Fox’s Biscuits, part of the 2 Sisters Food Group, has made a seven figure investment in new flow wrapping, bagging and weighing equipment with Ilapak for its Rocky and Party Rings biscuits, as part of a strategy to drive efficiency by replacing legacy equipment. The project, which includes six Vegatronic 6000 baggers, six Weightronic multi-head weighers, two Eagle flow wrappers and a Delta over-wrapper, consolidates ILAPAK and 2 Sisters’ strategic partnership.
Fox’s Rocky chocolate biscuit bar brand is a household name, listed with all the major multiples and enjoying a loyal following of consumers. To keep supermarket shelves fully stocked, the biscuit manufacturer has four lines operating 24/7 at speeds of 600 bars per minute at its factory in Kirkham, Lancashire.
Last year, the company identified a need to replace some of this equipment with new technology that would deliver greater flexibility and higher speeds. ILAPAK was already one of 2 Sisters Food Group’s strategic partners, and had recently helped Fox’s Biscuits out of a potentially crippling downtime situation by airfreighting a DSA Eagle flow wrapper from the US when one of the biscuit manufacturer’s flow wrappers succumbed. Therefore, when it came to making further planned investments, ILAPAK’s name was high on the list of potential suppliers.
“We try to work with partners who understand the challenges we face with our customers. We have worked with ILAPAK elsewhere within the Group and like the way they operate as a packaging equipment supplier,” says Matt Soden, Category Manager, Equipment and Machinery, at 2 Sisters. “We’d also been pleased with the performance of the Eagle flow wrapper - there are very few flow wrappers on the market that can be relied upon to deliver the speeds we require.”
Smooth flow wrapping solution for Rocky biscuit bars
Fox’s was looking for a complete line solution for flow wrapping individual 21g Rocky biscuit bars and then over-wrapping them in packs of eight. ILAPAK proposed a complete line solution comprising its US-built DSA Eagle flow wrapper, feeding into a sweep system for collating the bars and a Delta over-wrapping system.
Engineered for 24/7 production environments and speeds in excess of 1000ppm, the DSA Eagle incorporates features such as automatic splicing and expanded touchscreen diagnostics for efficiency excellence. Heavy duty construction and the design of its feeding system are also key to the flow wrapper’s exceptional performance at high speeds.
“ILAPAK’s proposal delivered everything the site wanted strategically in an attractive package. It supported us with the challenges we face and met our timescales. In addition, ILAPAK was flexible enough to revise parts of the project when needed,” says Matt.
Flexible multipack production for Party Ring Minis
As well as producing over 10 million Rocky bars every week, Fox’s Kirkham factory makes 10 million party rings each week, and Fox’s was keen to modernise the packaging process for bagging Party Ring Minis into both individual bags and multipacks.
“We wanted more flexibility in terms of multipack formats and our existing equipment was no longer able to deliver the output we needed,” explains Matt.
ILAPAK put forward a proposal that Matt says was “commercially right for the business” and supported Fox’s “timescales, needs and challenges”.
Four Weightronic 16-10 multi-head weighers would feed four Vegatronic 6000 bagmakers with 21g weighments of Party Ring Mini biscuits to create portion sized pillow packs. These would then be collated and packed into multipacks containing 6 x 21g bag via two Weightronic 14-50 multi-head weighers linked to two further Vegatronic 6000 bagmakers.
The continuous motion Vegatronic 6000 bagger promised Fox’s greater versatility as it can produce the full range of vertical bag styles, including pillow, block bottom, Quattro, EasyPack and Doy-style packs. Thanks to its Ethercat electronic platform and unique jaw profile, the advanced bagger can match the performance of rotary jaw machines on this type of application, achieving speeds of up to 200ppm on small pillow packs.
ILAPAK’s ability to offer both flow wrapping and bagging equipment as well as integrated line solutions also had a major bearing on Fox’s decision to work with ILAPAK on this project.
“Being able to use a single supplier for all of our flow wrapping, weighing and bagging equipment needs is an attractive proposition for us. It makes everything easier - from training our operators through to holding spares and carrying out servicing and maintenance. We also favour single-source full line solutions, as one supplier is responsible for the efficient operation of that line, and there are no ‘ownership’ issues,” says Matt.
The bagging lines are due to be installed this month and the flow wrapping equipment is scheduled for delivery in June, with FAT (Factory Acceptance Testing) currently underway.
The seven figure project is a sizable investment for Fox’s and aligns with the company’s commitment to continuous investment in innovation.
“As a business we are always looking for ways of doing things differently, better and more efficiently, to the benefit of our customers. We regularly review our fleet of equipment and speak to partners, such as ILAPAK, to keep abreast of innovations that might help us to deliver a better product to our customers,” says Matt.
Call us on 0208 797 2026 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about our confectionery weighing and flow wrapping solutions!