Gluten free products in particular are no longer geared towards allergy sufferers alone, but have become a staple for many of today’s health-conscious consumers. A transparent supply chain is of utmost importance for product credibility. The concept “From Farm to Fork” is especially relevant since it provides consumers with the quality assurance they seek, and, in the case of allergy sufferers, even rely upon. Nairn’s Oatcakes, a well-known bakery manufacturer from Scotland, understands this demand for transparency and safety, and invested in a new factory that is completely gluten free. Oats are the perfect cereal for gluten free consumers and a true ambassador for the “healthy eating” trend.
In order to guarantee a 100 percent gluten free production, transparent processes are needed throughout the entire supply chain, from their locally cultivated fields, special mills and production facilities to the packaging process. Their efforts have certainly paid off: In 2017, the market for “Free From” products grew by approximately 12 percent in Western Europe alone. Within this segment, gluten free products are among the clear winners with a market share of 13 percent. In the UK, Nairn’s first mover advantage helped position the company as one of the top three manufacturers of gluten free products. The British “Free From” market volume currently totals around 500 million Pounds.
Due to the rising demand for gluten free products, the company decided to invest in a gluten free factory. Nairn’s has been running two-shift operations, five days a week, since November 2017. A variety of gluten free oat products are processed on a Bosch Two-in-One biscuit packaging system: oatcakes, crackers and biscuits are packaged as convenient, single-serve packs of three, four or six stacked biscuits. The processing speeds range from 210 to 304 packages per minute.
Gentle handling increases
The Bosch Two-in-One biscuit packaging system stands out for its particularly gentle product handling and its unrivaled pack style flexibility. Brian Douglas, project leader for the gluten free factory, explains: “Gluten free products are very sensitive compared to conventional products containing gluten. The dough has a different consistency, which means the biscuits are very fragile once they are baked. Our goal is to provide consumers with a perfect product and minimize waste throughout the production process.”
Flat handling is the optimal solution for limited product abrasion and fewer breaks. Hector Laing, manager of the gluten free factory, adds: “The Bosch Two-in-One biscuit packaging system was our first choice. It’s gentle flat handling and format flexibility are ideally suited for our production requirements. Waste is minimal, and the system offers us long-term flexibility in terms of packaging size and package style.”
“The shingling and stacking process to produce pile and slug packs is efficient and gentle thanks to linear motor technology. Preliminary tests at Bosch in Beringen, Switzerland showed that the sensitive, gluten free products could be packaged reliably – even at high speeds,” according to Tony Roe, sales manager at Bosch. Flat handling ensures the gentle distribution and feeding of the products.The system’s electrical direct drive facilitates profile changes at the push of a button. The motion control system calculates each product’s customized traversing profile, which boosts flexibility – the products’ individual processing requirements can be met almost instantly, thus guaranteeing gentle handling and smooth processes for delicate products. “We understand the challenges of gluten free production. Hygienic design, a clear machine layout and optimal cleaning processes were integral to the development of this efficient packaging system, along with flexibility and performance” adds Roe.