Barbados has many faces. Some recognize it as a top holiday destination, filled with sunny beaches and tropical weather. To music fans it is the birthplace of famous pop star Rihanna. The island is also the home base of West India Biscuit Company Limited (Wibisco), a 100-plus year-old company that brings its own distinct value to the island, its visitors and the locals.
Based in Bridgetown, Wibisco is one of the oldest established commercial bakeries in the Caribbean. With a long history of producing quality baked cookies and crackers (since the 1910), Wibisco has grown into one of the Caribbean’s most dynamic and successful companies. With a modern plant and approximately 250 employees, Wibisco has evolved into a world class operation and delivers its iconic sweet and salty products (like “Shirley Biscuits”, “Eclipse” and “Sodabix Crackers”) far beyond the Caribbean, for example to the U.S. or United Kingdom. Bosch Packaging Technology has helped Wibisco to grow its business over the past 30 years by providing reliable feeding and packaging equipment that has increased production output in a limited space, maximized efficiency and ensured high level of cleanability.
Finding the recipe for future growth
“Wibisco is a part of the Bermudez Group of Companies and we all use Bosch equipment. We deliberately chose Bosch because of the quality of service and machinery which they have provided to us over the years of our collaboration,” explains Delroy M. Walsh, operations manager at Wibisco. Wibisco currently has two complete horizontal packaging systems for crackers and cookies, including seven horizontal flow wrappers (HSS) that have been operating in the plant for more than 15 years. However, to keep up with the changing market demand for smaller sized packages, Wibisco needed to replace some of the older pieces of equipment. Additionally, Wibisco wanted to enter new market segments and needed to increase its production capacity.
“Our main challenge was that our packaging equipment was not able to process all products coming from the oven because the existing flow wrappers limited the overall production speed. Therefore, we had to stop the baking process and manually remove cookies from the line and put them into storage containers. These containers buffered the additional products until the packaging line was ready to wrap them. However, this process created another challenge for us. While we were busy with manually refeeding the buffered cookies into the packaging process, products were exposed to increased breakage which resulted in higher wastage volume and therefore increasing production costs,” explains Walsh. Luckily, Bosch was able to solve these issues by designing an integrated packaging system consisting of vibratory channels, two magazine feeders for stacking the products and two Pack 201 horizontal flow wrappers for primary packaging (both for single and multipacks). On top of that, once the products are loaded into the vibratory channels, the system can run automatically without employee intervention.
Clearing the path for success
Although increasing the production output of the line was a crucial element, the new feeding and packaging system from Bosch offers more benefits. It ensures maximum flexibility and fast changeovers to adjust the format and count of products per package. This way Wibisco can easily accommodate different types, formats and shapes (rectangular and round) of cookies on the same line. Once the products reach the magazine feeder via the vibratory channels, they are stacked and grouped into portions ranging from two to six cookies per package, which are then precisely wrapped and sealed by a Pack 201 flow wrapper, creating up to 400 packages per minute.
Additionally, the new packaging system is equipped with a “fill-detection” sensor, which monitors the products coming from the infeed into the flow wrapper. In case of potential jams, when the product is not transferred properly and blocks the transfer point from the vibratory channel into the magazine feeder, for example, the sensor is activated and the whole system (vibratory channel, magazine feeder and flow wrapper) is stopped. This is possible because the vibratory channels are manually loaded with penny-stacked products that come from the oven belt. The point where the cookies are erected moves back and acts as a buffer. This way the accumulation of products in the vibratory channel is prevented and the operators can easily remove the blockage, eliminating the risk of product waste and machine downtime. On top of that, if metal is detected in the package it is rejected without stopping the packaging process. To further support hygienic production, the entire line provides easy access to all elements, which ensures easy cleaning and maintenance.
Teaming up for future success
“As a result, the new packaging system allows us to increase our production output for smaller-sized packs by over 100 percent, while also offering robust performance under demanding 90-degree-Fahrenheit, humid climate conditions in our plant,” added Walsh: “Besides being able to rely on cutting edge technology, we are also very happy with the relationship with Bosch – when they visit our plant they feel like at home and vice versa. We built this trust over the years and enjoy having a strong partner at our side”.
With the extended capacity of their production, Wibisco has just started its journey and is continuously expanding capacity to win the hearts of global consumers. With the new horizontal packaging system from Bosch, the company can now significantly reduce downtime and product waste, while increasing the reliability, flexibility and efficiency of its production.
About Bosch Packaging Technology
Based in Waiblingen near Stuttgart, Germany, and employing 6,100 associates, the Bosch Packaging Technology division is one of the leading suppliers of process and packaging technology. At over 30 locations in more than 15 countries worldwide, a highly-qualified workforce develops and produces complete solutions for the pharmaceuticals, food, and confectionery industries. These solutions are complemented by a comprehensive after-sales service portfolio. A global service and sales network provides customers with local points of contact. For more information, please visit www.boschpackaging.com.