Practical insight at JTI

InlineCan - the perfect packaging for tobacco

A look into the production hall at  Japan Tobacco International (JTI)  proves that the OPTIMA CFS and the InlineCan manufacturing machine from  Hörauf  are a great team. JTI is one of the largest manufacturers of tobacco products and uses the InlineCan machine to package some of their products since May 2017. Why the concept of Optima and Hörauf is the right concept for JTI and what role the inductive sealing plays, was explained by Martin Feilen, Project Manager at JTI in Trier.

Tobacco is one of the oldest, popular and versatile cultivated crops. Already known to the indigenous people of the Americas as a medicinal plant, tobacco started its success story as a stimulant in the 15th century. Dried it serves as a basis for different products: fine cut, chewing, pipe and snuff tobacco, and the most popular product – the cigarette. Cigarettes are still the most popular tobacco product in Germany.

Important for you
  • InlineCans are carton containers that are manufactured in a consistent process and immediately filled and closed. This means that the manufacturing of the package is completed at the packaging location. The InlineCan can be square, rectangular or polygon. It can combine round and angular forms and it can be oval or round.
  • Sweets, snacks, cereals, coffee, tea, milk powder, dry pet food and other dry product can be packaged with the InlineCan. In connection with the calibrated weighing technology highly accurate weighing results are created that reduce product loss to a minimum. The closed cans can be transported directly to the secondary packing.
  • Manufactures have a wide variety of formats to choose from since the format change is easy due to the unchanged footprint of the InlineCan. 
  • A high quality and trendy look excites consumers. Barrier features protect sensitive products and keep the aroma. 
  • Only film material has to be transported and the trucking of ready-to-use, empty packages is not needed anymore. At the same time the transport and storage cost are reduced.
Two men in front of a tobacco filling machine
Martin Feilen, project leader at the JTI location in Trier and Ulrich Burkart, Sales Director Food Solutions at Optima, discuss final technical details.

The tobacco market is fast moving. Packaging trends are constantly changing and manufacturers have to react in a timely manner to consumer requirements. This also applies to JTI, which is one of the world’s leading tobacco product manufacturers. The facility in Trier manufactures tobacco products for the German market but also for export. JTI was looking for a machine manufacturer who was able to provide a packaging solution for a square tobacco can. Besides market trends, the TPD 2 – tobacco guidelines contributed to the switch from the round packaging solution to the square carton the “InlineCan” (more about the InlineCan: see info box). The EU-wide regulation is in effect since 2016 and regulates that 95 percent of the product package have to contain warning messages. According to Martin Feilen, this was one of the reasons for the change from the round carton package to the square InlineCan – it allowed for more advertising space and less warning references on the can. Hörauf, the carton-manufacturing expert, introduced JTI to Optima Consumer. In order to provide the InlineCan packaging solution, Hörauf and Optima Consumer worked together closely.

The InlineCan reduces 40 truckloads to one

The coordinated approach of Optima and Hörauf made sense to JTI according to Martin Feilen. The most relevant requirement for the package was air tightness. “Tobacco is a very sensitive product, that has to stay fresh”, explained Martin Feilen. Tobacco loses its moisture during storage and therefore, a moisture barrier is a key factor. The InlineCan has an additional advantage for JTI – it is less expensive. Regular cans are up to six or seven times more expensive than the InlineCan. In addition, no transport costs occur since the carton can is directly manufactured in the production facility. Traffic at the factory premises is significantly less: instead of 40 trucks, only one truck is needed to deliver the paper rolls for manufacturing the InlineCans. The storage space that was needed for the former cans can now be used for other purposes.

InlineCan product samples
Examples for InlineCans
Induction versus thermal: The sealing as a decisive advantage

Since May 2017, JTI is gaining experience with the two OPTIMA CFS machines that fill the Inline Cans with Make-Your-Own (MYO) tobacco and closes them. This was the perfect time for the Optima editorial staff to check: how satisfied is JTI and why is the OPTIMA CFS the perfect solution for the company?

