Global Food Company Improves Safety and Sustainability on Automated Packaging Lines

Providing the correct amount of adhesive at the right time and temperature – and to the highest level of safety – is key to productivity and operator wellbeing on automated packaging lines in Mondelēz International plants. Explore how they’ve improved safety and sustainability with InvisiPac.

A packaging engineer explains how the InvisiPac® Tank-Free™ Hot Melt System is inherently safe because it keeps operator interaction with hot materials or equipment to a minimum. His plant manager adds that the tank-free system also reduced glue consumption by 50 percent, improving profitability and sustainability.


Automated Packaging Line Safety, Savings and Sustainability

Chances are high that you have eaten a snack, food, or beverage made by Mondelēz International. After all, its portfolio contains household brands like Nabisco, Oreo, Ritz, Toblerone, and Cadbury.

Dairylea, Sottilette, El Caserio and Philadelphia cheese or snack products are packed into cardboard cartons and sleeve packs at the Mondelēz plant in Namur, Belgium. Providing the correct amount of adhesive at the right time and temperature on their automated packaging lines – and to the highest level of safety – is key to productivity and operator well-being. That is why the Mondelēz plant in Namur upgraded to the Graco InvisiPac® Tank-Free™ Hot Melt System.

Seeking a Better Hot Melt Solution

The Namur plant's tank-based hot melt system was working, but they were looking for something better. One of their glue suppliers said that Graco’s InvisiPac is extremely efficient. Discussions with Graco soon followed.

"To be honest, we were quite skeptical about the impressive claims of the Graco salesman, so before committing, we decided to conduct a six-month trial," said Phillipe Jordens, former plant manager. "The results of the trial were so impressive in terms of safety, increased profitability and reduced maintenance that we had no hesitation in purchasing InvisiPac."

Employee Safety

Mondelēz Namur also recognized the need to improve employee safety by automating their packaging line.

"Working with material at temperatures up to 390˚F (200°C) can lead to safety hazards, such as burns or toxic fumes," said Jordens. "So we were very keen to find the safest hot melt delivery system on the market."

InvisiPac is inherently safe because it keeps operator interaction with hot materials or equipment to a minimum. The operator simply fills the container with a large amount of adhesive. When the level of adhesive in the melter reaches a certain minimum, a signal is automatically sent to the feeding system, causing adhesive to be sucked from the container directly into the system – all without operator intervention.

Time and Energy Savings

A long heat-up time was a big issue with the old tank-based hot melt system at Mondelēz Namur.

"We needed to wait at least 45 minutes for the glue to be at the correct temperature to use, which was wasted, unproductive time," said Mauro Del Priore, packaging engineer. "A huge benefit of InvisiPac is that it needs only 10 minutes to heat up."

This is because InvisiPac is tank-free. Instead of melting and keeping hot melt adhesive in a large tank, only the amount that is needed is heated up and melted.

This video shows how InvisiPac's startup time competes against a tank-based hot melt system. 

Production Efficiencies

The fact that only a small amount of material is heated leads to another major advantage. It eliminates the chance of char and nozzle blockings and thus reduces the need for maintenance.

"The absence of char means we can operate InvisiPac continuously without production stoppages to clean nozzles," said Del Priore. "In fact, the only maintenance necessary is to periodically replace the filter – a very quick, simple and cheap procedure."

The InvisiPac HM25c reduces maintenance even further as it has fewer parts than its predecessor model. For example, only one air regulator controls the whole system, and the heated melter is machined from one part. The drip tray is more robust, and the new funnel air filter is more dust and oil tolerant and longer lasting. All these improvements make InvisiPac virtually maintenance-free.

50% Less Glue Usage

Another objective of Mondelēz Namur was to increase profitability of the packaging lines.

"At the end of the trial we calculated that we had reduced our glue consumption by 50 percent," said Jordens. "That is a highly significant material and cost saving."

The cost savings came at no expense to quality. He added, "Our cardboard boxes work as effectively as before. We have not received a single customer complaint related to the adhesive."

The plant manager estimated a further reduction in glue consumption of 20 percent. This is because InvisiPac helps you use exactly what you need, where you need it. It measures the right amount of glue to be used, controls a consistent bead, and tracks your usage grams per case

Safe, Happy Operators

Today, 16 InvisiPac units are operating on 11 packaging lines at Mondelēz Namur. The automated packaging line operators say that they are happy with InvisiPac. The Tank-Free hot melt system is so safe that they don’t have to wear PPE. They don’t waste time filling or cleaning a tank. And the automatic system is easy to use.

"The operators find the user interface very straightforward," said Del Priore. "What’s more, it enables them to receive alerts when material usage is out of range, as well as performance notifications on their lines. So it helps them do their work better."

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