Compact machines get tea retail-ready

Anne Marie Mohan

January 29, 2014

4 Min Read
Compact machines get tea retail-ready


For 300 years, Twinings has been a leader in the blending of high-quality teas that today are enjoyed in more than 100 different countries around the world. Not content to rest on its laurels, the company constantly strives to innovate and create new beverages to meet consumer expectations and changing tastes. From everyday, traditional and specialty teas, to fruit and herbal infusions, aromatic teas, healthy green teas and iced teas, Twinings offers flavors and varieties to suit virtually any predilection.


Conscious not only of its end-users' preferences, Twinings also makes every effort to meet the requirements of its retail distributors, as is evidenced by the installation over the past two years of 15 new Europack tray formers/shrink wrappers from Bradman Lake Group ( at its tea-bag plant in North Shields, Tyneside, England. The machines are part of a $1.9-million-plus makeover of the plant's end-of-line packaging systems. The investment, which is the result of Twinings' in-depth evaluation of future market needs, provides the company with the capability to produce a full range of shelf-ready packaging options.

According to Twinings, supermarkets have been a major driver in the growth of shelf-ready packaging, as retailers attempt to cut the in-store costs of unpacking and shelf filling, maximize product display and reduce waste disposal. Before investing in new end-of-line packaging equipment, Twinings was supplying its retailers with bundles of shrink-wrapped cartons or cases of product, both of which had to be manually loaded onto the retail shelf, carton-by-carton.

One method of shelf-ready packaging now being requested by retailers of brand owners such as Twinings are shrink-wrapped trays of product that can be placed in their entirety onto the shelf once the film wrap is removed. While this format is not new, in the past, the brand owner determined the size of the tray according to their production capabilities. Today, retailers are setting the specifications, and these may vary from one supermarket chain to another. In addition, some smaller supermarkets still prefer receiving unsupported shrink-wrapped packs.


The all-in-one carton collation, tray-forming and shrink-wrapping system saves valuable floorspace.

In January 2005, Twinings installed two new Europack machines custom-designed by Bradman Lake to enable carton collation, tray forming and shrink wrapping of twin-face packs in one, compact unit (13.73x9.84 ft) that could work within Twinings limited floorspace.

"Two Europack machines proved the three-in-one machine design on shrink/tray twin-packs for our specialty tea range," says Twinings project engineering manager Keith Darroch. "Then, market demand switched once again to single-face packs, and we decided to invite tenders for a whole new end-of-line operation."

Eight machinery companies competed in an open tender, from which Twinings considered three: one German, one Italian and Bradman Lake. "On speed and performance, size, delivery to our time scale and cost, the Europack machines were the best," says Darroch.


Keith Darroch, Twinings project engineering manager, left, and Europack sales director, Ivan Reeve, hold two of the eight possible package formats.

To accommodate the products currently run at its North Shields plant as well as new product launches, Twinings has installed 15 Europack model RTSW machines with integral collating and tray-wraparound assemblies. The RTSW is a side-fed, fully automatic "Tight"-style wrapper. According to Bradman Lake, the Tight wrapper applies film to the product so that it just fits without applying any tension.

Since less film is applied, less heat energy is reportedly required to shrink the film. This, coupled with improvements in the shrink-tunnel design, has resulted in a smaller, more-efficient heat chamber, the company explains. In contrast, the company says, with conventional shrink wrappers, film is loosely applied around the product, and a large, high-energy shrink tunnel is required to shrink the film sufficiently to fit the product.

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Each RTSW machine at Twinings can collate cartons and produce tight film shrink wraps or can erect minimum-depth trays, load and shrink-wrap them in single- or twin-face packs at speeds up to 30/min. The machines are capable of producing eight possible carton collations, ranging from single-face, 1X4 to 2X6 twin shelf-ready formats. Changeovers, including changeparts for the tray-forming tool, take only 15 minutes, Bradman Lake reports.

Confirms Ivan J. Reeve, U.K. sales director of Bradman Lake Group, "The features of the RTSW that are particularly beneficial to Twinings are that the machines are very compact and needed to be so to be installed into existing floorspace where only a shrink-wrapper had previously operated. They are also very flexible in providing many packaging formats using quick but accurate size-changing features."

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