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    Success is sweet
    Success is sweet

      The sugar market is a fiercely contested one.

      The sugar and ethanol factories of the TTD AG company (Thurn-Taxis Dobrovice) in Czechia have held their own on this market for 180 years now, not least because the firm has invariably reacted flexibly to changes in the retailing sector, by continually upgrading the technologies it is using.

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      It was more than 20 years ago that TTD AG had already singled out Krones as a reliable partner for innovative packing and palletising jobs. To pallet-stack 250 one-kilogram packets of sugar per minute using just a single palletiser – that was the stipulation for the present application. Krones was the only vendor able to guarantee this output.

      The farming of sugar beets, plus sugar production, can look back on a long tradition in Czechia. It was back in the 1820s and 1830s that the wave of sugar-manufactory foundations began in what was then Bohemia. Today, approximately three million tons of sugar beets are grown in the Czech Republic on an area of about 52,500 hectares. It is along the Elbe river and in Central Bohemia that the sugar-beet growing and sugar processing operations are concentrated. The biggest sugar factory not only in Czechia but in all of Central and Eastern Europe is situated in the small Central Bohemian town of Dobrovice. It is in Dobrovice Castle that TTD AG, who can look back on a long-standing tradition of sugar production, has its headquarters. Back in 1831, Karl Anselm von Thurn und Taxis had Dobrovice Castle converted into Bohemia’s biggest sugar factory. And ever since then, sugar has been produced uninterruptedly there.

      Quite recently, a second plant was erected here. This one, however, does not process the beets into sugar, but into ethanol. The TTD Group owns a total of five plants: in addition to the refinery in Dobrovice a factory in České Meziříčí also produces sugar, and another ethanol production plant is located in Chrudim. The production output from the refineries is packed in the packaging centre in Mělník.

      60 per cent of the Czech market

      The Czech sugar industry is one of the most sophisticated? in Europe – also and particularly in regard to its technical equipment. “Our company is the Number One on the Czech market”, says a proud Bohuslav Hart, the director of the sugar factory. “We supply more than 60 per cent of the total. The packaging centre in Mělník processes about 100,000 tons of sugar a year.” Which corresponds to roughly 50 per cent of TTD’s overall output. The products handled here are mainly one-kilogram packets of granulated sugar, plus icing sugar, sugar cubes, and sugar as such in a variety of packet sizes, from five grams upwards, five kilograms and 50 kilograms. Overall, the packaging centre handles a good 50 different types of product and employs 60 people, 50 of them directly in the production operation and 10 office staff. Depending on the season of year, the plant is operated in up to four shifts a day.

      Krones palletising solution starring the Modulpal

      In a separate section of the hall, the sugar is filled into one-kilogram packets, which are then sealed and passed on, standing up. A downstream device tips them over, so they continue their journey lying on their backs. And it is precisely at this juncture that the Krones kit comes into play. Conveyor belts take the sugar packets to the top floor of the adjoining hall, where they are passed in single file to the Linaglide distributor, which spaces them out onto two lanes for further transport to the grouping station. Two Robobox units align and position the packets in accordance with the preset layer pattern. In this way, twelve lanes are created, for example, each with five packets, totalling 60 packets of sugar per layer. In the meantime, everything is being prepared for the palletising operation. First of all, a carrier pallet is given a cardboard covering, featuring unglued and not-yet-erected side walls. The Modulpal palletiser from Krones fetches the layers and deposits them on the pallet. Bohuslav Hart is delighted with this holistically conceived solution from Krones, which was installed in the summer of 2010. At the present juncture, he can already say that the kit involved is second to none in terms of technological excellence. And he continues: “One of the principal arguments in favour of Krones was the fact that they were the only vendor able to offer a technical solution for this application, featuring just one palletiser for our entire packaging capacity of 250 one-kilogram packets a minute. We introduced this new technology in response to requests from the retailing chains. And we opted for the Krones company because of their excellent reputation, plus, of course, we’ve had our own Krones machines to our entire satisfaction for the past 20 years.”

      Layer pads made of film instead of cardboard

      One of the crucial innovations for this sugar-packet-palletising job in Mělník is that a piece of film (not cardboard) is placed between the individual product layers, using a freshly designed machine. Not only does this look nicer but it scores in terms of functionality as well: this film-type layer pad ensures good adhesion between the layers concerned, is more affordable than cardboard, and also requires less operator involvement, since one reel of film is enough for almost an entire shift. In addition, the film provides even better protection for the product – against any penetration of moisture, for example. 14 layers in all are stacked on the pallet, totalling 840 packets of sugar. To complete the packing sequence, the entire load is then stretch-wrapped with film, after which the pallets are ready for dispatch to the retailers. Most of the production output from the packaging centre in Mělník is destined for the Czech market. In addition, some of it goes to Slovakia and to the firm’s parent company in France.

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