Bosch and Essen Production join forces to offer a new treat in Russian confectionery market
While the samovar is no longer a must in every Russian home, the tradition of tea-drinking is very much alive in the country. It goes back to long winter evenings when family and friends spent hours upon hours drinking tea over a cozy chat. Tea was usually consumed with something sweet which contributed to the development of a whole new class of snacks “to go with tea”: jams, pancakes, cookies and chocolate. Because Russian people usually drink tea after every meal, the consumption of sweets is deeply rooted in Russian culture. To capitalize on this tradition, Essen Production AG, a Russian food manufacturer famous for its Makheev mayonnaise brand, decided to enter the confectionery market.
New plant, new product, new line
Today, Essen Production offers more than 100 products under the Makheev brand, including ketchup, sauces, jams, spices, snacks and mayonnaise. In 2011, after ten successful years in the market, the company acquired an old meat processing factory in Elabuga, the Republic of Tatarstan, which is a region of the Russian Federation, and converted it into a cutting-edge confectionery production facility. The company’s first confectionery products include a range of wafer sweets: “Arami”, “Moya lubimaya Jozy” (translated as “my beloved Jozy”) and “Vafelnaya Konfetka” (translated as “wafer sweets”). “Arami” is a glazed wafer treat with whole hazelnuts, “Moya lubimaya Jozy” is a semi-glazed wafer with whole hazelnuts, whereas “Vafelnaya Konfetka” is a bar consisting of three wafers.
In December 2012, Essen Production’s first confectionery product under working title “Konfetka” (translated as sweets) began its maiden voyage to the tea tables of Russian sweets lovers. “The new treat has instantly found its fans,” said Oleg Sukhorukov, deputy general director confectionery, Essen Production. “While delicate taste is the key factor in growing popularity of “Arami”, “Moya lubimaya Jozy” and “Vafelnaya Konfetka”, to draw consumer attention at the store shelf, the product needed attractive packaging.”
When looking for a suitable packaging line, Essen Production sought out a solution that would offer the flexibility to package a variety of wafer products and address ever changing consumer preferences. After evaluating several packaging suppliers, Essen Production chose the solution from Bosch Packaging Technology consisting of the Lane Distribution System (LDS), five inline feeders (Pack Feeder 4) and five flow wrappers Pack 401. The Pack 401 machines are executed in a 4+1 configuration, which allows for undisrupted operations since one of the five lines is always on standby mode and can be used as a backup when another wrapper needs to be offline for maintenance, cleaning or any other issue.
To ensure that small wafers are packaged without bottlenecks and downtime, Bosch introduced its LDS (Lane Distribution System). The oscillating diagonal positioned side guides streamline the products into four equal rows, one wafer behind another, in perfect order to avoid jams and other related machine stoppages. The wafer rows are then diverted to the modular product infeed system and transferred to the Pack 401 horizontal flow wrapper.
Bosch’s LDS was specifically developed for small products and accommodates random product arrival at high production rates. Able to process up to 2,600 wafers per minute, the line achieves the highest possible efficiency by ensuring that products are automatically transported from one line part to another in the event of a breakdown.
In addition, different modules, such as buffering and product inspection, across the entire packaging line ensure that the quality of the delicate wafers is maintained throughout the packaging process. Waste and damage levels are therefore kept to the absolute minimum.
“Wafer products are fragile and unstable, making them a very demanding application to handle and package,” said Kasper Rentenaar, area sales manager, Bosch Packaging Technology. “We offered Essen Production a solution to overcome these challenges and ensure the highest possible quality.”
Wafers in all varieties
Because Russian consumers enjoy variety and choice when it comes to sweets, Essen Production developed several versions of its confectionery treats. Today, the company offers wafers with or without nuts, with or without decoration, and with creamy, chocolate or milky glazing. “Arami” and “Moya lubimaya Jozy” are produced in a single pyramid-shaped wafer only 2.5 centimeters wide, whereas “Vafelnaya Konfetka” is a bar consisting of three crispy wafer pyramids.
To ensure all of these product variations could be handled efficiently, Bosch designed a streamlined packaging line, which seamlessly integrates the LDS, infeed system and Pack 401 horizontal flow wrapper. The line’s compact footprint allows Essen Production to make optimal use of its available production space. In addition, the horizontal flow wrapper features easy to operate electronic controls and mechanical reproducible adjustments for quick changeovers and reduced downtime.
High-speed for growing wafer craving
To prepare itself for rapid increases in production volumes, Essen Production also required its packaging solution to have the ability to adapt from semi- to full automation, and from medium- to high-speed wrapping. The Pack Feeder 4 is capable of belt speeds up to 120 meters per minute, whereas the Pack 401 flow wrapper packages around 700 wafers per minute. To further maximize uptime, the Pack 401 features an automatic film splicer with a sensor that allows changeovers to a new film reel without stopping the machine. This feature not only reduces the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the system for Essen Production, but also allows the company to package its new treats more efficiently and be prepared for growing market demand.
“Bosch’s solution provides us with the option of quick upscale as wafer treats gain popularity,” said Sukhorukov. “This positions us for our anticipated growth over the next few years.”
The future is sweet
First distributed through the company-owned supermarket chain, “Arami”, “Moya lubimaya Jozy” and “Vafelnaya Konfetka” are rapidly gaining market share. Essen Production is looking to expand its confectionery facility and product offerings. Partnering with Bosch Packaging Technology, a complete solution provider with experience in packaging delicate wafer products, has allowed the Russian manufacturer to successfully enter the confectionery sector and respond to the ever-growing craving for sweets in Russia.
“With Bosch we have found a reliable partner who provides support during every stage of the new product development process; from development, to consultation, to integration and factory acceptance testing,” said Sukhorukov. “We look forward to continuing our work together as we further grow in the Russian confectionery market.”
 Traditional Russian Tea brewing device, tea-urn