProBlue 4 melter is used for gluing the top flap.

No conventional tank system required

The innovative ProBlue Liberty series features significant technical differences in comparison to the ProBlue series, which has proven itself over many years, especially in terms of energy efficiency, adhesive quality and working safety. The model 14 is used on the line that is described here. In keeping with Nordson's type identification, it has a melting capacity of 14 kg per hour.

The most significant feature of the new technology is the absence of a previously standard tank system. The key element is the high-performance melt section which, unlike familiar tank devices, prepares only the amount of adhesive that is actually required. It works essentially like an instantaneous water heater, producing considerably higher melting capacity and a smaller device size.

This makes it possible to reduce energy consumption significantly because melting only what is actually required results in significantly shorter heating up and flow-through times. According to details provided by the manufacturer, intervals can be reduced from as much as 90 to about 30 minutes, depending on the utilisation level of the system.

Greater availability and enhanced work safety

In addition to energy savings, another significant advantage of the ProBlue Liberty system is its enclosed nature. Granulate is supplied automatically by means of a pump that works based on the Venturi principle from either a 120 or 240 liter storage container. An integrated sensor monitors the fill level in the melter and reports when adhesive is required.

This configuration makes it possible to achieve significantly greater machine availability, because the impurities affecting the hot melt quality and the effect of dirt, dust and other accumulations are largely ruled out. For example there are many fewer problems with cracking and clogged nozzles. When used in combination with a high-quality hot melt adhesive, it is also possible to significantly reduce adhesive consumption.

Another important aspect is increased work safety. Because hot melt is now supplied automatically instead of manually, the risk of burn injuries – unavoidable with conventional tank devices – is completely eliminated. Overfilling and spilling of the adhesive are also eliminated.

Significant improvements

Matthias Demuth, an experienced practitioner who has been with the company for many years, is responsible for the mechanical department at Hachez. He is extremely pleased with the modernization of adhesive technology. "The rejection rate since the upgrade has been practically zero. The rotating modules, which by the way Nordson is the only provider to include in its product range, have proven to be very efficient. We also have considerably fewer malfunctions due to clogged nozzles and therefore fewer machine stoppages, so that maintenance and repair costs have also been significantly reduced."

He emphasises that the availability of the line has risen from 65 percent previously to over 80 percent. Matthias Demuth also has praise for the increased work safety ensured by the tankless, automatically refillable adhesive application system, referring to the energy savings achieved by melting only what is needed: "We don't have specific figures in this regard yet, but we are conducting precise energy measurements in cooperation with Nordson. It is already becoming apparent, however, that significant savings can be achieved through the use of the ProBlue Liberty devices."

He does not exclude the possibility of modernizing additional systems. As a faithful Nordson customer for many years, Hachez uses numerous devices from the US adhesive specialist with European headquarters in Erkrath, Germany. In the past year, for example, an additional machine had already been upgraded with a ProBlue Liberty 7, the second, smaller model in the series.