Michael Kurz is manager of the design and development department at Indag Germany, a subsidiary of Wild, a world leading supplier of natural flavour ingredients for the food industry. Capri-Sonne and Caps are private brands of Wild. Indag, founded in 1952, develops and implements state-of-the-art process systems and filling and packaging machines for the food and beverage industry.
Q: What drives the systems of the Capri-Sonne manufacturer Wild?
A: With the exception of the US, it is almost always SEW-Eurodrive. When I started at Indag in 1994, my first project was to speed up process times in production. Servo drives from SEW-Eurodrive were best equipped to handle this task. The next quantum leap in filling speeds followed at the end of the ‘90s – from 324 to 500 pouches per minute. Now, one line is able to fill and close the pouches, attach straws, and package the drinks ready for delivery. It is true to say that servo technology is the key in the production processes today.
Q: The stand-up pouch has been part of the branding of Capri-Sonne for almost 40 years now. Do you think it is also the reason for the product’s worldwide success?
A: Yes, it is one of the factors of the company’s success, besides the brand and the recipe. Company founder Rudolf Wild established the packaging as an integral part of the brand right from the beginning. The stand-up pouch, made of a three-ply composite material, is a packaging concept in its own right. This is why we produce our own filling and packaging systems. We even produce the pouches ourselves. Only the foil, which is just a tenth of a millimetre thick, is produced and supplied by an external company according to strict specifications.
Q: Each year, 5 billion pouches across the world are filled with Capri-Sonne. You would think that would give you enough to do, but you also supply machines to other branded companies, don’t you?
A: We have been designing and manufacturing systems for other companies for about three years now under the name Indag Pouch Systems. We supply systems to the food, drinks, pet food and pharmaceutical industries. We take on turnkey projects covering the entire process chain, including downstream and upstream equipment.
Q: What was the most challenging problem you were faced with when improving the systems?
A: It may not sound very interesting for anyone unfamiliar with the industry, but one of the most challenging problems was to develop a solution for attaching straws to the Capri-Sonne pouches. In this process, the horizontal pouches must be transferred to a conveyor belt at full speed (1,2 m/s) with exact positioning. As our development partner, SEW-Eurodrive had an important part to play in this development. In fact, we were one of the first companies to use the new Movi-PLC in an industrial application.
Q: In 2002, Wild launched a new type of pouch on the market known as Caps. Were you not worried about breaking with tradition?
A: It was a clever marketing concept to extend the product range and revitalise the brand. The target group for Capri-Sonne is children up to 12 years of age. Caps on the other hand are designed to appeal to young adults. We were tasked with designing a resealable shaped pouch without affecting the throughput rate of the machine. We are proud to have come up with such a good solution. We have had a great deal of success with this new machinery, particularly on the open market.
Q: Capri-Sonne, Caps, intelligent filling technology, marketing solutions – is there anything left that can challenge you as a development manager?
A: At present, we are designing stand-up pouches for other foodstuffs, such as milk drinks, coffee or tea. These types of products cannot be kept at warm temperatures for long after sterilisation because the ingredients, particularly the flavour additives, would suffer. They must be kept cold, which means they must be filled under aseptic conditions. We are concentrating our energies on this project at the moment. I am sure we will be able to introduce a prototype by the end of the year. That would represent another breakthrough for our packaging philosophy.
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