Since 1940, Ricola has been synonymous with Swiss quality. The company’s trademark Original Herb Candies have been blended from 13 pure and organic herbs using the same delicious recipe for nearly 70 years. The company, based in Laufen, Switzerland, has always strived for the perfect marriage of its trusted core values and the best, most advanced production methods.
When Ricola was looking to update the production line for its candies in Original and Lemon Balm varieties, the company’s demands were as high as the quality of its ingredients. The main requirements for the new system were an increase in production output and higher flexibility. At the same time, Ricola was looking for a production line that would be easy to clean and maintain, was tailored to its demands, and would ensure the highest product quality possible.
A Collaboration with Heritage
When it came to selecting a partner to provide the technology and machinery for the new production line, the choice was clear for Ricola. Building on 35 years of collaboration with Ricola, Bosch Confectionary was trusted and reliable, and familiar with the existing line and requirements. Bosch Confectionary devised a fully integrated solution that was installed and operational in fewer than five weeks after the original commissioning. As the seventh continuous Bosch cooking line at Ricola’s plant, the new system is fast, seamless and, most importantly, allows Ricola to manufacture larger quantities with ease.
A Line with Many Talents
The new line features Bosch’s product-conserving BKK continuous cooker that heats the sugar solution using a classical cooking coil heat exchanger. When the sugar solution is boiled down to about 97 percent dry solids (DS), the thickened mass is transported into the specially designed vapor separation chamber where the vapors are discharged dryly.
After it is mixed with aromas and colors for specific recipes in the mixing pot, the sugar mass is cooled via a BTK cooling belt and transported to the BPK 0240 high-speed forming line. The BPK’s sizing rollers guarantee speed and sizing control for a rope speed of up to 240 meters per minute. The sugar rope is then fed to the rotary forming die, which ensures a clean, seamless candy with a precise imprint.
The formed and cut candy pieces are then fed and evenly distributed across a conveyor belt in the BCK 1500 cooling tunnel. Air, dried by the specially designed airflow, is passed through from the top down, evenly and gently cooling the products, so they are ready to be packaged.
Candy in All Shapes & Varieties
In order to process different products, such as candy containing sugar and sugar-free varieties, on the same line, Ricola was in need of a flexible and adaptable system. To provide the needed flexibility whilst minimizing changeover times, Bosch devised a customized line that would speed up production and cater to a greater product variety.
A highlight of this solution is the new customized mixing pot, which allows for recipes and ingredients to be adapted freely and spontaneously, and boasts significantly better flexibility than inline mixing systems. In addition, the tailored layout means that the line can easily be adapted to handle two sugar ropes consisting of different colors and aromas simultaneously.
Clean & Under Control
Along with a greater variety of production options, the new line also provides unparalleled control and ease of operation for Ricola. Fitted with automatic startup and shutdown (ASU), the line is capable of rapidly ceasing operation in case of a fault or error occurring in one of the system’s components. This helps prevent jams of the sugar rope in the sizing section, as well as the accumulation of faulty candy pieces further along the production chain. The ASU system, therefore, minimizes downtime and product losses whilst saving energy and ensuring reliability.
The new operating system, which features more powerful software, enables staff to monitor and control all processes safely and easily. Figures and process steps are clearly laid out and can be checked at a glance. The simpler interface and software also reduces the amount of training required for new operators.
Another key improvement for ease of operation has been introduced in the shape of a clean-in-place (CIP) system. As the products handled are of a sticky and liquid consistency, thorough cleaning is crucial for the production of hygienic, high-quality products. This is of even greater importance as different product varieties are handled by the same system.
Automated cleaning, along with an easily accessible stainless steel design, significantly reduces cleaning and changeover times, and frees up staff to attend to other tasks. In addition, an exhaust system in the forming die prevents the accumulation of sugar dust, whilst rope deflectors keep the sugar mass from sticking to the rollers, creating a clean, hygienic production environment.
No Compromise on Quality
With an average output of 12 to 19 kilograms of candy per minute, the new production line has allowed Ricola to increase production according to its demands. At the same time, the advanced cleaning technology, high level of automation and high standard of machinery ensure that the products are produced at the high quality for which they are known and loved.
Thomas Fringeli, plant manager at Ricola, summed it up: “With its flexibility, the new line allows us to produce all of our current recipes quickly and effectively. Added to this, it offers us the option to handle two separate recipes simultaneously, or introduce the production of filled candy. Most of all, the new system is a perfect combination of the latest technologies that enables us to lead a classic product into the future.”