In its timeless pursuit of the perfect tea-drinking experience, Twinings turned to long-time machine manufacturing partner IMA to build a new production line for its reinvented tea bag and packaging. In only eight months, IMA and automation partner B&R equipped the new machines with the intelligence and flexibility Twinings will need to achieve Industry 4.0 production.
Delivering great flavor to consumers around the world, Twinings has been a driving force in the increasing popularity of healthy teas. Tea bag design has been a key factor in this success, and in the spirit of innovation, Twinings is always looking for new ways to delight tea connoisseurs.
With its new packaging concept, Twinings now delivers an improved consumer experience with better carton opening and closing and an innovative new single teabag format that will help drive differentiation among tea products. Consumer research has confirmed that the new packaging design and teabag format have met their mark – with strong scores on both flavor and freshness.
The relaunch also represents a major investment in the Twinings UK production facility, calling on the latest technology to support their relentless drive for excellence in product quality and customer service. As it embarked on the development of a new production line that would reinvent the heatseal teabag – a cornerstone of UK tea culture for decades – Twinings was delighted that it could rely on its long – established relationship with machine manufacturer IMA.
The right partner for innovation
Years of collaboration had proven IMA’s dedication to quality and service, as well as its impressive ability to challenge the status quo of process engineering, overcome traditional constraints of established technologies and embrace the art of the possible.
“Many suppliers are content simply bringing variations of decades-old technology to market,” says Ian Kavanagh, head of supply operations UK&I at Twinings, “which is why a partner like IMA is so incredibly important to our organization. They are curious, open to new possibilities and willing to invest the resources necessary to turn theory into applied benefits. Collaboration with research institutions and innovative suppliers enables them to unlock fresh-thinking solutions to design constraints.”
Excited about where emerging technologies like those implemented by IMA can take their operations, Twinings believes that cyber-physical systems will play a key role in achieving their full potential.
These intelligent solutions will guide them in focusing resources where they can have the most impact and vastly improve their ability to translate data into valuable information.
As the first new C59 machines enter production, Kavanagh notes that Twinings is very impressed with the support and expertise that IMA has brought to this latest joint development journey – and excited about the possibilities that lay ahead in their more technologically- advanced future.
The right technology to meet the challenge
When the schedule for a product launch is set in stone, development targets must be met 100% in order for the project to be a success. The strict and binding timeline required by Twinings for this launch was the primary challenge that drove development of the new C59 machine right from the start.
IMA has accumulated considerable experience applying cutting-edge R&D in the development of new machines, while the cooperation and expertise of reliable suppliers has also played an undeniable role in the company’s success. For this challenging project, IMA decided to single-source the automation to B&R. As the first comprehensive collaboration between the two companies, the strict timeline posed a calculated risk – but, with the right mix of courage and trust, it certainly paid off.
“B&R has supplied us with PC and I/O systems for many years,” says Sauro Rivola, automation manager at IMA, “and we’ve always appreciated their performance and reliability.” It was those qualities that led IMA to select B&R for the development of the new Twinings machine. “With the compact dimensions and significant use of electrical axes that had been specified,” adds Rivola, “B&R’s fully integrated control system – including the motion platform and Automation Studio development environment – made a huge difference.”
The binding timeline with the end customer had a substantial impact on development strategy. One way that IMA met this challenge was with B&R’s ready-to-use software modules. Furthermore, the excellent support of B&R personnel and advanced simulation features directly in Automation Studio allowed critical parts of the machine to be accurately sized early in the conceptual design phase.
B&R’s drive-integrated safety technology and single-cable hybrid motor connectors helped IMA considerably reduce the time required for wiring and obtain CAT3 (EN 13849-1) certification for safety applications as specified by Twinings. Finally, the use of an energy recovery system helped achieve a significant reduction in both energy consumption and heat dispersion in the electrical cabinet.
Right the first time with simulation
Simulation of the dynamic behavior of the entire IMA system, including drives and loads, allowed each mechanical component to be precisely dimensioned to optimize the relationship between inertia and resistance to breakage. The ability to complete this step directly in the development environment before constructing a prototype was fundamental to completing the project on time.
Simulation also ensured a high level of accuracy in sizing the electric motors. IMA observed excellent correlation between the theoretical torque curves obtained through motor simulation and those achieved by measurements on the machine itself.
With such reliable results, simulation proved to be beneficial tool for avoiding mistakes in the selection of electrical components.
The time of machine development has been reduced significantly, since there was no need to replace either mechanical or electrical components due to errors that were not revealed prior to operation.
This approach also enabled IMA to perform numerous tests on mechanism geometry and motion profiles in advance, helping predict their dynamic behavior with a minimum margin of error. By drastically reducing the number of tests on the actual machine, this allowed commissioning to proceed smoothly without continuous interruption.
A slice of orange in your tea
B&R joined IMA early in the project to collaborate on a new approach to tea bag production where it was necessary to respect a record delivery time of only several months. With such demanding requirements, the project would rely on full mutual reliance between IMA and B&R.
The solution presented by B&R features state-of-the-art technology, including their new motor series with EnDat 2.2 encoders connected via a single hybrid cable and controlled using the sophisticated SafeMOTION algorithms and power regeneration functions integrated in B&R’s ACOPOSmulti drives. Perfect synchronization and safety-related communication between more than 20 axes on the machine is provided via openSAFETY over POWERLINK.
Multiple small racks host blocks of drives that mirror the modularity of the machine itself, while the common DC bus helps maximize energy savings.
Dozens of X20 I/O modules provide digital and analog signals, while a SafeLOGIC controller supervises safe motion control for all the axes. An Automation PC 910 handles real-time operation, including the machine control logic as well as safety and motion control – achieving a control cycle time for the motors of only 1200 microseconds.
The HMI application runs on a second Automation PC 910 along with IMA’s Windows-based SCADA system. The PC is connected via SDL3 to the operator interface: an Automation Panel customized as a “naked” touch panel that IMA integrates into its own HMI housing system, combining it with the specific components needed for each machine type.
The web-based System Diagnostics Manager included in the B&R automation platform makes it possible to check the status of machine operation using a standard web browser. Rather than programming diagnostics routines on the machine, simply activating the native self-diagnostics embedded in each B&R device makes extensive machine and production data readily accessible from any location in the world.
Automation Manager, IMA
“B&R has supplied us with PC and I/O systems for many years, and we’ve always appreciated their performance and reliability. With the compact dimensions, B&R’s fully integrated control system – including the integrated Automation Studio development environment –made a huge difference.”
Head of Supply Operations UK & Ireland, Twinings
“Our partners are curious, open to new possibilities and willing to invest the necessary resources. Collaboration with research institutions and innovative suppliers enables them to unlock fresh-thinking solutions.”