Martin Feilen emphasized the induction sealing: “The membrane is the key factor for the freshness of the tobacco.” If the membrane is damaged, the tobacco loses moisture. The inductive seal ensures that the cans are correctly sealed. An additional benefit of this process is that only the film is heated and not the product. Ulrich Burkart, Sales Director Food Solutions at Optima Consumer added: “the challenge of inductive sealing is the need for absolute tightness and the requirement to remove the film in one piece without any remnants.” Only Optima was able to offer this extremely high tightness said Martin Feilen. Induction sealing requires less cleaning time and rarely leads to downtimes compared to thermal sealing.
The machines run in a three-shift operation, six days a week. The installation was completed within four weeks without any problems. “The Optima service technicians knew what they were doing,” said Martin Feilen.

Due to the modular design, the packaging machine is flexible and JTI is able to react quickly to new market requirements. For example, leaflets can be inserted or moisture-containing sponges can be glued to the inside of the closure. Martin Feilen praises the machine in addition for its easy accessibility that makes the cleaning simple and benefits the work ergonomics during repair work.

Two men in front of a tobacco filling machine

Martin Feilen, project leader at the JTI location in Trier and Ulrich Burkart, Sales Director Food Solutions at Optima, in discussion in front of the OPTIMA CFS that fills “Make-Your-Own (MYO)” tobacco in InlineCans since May 2017. The re-closable plastic lid makes the carton can so convenient for consumers.

Two men in front of a tobacco filling machine

Martin Feilen is very happy with the project progression. He emphasizes the inductive seal: “The membrane is the key to the tobacco’s freshness.”

The machines achieve a 97 percent efficiency

Very positive is the output of the machine for Martin Feilen: 150 products per minute leave the machine, independent on the format size. The machine efficiency reaches 97 percent. The JTI specifications were far exceeded. The reject rate is also less than required by JTI with 0.3 percent. Format changes are completed without tools within ten minutes since the InlineCans are only different in height, but the footprint is the same. An additional advantage resulting from the quick format change overs is it permits tests and small batch production.

What about cleaning and hygiene? To fulfill the hygienic requirement the Optima engineers made sure that the machine does not have any cavities. “The cleaning and cleanliness of the machine is very important. This was an emphasis during the design phase”, said Martin Feilen. An anti-static puck cleaning ensures cleanliness during the return transport and avoids product contamination.

Tobacco machine

The carton can is directly manufactured in the production facility.

2 people talking at the tablet in front of the machine

Tablets visualize individual machine parts so they can be discussed right at the machine.

Quality and production security were key factors

Tobacco customers are demanding and therefore quality is a special focus. Optima Consumer relieved initial concerns regarding the high demands of a tobacco packaging solution quickly. “The biggest challenge was the dust that causes wear on everything inside the packaging machine” noted Martin Feilen. Optima Consumer mastered this challenge. The Optima machine seamlessly integrates into the production process. Besides the package quality the production security was a deciding factor for JTI. The Optima and Hörauf design were the most convincing in this regard. That Optima was not the least expensive vendor was only a secondary issue: “Optima is worth it”, commented Martin Feilen. 

In addition, a well-coordinated project management from both sides was very important since JTI was the general contractor and had to rely on its suppliers. This was very well structured through  several design reviews at Optima. Martin Feilen commends the cooperation as a “showcase management project”. Due to a constant communication, new ideas were implemented immediately.

Preventive maintenance will be an important subject

In the future JTI will place great importance on line management and the digital interaction, reported Martin Feilen. Maintenance, service and support are becoming increasingly important to the company since the storage of expensive spare parts such as components for control units is problematic. More than once the parts didn’t work when they were needed.
This confirms that Optima is on the right track with its Life Cycle Management Optima Total Care (as reported in the o-com special edition Total Care). It fulfills the high requirements for a lifelong service of packaging machines, as described by Martin Feilen. With WEmaintain and TCAP Optima Total Care offers a system for a cycle based, as well as a condition based maintenance.
Based on this overall positive experience JTI decided to buy two additional OPTIMA CFS machines. “In close cooperation with Optima and Hörauf we developed a solution and we want to continue on this path,” so Martin Feilen. The story of the successful duo is far from over.

Portrait picture Martin Feilen
Martin Feilen, Project Manager at JTI in Trier

JTI is very particular and expects the highest quality.

Martin Feilen, Project Manager at JTI in Trier
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