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    Nature in jars
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    Nature in jars

      Unremarkable Stans in the midst of the Tyrolean mountains is home to an exquisite line of products: in this 2,000-soul community, the A. Darbo AG company conjures up jams, jellies and other fruity delights – made to traditional recipes and with natural ingredients.

      In order to fill these premium products into jars with all the due care they deserve, the family firm boldly ventured an innovative quantum leap in its production operations – and became the world’s first food producer to invest in a Viscofill. A newly developed machine that means Krones’ extensive filler expertise is now also available for sophisticated food applications.

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      When you enter Darbo’s production hall, you’re greeted by an irresistible olfactory impact: right at the first line, the rich aroma of mellow-sweet strawberry jam suffuses the air you breathe. And while you’re still overwhelmed by this tantalising smell, inhaling it in great gulps, hints of refreshing elderberry are wafting their way from further on the right, which quite soon transpose into a savoury fragrance of apricots, triggering memories of carefree happy childhood days and Sundays in granny’s kitchen. Associations that are most definitely intended. Because Darbo uses only traditional recipes, ones that have existed in Austria for generations.

      Miniature jars: a Tyrolean idea conquers the world

      In all, nearly 50 per cent of Darbo’s production output is exported. The Austrian company supplies more than 60 different countries worldwide, chief among them Italy, Russia, China and the nations of North America and the Gulf region. The high proportion of exports is due primarily to a revolutionary idea that originated with Martin Darbo’s grandfather: to fill portion packs for the catering trade. Nowadays, the characteristic 28-gram miniature jars can be found in hotels and restaurants all around the globe. Much to the delight of Austrian holidaymakers, who find “their” jam in the most remote corners of the world.

      Joining forces with Krones for a perfect solution

      In its production operation, Darbo is keen to use technology that underlines their products’ natural purity. When it came to upsizing filling capacities, the firm accordingly opted for the Viscofill from Krones. The machine is the prototype of a new filler family developed specifically for viscous, thread-forming foods and those containing chunks. In terms of construction, it is a classical piston doser, which has, however, been beefed up by a number of sophisticated design advances, which enable it to effortlessly master the challenge of filling even hard-to-handle products, like jam containing large chunks or whole fruits, gently and without dripping – Viscofill puts them into their jars undamaged, without leaving behind any unattractive or unhygienic splashes of product on the neck finish. This makes Viscofill the ideal choice for meeting and mastering even the ultra-tough requirements posed by the premium Darbo jams, which look just as appetising and pristine after being filled than they did before.

      In terms of hygiene, too, Viscofill certainly lives up to expectations. Since the filler’s food and drive areas are hermetically separated from each other, there is no risk that product residues will penetrate into the machine. Like the filling function, cleaning of the Viscofill has also been automated, requiring no manual interventions whatsoever. For this purpose, the filler turret’s components automatically move away from each other until finally all parts coming into contact with the product are exposed. The transparent machine guarding enables the operator to watch the filler “dismantling itself”, so to speak. A tilted table trough made of stainless steel collects flushed-off product residues and cleaning media, and reliably removes everything via a central drain, thus keeping even the floor of the hall spotlessly clean.

      A prototypical encounter

      It’s possible that confidence in Krones’ newly developed filler also stems from the fact that Darbo had bought a prototype from Neutraubling once before, which has performed to their complete satisfaction. As it happens, a direct line neighbour of the Viscofill, a Taxomatic built in 1988, was also a prototype from Krones. Back then, it was developed for putting a coated-paper label over the jam jar’s lid like a piece of fabric. A quite-out-of-the-ordinary idea, highlighting the nostalgic charm of the Darbo jams to perfection. Adolf Darbo still remembers this project very well: “It took quite a while until we’d finally got the recalcitrant paper to remain stuck to the paraffin film applied to the lid, and not to bounce back up again like a sort of wobbly-man. But once we’d managed it, it’s been running without any problems for 25 years now!” The sophisticated dress on Darbo’s jams used to make people’s heads turn right from the start – meaning not just consumers’ heads in the shops – no, also the heads of the firm’s downright baffled competitors.

      Facts and figures on Darbo

      • Over 130 years of company history
      • Payroll of 300 at three Tyrolean facilities
      • 59.7 per cent market share in Austria
      • Exports go to more than 60 different countries
      • 117.2 million euros turnover in 2012
      • Fruit contents of up to 70 per cent in Darbo’s “Natural Purity” products
      • Jam range including over 20 flavours

      Viscofill – a brief portrait

      Being a food filler, the Viscofill represents an entirely new family of products in the Krones world. The piston doser is available in three different models, and can handle a wide variety of products, including jams, sauces, dairy products and baby food. Its speciality is gentle and accurate filling of products that contain large chunks, exhibit a high level of viscosity or form threads.

      Selected machines and solutions