More than five decades ago, International Mill opened its first point of sale in Al-Mubarakiya, the traditional business quarter of Kuwait City. One can still buy roasted coffee beans and nuts there from this same producer, which is still based in the city. However, the business in the traditional market is not the only constant in the company’s history: there is the same claim to the high quality of its products as there was in the early years, and this now also extends to the spices, dried fruits and confectionery, with which International Mill has gradually expanded its range: “The processing of first-class raw materials is our guarantee, that over the years we can compete for our customers’ favour and even expand our business,” says Shareef Sadeq the company’s General Manager.
Today a further 13 businesses in the metropolis on the Persian Gulf offer products from International Mill: they can be found in regional supermarkets and traditional souks, as well as in Kuwait’s modern shopping malls. The company has also opened another sales channel through catering suppliers who can order portion packs that are handed out, for example, to flight passengers.
In order to present the high-quality snacks in a suitable way, the company management decided last year to completely redesign the packs for its nut specialities. “In addition to a visual redesign of the packs, it was also a question of optimising their quality and automating the packaging procedure,” says Shareef Sadeq.
Although the nuts, fruits, spices and confectionery had, up to that point, been packed by hand. The potential for increased efficiency was in fact a less critical factor in the purchase of the thermoforming packaging machine. The main motive for the project was much more about improving the visual appearance and quality of the packs. “Attractive presentation and pack reliability are critical factors for a business, when it comes to successful cooperation with large food companies, shopping malls or airline catering suppliers,” says Shareef Sadeq with first-hand knowledge. “It was clear to us we could only meet the requirement for a consistently high standard over the long term by having an automated packaging procedure.”
The search for a partner for the new nut mix packaging in a suitable consumer pack and portion pack soon took shape, as Shareef Sadeq emphasizes: “MULTIVAC is known in the Arab world as a trustworthy, reliable and service-orientated supplier of packaging solutions. It is for this reason, that we relied from the start on the expertise of this company - and we were not disappointed, since the company’s good reputation was confirmed. The packaging solution was implemented on time, worked faultlessly from the first day and has exceeded all our expectations.”
Since April 2015, International Mill has been packing fifteen different nut mixtures in two sizes on the R 145 thermoforming packaging machine: usual consumer pack quantities and reclosable single portions. Among other factors, this machine that is designed for small to medium-sized batches was the model of choice due to its compact construction, since there was limited space in the production area for the new packaging solution, in which a weigher and printer also had to be integrated.
In the case of the weigher, this involved a multi-head weigher, controlling the portion amounts of the individual ingredients when the nut mixtures are being filled into the packs. A direct web printer prints production and use-by dates, as well as batch numbers onto the upper web.
The customer’s wish to have the pack cavity and lid exactly matched to each other in terms of colour provided a major challenge. “In the case of some of the 15 layouts for the different nut mixtures, the colour shades on the lower web were reproduced differently from those on the upper web. Working in cooperation with a leading film supplier, we experimented with various materials before the desired result was achieved,” says Philip K. Koshy, Area Sales Manager at MULTIVAC, who managed the project at International Mill.
Despite these hurdles, International Mill was able to put the packaging solution into service on time. Shareef Sadeq is not only satisfied with the visual appearance of the new packs: “Our new packaging solution ensures the packs are tightly sealed. Since the product is now packed in modified atmosphere, we achieve a minimum shelf life of one year,” says the General Manager with praise.
This means the company can produce in advance and supply its customers with sufficient quantities, even when the demand rises rapidly at short notice. The company’s satisfaction is affirmed by the follow-up order, which International Mill has already placed with
MULTIVAC: immediately after its new packaging line was put into service, the company ordered a second R 145 for producing large packs.
The R 145 is a compact thermoforming packaging machine for small to medium-sized batches. Since it can be equipped with a wide range of dies and can be extended in a modular way, it is capable of being used very flexibly. The R 145 is controlled via the HMI 2.0 user interface. Thanks to its graphic depiction and recipe memory with 200 spaces, the machine can be operated intuitively, which significantly reduces the required training for the personnel.
Since the lifting units of the R 145 distribute the sealing die pressure very evenly, and the servo drive of the transport chain positions the packaging materials very precisely, the R 145 produces packs with reproducible quality. The packaged food remains fresh for a long time and is protected against external influences.
The machine is built to the MULTIVAC Hygienic Design™ and is therefore very easy to clean. The side panels of the machine can be removed, allowing the areas inside the machine can be thoroughly cleaned.
Cut-off length (mm) < 500
Forming depth (mm) < 130
Output (cycles/min) < 14*
Hygiene standard MULTIVAC Hygiene Design™
*Depending on the equipment