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Post published on 02/05/2021

When innovation meets sustainability - IMA’s new CT11 teabag packaging machine handles ecofriendly materials.

Based on a chance meeting dating back to the late sixties, the relationship between IMA and the current Laurens Spethmann Holding (LSH) is more a fruitful collaboration in the development of innovative packaging solutions than a mere supplier – customer one.

As a matter of fact, starting from the first C20 machine (1968 – the first IMA teabag packaging machine), up to the revolutionary C24 for knotted double-chamber teabags (1998), IMA and LSH have continuously challenged each other to develop innovative solutions with a precise and common aim in order to meet goals that would combine technology and efficiency to achieve a more sustainable product and processes.

Operating throughout Europe, LSH is a modern and flexible family company now in its 4th generation, with the advantages of a corporate culture shaped by its owners. The individual strategic business areas of LSH serve and develop different markets: tea (70%), snack bars & sweeteners (14%) and cereals (16%). 10 billion tea bags of black, green, fruit as well as herbal teas are produced annually by companies belonging to LSH.

LSH today employs a workforce of 1,490 people in Europe of which 1,250 are in Germany alone.

So far, LSH has been producing common double chamber teabags on IMA machines, but it has now chosen our Group once again as a partner for the development of a new solution for packaging a niche product launched by a global B2B LSH customer.

The new IMA CT11 machine is able to pack 200 tetrahedral or pillow bags with thread and tag per minute, complete with sealed outer envelope and final carton. “Sustainable packaging” has been the leitmotif and the driving force of the project right from its inception. In fact, the CT11 handles fully compostable materials, from the filter material to the cardboard box.

Interview with Andreas Rippstein, Head of production and engineering at LSH:

What were your main objectives for this new project?

While LSH has always focused its attention on the packaging material issue by choosing, for example, machines that handle non-heat sealable filter paper, the increasing market demand for fully sustainable packs and one outstanding global project in particular were the ultimate drive behind this new project.

It was a dual challenge, facing on one side the need for highly sophisticated technology to handle premium quality products and compostable materials, and on the other an intensive collaboration with material suppliers that represent an essential element in the development of new solutions.

What are the advantages offered by the compact and integrated CT11 solution?

According to our experience, the design of fully integrated lines is an essential feature for IMA and as a result, the CT11 is a unique packaging solution capable of producing tetrahedral or pillow bags protected by a sealed outer envelope and then packed into cartons.

The entire unit is just 4.5 metres long. Furthermore, thanks to its ergonomics, machine control is managed by a single HMI that allows the operator user-friendly handling on more than just one line.

What solution has IMA developed to handle a delicate product like long leaf tea, for example?

A weight doser is essential when it comes to long leaf products as it prevents degradation: a risk we cannot take when dealing with premium quality teas. IMA has patented a small size weight-doser to be fitted directly on the machine, which isn’t affected by the vibrations caused by the movement of the mechanical elements. Therefore this solution also guarantees excellent dosage accuracy.

What advantages does the flexibility of the CT11 offer?

The premium quality market is strongly characterized by significant packaging differentiation and the CT11 is based on a modular structure able to respond to this need. In fact, the machine can easily perform filter bag size change-over from tetrahedral to pillow bag, as well as counting and carton size change-over procedures.

What are your expectations as regards industry 4.0?

Our main expectation concerns interconnection between CT11 and our company ERP-System and/ or MES (manufacturing execution system) in order to increase efficiency by optimising production organisation. Secondarily, our focus is on predictive maintenance to prevent failures and downtimes.

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