Swedish Kalles Kaviar: From empty tube to filled box
Text and image: Bo Wallteg, Nord emballage
One thousand tubes per minute: this is the output of Norden Machinerys fastest tube filling machine – an incredible speed used by mostly in toothpaste manufacturing. In most cases, though, the required speeds are lower than this. One example is Orkla-owned Abba in Kungshamn, Sweden. At this site, Abba has recently installed a new tube filling machine for the iconic Swedish Kalles kaviar brand. Here the speed is 140 tubes per minute. Nord Emballage took a closer look at the installation.
Örjan Nilsson, Abba’s Development Engineer, greets us at the company’s entrance, where changing to protective clothing is mandatory if you want to move into the production area. The smell of fish products rests heavily in the premises. At the Kungshamn site, packing takes place not only in tubes, but also in other types of packaging. Tubes as packaging for food are quite unique to Sweden, and packaging in aluminum tubes, such as for Kalles Caviar, is something that is otherwise most associated with the pharmaceutical industry in the global market.
“We have five tube fillers here in Kungshamn, all from Norden Machinery,” explains Örjan Nilsson. They are faithful work horses with a very long life. The tube filler we installed recently replaced one that was thirty years old. It worked really well, but some peripherals, such as electric and control cabinets, had begun to falter as a result of the humid environment.
“We are very satisfied with the Norden machines, so there was no reason to look elsewhere for a replacement. In addition, it is a brand our staff trusts and knows.”
Work on bringing in the new machines started in 2017 and was ready at the end of last year. Nilsson concluded that it was a good move to replace everything.
Machine for filling famous Kalles Caviar
The Sales Manager at Norden Machinery has been coordinating the project.
“It is obviously impressive that a Norden machine packed Kalles Caviar tubes for so long, but it quickly became clear that an upgrade was needed with a new control system and a higher degree of automation. We started a discussion with Abba to develop an optimal solution. Most of the products we produce are tailor-made to the customer's needs, so it is important to have the right input when the construction is started. It must be perfect,” explains Norden Area Sales Manager for Scandinavia.
“We had a construction time of about one year and an important factor has been future-proofing the machine. You may want to be able to deliver tubes standing instead of lying in a box, or, in the future, you may want to fill plastic tubes instead of aluminum ones. Because of this, we have made sure to leave open the possibility of adding equipment in the future that will allow for other types of tube sealing. It is important that we do not paint the customer in a corner. It should be as flexible as possible.”
The machine is called NM2003 and is linked to an NTP, a designation that stands for Norden Tray Packer. The tray erector comes from Swedish Spitze, with which Norden Machinery works closely. The maximum speed is two hundred tubes per minute but how fast you go depends on what needs to be filled. With Kalles Caviar, the optimal speed is one hundred and forty tubes per minute. Two different sizes, 300 grams and 190 grams, are both filled at the same speed. Two robots from ABB are included in the set up, and the speed is the same as for the machine that was replaced.
“This is a relatively large machine for a company in Scandinavia and at this speed it has required robot packing for the tube’s infeed and for placing the tubes in boxes,” he explains. “If we talk about speeds of around 50 tubes per minute, this usually means manual packing. Robots from ABB are the only ones we work with right now – we have good synergies with them.”
Replacing the old machine took about a month, including dismantling the old one. Once in place, it was important that everything worked according to plan. Therefore, it was installed and tested at the Kalmar factory before delivery, and all settings were in place when mounted. According to Norden Area Sales Manager, great emphasis was been placed on hygiene, so the cleaning is simple.
Facilitates for staff
Örjan Nilsson notes that while new installations will always entail some modifications and fine adjustments the change of machine has been more or less pain-free.
“The new machine makes it easier for the staff compared with the previous generation. Now it's a pick and place robot that takes the tubes out of a carton and lifts it into the filling section. Previously, this was manual work,” explains Nilsson. “The other robot lifts the filled tubes and places them in the cardboard boxes. However, two operators are still required, just as before.” The machine goes in one shift and then has time to fill between 60 000 and 70 000 tubes.
“We now have a state-of-the-art machine with greater safety where we can run tubes in diameters of 40, 45, and 50 millimeters in different lengths. This is an advantage and allows it to offload any of the other machines where we fill, for example, mackerel. Our two smallest machines fill tubes that only hold 12 or 25 grams which, for example, are found in hotels.”
The tubes are mostly from Tectubes in Hjo, and the corrugated cardboard is delivered from SmurfitKappa.
Norden Machinery has markets worldwide. “We are without a doubt global leader in this market. We have been developing this type of machinery since 1934 and over the years we have sold and installed eight thousand machines on the world market, so we are really specialized. There are other manufacturers, but none that only make tube fillers.
We build around one hundred and fifty machines a year and we are doing well. One advantage of operating worldwide is that when there is a decline in one market, there are other markets growing stronger. Currently we see that Unites States and Japan are strong markets.”
Norden Machinery is part of the Coesia group.
Text and image: Bo Wallteg, Nord emballage