In its timeless pursuit of the perfect tea-drinking experience, Twinings turned to long-time machine manufacturing partner IMA to build a new production line for its reinvented tea bag and packaging. In only eight months, IMA and automation partner B&R equipped the new machines with the intelligence and flexibility Twinings will need to achieve Industry 4.0 production.
Delivering great flavor to consumers around the world, Twinings has been a driving force in the increasing popularity of healthy teas. Tea bag design has been a key factor in this success, and in the spirit of innovation, Twinings is always looking for new ways to delight tea connoisseurs.
With its new new packaging concept, Twinings now delivers an improved consumer experience with better carton opening and closing and an innovative single teabag format that will help drive differentiation among tea products. Consumer research has confirmed that the new packaging design and teabag format have met their mark – with strong scores on both flavor and freshness.
The relaunch also represents a major investment in state-of-the-art technology for the Twinings UK production facility. As it embarked on the development of a new production line that would reinvent the heatseal teabag – a cornerstone of UK tea culture for decades – Twinings was delighted that it could rely on its long-established relationship with machine manufacturer IMA
"Many suppliers are content simply bringing variations of decades-old technology to market," says Ian Kavanagh, head of supply operations UK&I at Twinings, "which is why a partner like IMA is so incredibly important to our organization. They are curious, open to new possibilities and willing to invest the resources necessary to turn theory into applied benefits. Collaboration with research institutions and innovative suppliers enables them to unlock fresh-thinking solutions to design constraints."
Excited about where emerging technologies like those implemented by IMA can take their operations, Twinings believes that cyber-physical systems will play a key role in achieving their full potential. These intelligent solutions will guide them in focusing resources where they can have the most impact and vastly improve their ability to translate data into valuable information.
The strict and binding timeline required by Twinings for this launch was the primary challenge that drove development of the new C59 machine right from the start.
IMA has accumulated considerable experience applying cutting-edge R&D in the development of new machines, while the cooperation and expertise of reliable suppliers has also played an undeniable role in the company's success. For this challenging project, IMA decided to single-source the automation to B&R. As the first comprehensive collaboration between the two companies, the strict timeline posed a calculated risk – but, with the right mix of courage and trust, it certainly paid off.
Automation Manager, IMA
"B&R has supplied us with PC and I/O systems for many years, and we’ve always appreciated their performance and reliability. With the compact dimensions, B&R's fully integrated control system – including the integrated Automation Studio development environment – made a huge difference."
"B&R has supplied us with PC and I/O systems for many years," says Sauro Rivola, automation manager at IMA, "and we've always appreciated their performance and reliability." It was those qualities that led IMA to select B&R for the development of the new Twinings machine. "With the compact dimensions, B&R's fully integrated control system – including the integrated Automation Studio development environment – made a huge difference," says Rivola. The binding timeline with the end customer also had a substantial impact on development strategy. One way that IMA met this challenge was with B&R's ready-to-use software modules. Furthermore, the excellent support of B&R personnel and advanced simulation features directly in Automation Studio allowed critical parts of the machine to be accurately sized early in the conceptual design phase.
B&R's drive-integrated safety technology and single-cable hybrid motor connectors helped IMA considerably reduce the time required for wiring and obtain CAT3 (EN 13849-1) certification for safety applications as specified by Twinings. Finally, the use of an energy recovery system helped achieve a significant reduction in both energy consumption and heat dispersion in the electrical cabinet.
Simulation of the dynamic behavior of the entire IMA system, including drives and loads, allowed each mechanical component to be precisely dimensioned to optimize the relationship between inertia and resistance to breakage. The ability to complete this step directly in the development environment before constructing a prototype was fundamental to completing the project on time.
Simulation also ensured a high level of accuracy in sizing the electric motors. IMA observed excellent correlation between the theoretical torque curves obtained through motor simulation and those achieved by measurements on the machine itself.
With such reliable results, simulation proved to be beneficial tool for avoiding mistakes in the selection of electrical components. The time of machine development has been reduced significantly, since there was no need to replace either mechanical or electrical components due to errors that were not revealed prior to operation.
This approach also enabled IMA to perform numerous tests on mechanism geometry and motion profiles in advance, helping predict their dynamic behavior with a minimum margin of error. By drastically reducing the number of tests on the actual machine, this allowed commissioning to proceed smoothly without continuous interruption.
B&R joined IMA early in the project to collaborate on a new approach to tea bag production. The goal was to allow multiple formats on one machine at nearly twice the rate of existing machines – all in a record delivery time of only few months. With such demanding requirements, the project would rely on full mutual reliance between IMA and B&R.
The solution presented by B&R features state-of-the-art technology, including their new motor series with EnDat -2.2 encoders connected via a single hybrid cable and controlled using the sophisticated SafeMOTION algorithms and power regeneration functions integrated in B&R's ACOPOSmulti drives. Perfect synchronization and safety-related communication between more than 20 axes on the machine is provided via openSAFETY over POWERLINK. Multiple small racks host blocks of drives that mirror the modularity of the machine itself, while the common DC bus helps maximize energy savings.
Dozens of X20 I/O modules provide digital and analog signals, while a SafeLOGIC controller supervises safe motion control for all the axes. An Automation PC 910 handles real-time operation, including the machine control logic as well as safety and motion control – achieving a control cycle time for the motors of only 1200 microseconds.
The HMI application runs on a second Automation PC 910 along with IMA's Windows-based SCADA system. The PC is connected via Smart Display Link to the operator interface: an Automation Panel customized as a "naked" touch panel that IMA integrates into its own HMI housing system, combining it with the specific components needed for each machine type.
The web-based System Diagnostics Manager included in the B&R automation platform makes it possible to check the status of machine operation using a standard web browser. Rather than programming diagnostics routines on the machine, simply activating the native self-diagnostics embedded in each B&R device makes extensive machine and production data readily accessible from any location in the world.
The market shift from black tea toward herbal tea has led Twinings to upgrade the technology used to produce its single-chamber tea bags. The result is the new C59 machine, which combines advanced handling technology with a sophisticated new tea bag design featuring side gussets that provide more room for more efficient infusion.
As an alternative to traditional heat-sealable filter paper, the C59 also supports 100% renewable PLA material. As a two-in-one machine, it offers a fully integrated solution for flow-packing counted single-chamber tea bags for maximum footprint reduction. Flow-packing eliminates the final box overwrapping and related risk of contamination from recycled cardboard while further improving efficiency. To complete the cycle, the C59 can be easily connected to a downstream cartoning unit.
These innovations and more were made possible by the combined expertise of machine manufacturer IMA and automation partner B&R, helping to prepare Twinings for the heightened demands of Industry 4.0 production.
Implemented in only eight months, the C59 machine – with new control architecture, mechanics and functionality – is now producing tea bags at the impressive rate of 900 ppm. ACOPOSmulti regenerative drive technology helped reduce energy consumption by a double-digit percentage. B&R's modular software functions and simulation in Automation Studio helped significantly reduce the time of development.
Head of Supply Operations UK & Ireland, Twinings
"Our partners are curious, open to new possibilities and willing to invest the necessary resources. Collaboration with research institutions and innovative suppliers enables them to unlock fresh-thinking solutions."
Automation Studio – Best solution for IMA
Advanced simulation features directly in Automation Studio allowed critical parts of the machine to be accurately sized early in the conceptual design phase. Together with B&R's modular software functions, this significantly reduced development time.