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Tea packing is shaken but not stirred

Finlays, reportedly the UK’s largest private label tea packer, is using a Schubert automated system featuring a robot programmed to shake out and evenly distribute teabags in their cartons during the packaging process.

The TLM rapid packing line comprises 10 2-axis robots including one specially designed for the “gentle” shaking process. The system, at Finlays’ South Elmsall tea packing facility near Doncaster, is packaging five different pack sizes containing 80-240 bags fed from teabag machines at 8,000/min.

Cartons are erected from flat blanks and transported to the machine’s central loading operation for filling. The boxes are then closed with attached inner and outer lids. The system is configured to process a variety of pack sizes, so changeover sizes are “extremely quick” and the line can be re-set “in minutes”.

Operations director Steve Copley says: “Our previous packing method was governed by three fixed formats, with no means to change from one to another. Crews had to move from line to line, creating difficulties in building teams.”

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Finlays’ Schubert tea packing system features a robot that shakes out and evenly distributes teabags in cartons during the packaging process