Submitted by Gerhard Schubert GmbH 

In the past 50 years, the Finnish family-run business Juustoportti has evolved from a small cheese farm into a company with more than 150 employees and annual sales of approximately 40 million euros ($42.5 million). 

Over time, the company complemented its traditional Finnish cheese selection with a wide range of other dairy products, such as yogurt and cottage cheese. These are sold under its own brand as well as by private label accounts. 

The production technology at the company’s site in Jalasjärvi in western Finland is one of the most modern in the country and is part of a consistent product development strategy, which also encompasses extensive investments.

When a major retail customer asked Juustoportti about creating yogurt in 2- and 4-packs, the dairy was sure it would be able to meet these requirements. Previously, the processor had packed yogurt and quark cups of varying diameters in standard cartons, each containing 10 cups. 

Juustoportti now had to find a machine solution that would also be able to package cups in paper sleeves, along with its current packaging applications.

The dairy processor/packaging supplier relationship

Juustoportti met Gerhard Schubert GmbH (a maker of packaging equipment) at the 2014 Anuga FoodTec show in Cologne. 

Timo Keski-Kasari, the owner of the dairy giant, described his packaging challenge. Gerhard Schubert has extensive experience with this kind of application and provided a customized machine concept that allows for the flexible packaging of various formats and pack sizes.  The equipment supplier developed a concept with various proposals and invited the customer to its headquarters in Crailsheim, Germany. 

Following a reference visit to the Alois Müller dairy company (a long-standing Schubert customer), Keski-Kasari was sure he had found the right partner with Schubert. 

Robots provide efficiency in the packaging process 

The dairy chose a TLM packaging line consisting of three modules. The key components of the system developed for the Finnish customer are the F2 robots in combination with the F3 presentation units and two Transmodul lines. This combination ensures high flexibility on a small footprint.

The packaging process begins with the supply of the cups in a row on a conveyor belt. By means of a grouping chain, these are pre-grouped in clusters of eight cups. During the infeed, a camera check ensures that cups without covers are rejected.

In the first module, a TLM-F3 robot automatically removes the sleeves from the magazine and transfers them to the erecting robot. This F2 robot positions the open sleeves in a holding device on a Transmodul which carries the sleeves to the next sub-machine. Simultaneously, the clustered cups are conveyed to the loading station.

In the next sub-machine, an F2 robot picks the clustered cups and places them in the sleeves. These are closed in the third module, and then placed into cartons in five sleeve-packs before they exit the machine. Since the system packs the cups in sleeves and then immediately puts them in the trays, the Schubert system requires significantly fewer interfaces than similar solutions. The customer benefits from higher efficiency of the packaging process.

Another special feature of this project was to place the cups in cartons of 10. The cups had to be positioned in the cartons so that they would not slip during transport. The Schubert solution consists in folding the bottom carton so that the individual cups are fixed on four sides. This unique solution was proposed by Schubert’s packaging development team. 

During the final system inspection and approval in Crailsheim, the customer was delighted with the performance of the machine and the quality of the closed sleeves. The new solution will enable Juustoportti to maintain its strong market position at retail.

Packaging formats: Sleeves and Cartons

•    4-pack sleeve of yogurt cups measuring 75 millimeters in diameter x 60 millimeters
•    2-pack sleeve of quark cups measuring 95 millimeters in diameter x 42 millimeters 
•    2-pack sleeve of quark cups measuring 95 millimeters in diameter x 58 millimeters 
•    10-unit carton/yogurt cups
•    6-unit carton/Quark cups

Performance: Up to 200 products per minute

•    Approximately 128,000 cups in 2 shifts
•    4-pack sleeve: 200 products per minute
•    2-pack sleeve: 160 per minute
•    Single cups: 200 per minute