How Enstrom Increased Production With Cavanna’s Automated Horizontal Flow Wrappers

Enstrom Candies, a beloved toffee and confectionery family business based out of Grand Junction, Colorado, needed help streamlining their candy production. Their current system was proving to be inefficient and wasteful, so their team needed a solution that could cut back on labor costs and increase production.

Read on to discover how Enstrom elevated their product by selecting a Cavanna Zero 5 horizontal flow wrapper.

The Limitations of a Manually Fed Packaging Machine

Enstrom was producing about 1,000 pounds of toffee an hour, including their famous .5 ounce almond toffee petites and their .75 ounce almond toffee singles. This level of output was proving too much for their outdated machinery to handle.

For starters, up to 12 people were needed to move the packaging line along, manually feeding the toffee singles into the machine for hours on end. Since the machine was only capable of wrapping about 200 toffee pieces per minute, the team needed to stack the toffees by hand in order to keep up with the packaging line. This work was tedious for the employees and unnecessarily costly to Enstrom.

In addition to the slow, intensive labor the former machine required, the heat-sealing component proved to be a wasteful mechanism. It would often melt the product in its packaging or on the packaging line itself, leaving behind residue on the equipment. The level of heat produced by the equipment would warp the packaging and lead to a large percentage of the product being thrown out.

The process of feeding the machine, the product waste and the high labor costs were beginning to add up for Enstrom. They needed a sleeker, smarter solution — and that’s where the Cavanna 5 Horizontal Flow Wrapper came in.

Speed and Flexibility: How Cavanna Equipment Made a Difference

The Enstrom team selected Cavanna’s Zero 5 Flow Wrapper for its efficiency and customizable speeds.

“The whole system, which is some 75 feet long, is just a marvel to watch, because now we can wrap all of the toffee pieces coming out of the cooking line without touching them,” says Doug Simons, president of Enstrom Candies. “The Cavanna really lets us wrap continuously without having to stop the machine, and we’re not stacking products up.”

Enstrom installed the Cavanna flow wrapper into the continuous cooking system. So, as the toffees would travel from the cooking system’s cooling tunnel along a conveyor belt, the candies would be diverted, allowing some of the pieces to move to another packaging line so they can be packaged in another format such as bulk packaging.

Toffees enter a chicaning area and are guided by rails and belts into a zig-zagging motion to help sort them into a single-file line. They then move into an infeed conveyor, where photoelectric eyes scan the products to automatically communicate with the upstream equipment whether things need to be slowed down or sped up.

“It tells the belt to either accelerate or decelerate. So those belts are constantly moving faster, slower, faster, slower,” says Bill Kehrli, VP of sales and marketing at Cavanna Packaging USA. “So that way you don’t have that ‘I Love Lucy’ effect where everything bunches up.”

The infeed conveyor separates toffees from each other and pushes the candies into the wrapper in the forming area. Then, another photoelectric eye inspects the candies for length, width, and height. If a product is found defective, an air nozzle blows it off the belt and into a chute.

Finally, the conveyor moves the remaining toffees to a forming area, where the packaging begins. The machine draws the polypropylene film from a reel mounted above the conveyor and forms it around a folding box to create a tube. As the conveyor moves, the lugs push the candies through the box and into a tube. A series of rollers close the seam with a fin seal.

Achieving New Levels of Production

What did this new machinery accomplish for Enstrom? Having to manually feed the machine and stack toffees was no longer needed. Additionally, the former heat wrapping system was replaced by a cold seal to reduce product loss, packaging waste and line stoppages. Now, the candies no longer melt or leave behind messy residue on the conveyor. Cold sealing also allows the flow wrapper to run at variable speeds to accommodate any volume of product moving along the system. Ultimately, the Cavanna Zero 5 meant a 60-70% decrease in product and packaging loss for Enstrom Candies.

“The consistency of the product has improved. The sealing of the packaging process is much more consistent,” Simons said. “We have a lot less film loss from bad seal tangle ups, melted product, or the film getting caught up in the machine. We’re much more efficient in the usage of the packaging. It doesn’t destroy as much packaging as the hand-fed system did”

Increased throughput and lower labor costs were achieved as well, according to Simons. The packaging equipment can now wrap about 700 pieces of almond toffee petites per minute and 500 pieces of the toffee singles. Labor costs were brought down by 90% — “There’s less human activity to get the product wrapped because we don’t have 10 or 12 people around the line moving product and hand loading the machine. The reason those people were there is because we had to stage and stack up product that was coming off the cooking line because the previous packaging equipment couldn’t handle it” Simons says.

Cavanna’s equipment proved to be such a valuable addition to the team that Enstrom plans to add another Cavanna Zero 5 Flow Wrapper to scale up their production.

“The best feature is the speed,” says Doug Simons Jr., vp of manufacturing for Enstrom. “It’s taking it to the point where we don’t have to have human hands on it. It goes straight through. Hands down, the best part of the machine.”