Norway is a land of coffee lovers. In fact, the average Norwegian consumes five cups of coffee daily, making it the second highest coffee-consuming country per capita in the world.1 In a land of coffee worshippers, quality must be exceptional. Solberg & Hansen, a premium coffee and tea importer located in Oslo, makes sure every coffee bean is roasted and packaged to perfection.
Founded in 18792, Solberg & Hansen purchases high-quality coffee beans directly from small, sustainable farms in South America and Africa. The company then roasts the beans and sells them wholesale and to private label companies, as well as retails coffee under its own brand. Previously, the company had been using two packaging machines to package beans in pre-made 250-g and 1-kg doy-style bags for more than a decade. Production speeds ranged from 12 to 20 bags per minute, which were enough to keep up with demand at that time.
However, in 2012, when the company won a contract to produce beans for a private label brand that was to be sold at 150 Swedish coffee bars, things changed. Like Norway, Sweden also has a robust coffee market. It is in the top ten list of per-capita coffee consumption.3 To meet the increased demand, Solberg & Hansen needed to quickly ramp up production. Thanks to the installation of a customized and integrated packaging line from Bosch Packaging Technology, Solberg & Hansen was able to increase productivity by 40 percent while providing high-quality packaging for its premium coffee beans.
Corporate Philosophy Built on Quality
Solberg & Hansen entered the coffee business at a time when premium coffee was gaining rapid popularity in Norway. Premium roasters were actively establishing exclusive relationships with growers. “When our company started, there was a huge demand for good coffee in Norway, almost like a high-quality revolution,” says Simo Kristidhi, roast master for Solberg & Hansen. In addition to being the technical guru in charge of coffee bean selection and roasting, Kristidhi plays an instrumental role in selecting the appropriate, most efficient production and packaging equipment.
Solberg & Hansen took the concept of high-quality coffee bean selection to the next level by purchasing beans from winners of the prestigious Cup of Excellence competition.4 Winning farmers are selected for exceptional quality and character of their coffee beans, and buyers bid for beans in auctions, guaranteeing that farmers receive prices well above the industry average. Solberg & Hansen continues this practice today, purchasing Cup of Excellence-winning beans from farms in Rwanda, Kenya, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Brazil.
Moving from Small- to Medium-Sized Operations
While Solberg & Hansen wanted to remain a specialty coffee manufacturer, after 15 years in business, it aspired to expand its operations by building its private label customer base. The company already had a large customer base in neighboring Sweden. Winning the coffee bar contract was a key milestone in the company’s strategy for the private label sector, and also made clear that its packaging operations, which included two custom-made machines, would not be adequate to meet new production demands. To boost production to the level required, Solberg & Hansen knew it needed to move to a vertical form, fill, and seal (VFFS) packaging platform. The company considered several manufacturers of vertical packaging solutions, ultimately choosing Bosch.
“I had worked previously with Bosch’s representatives in Scandinavia, and the established personal relationship was an important factor in our decision to purchase equipment from them for this project,” Kristidhi says. In addition, the parent company of Solberg & Hansen reported a high level of satisfaction using Bosch equipment, providing additional third-party validation.
Advantages of Fully-Integrated Coffee Packaging Line
After collaborating with Solberg & Hansen to identify its specific needs, Bosch recommended a line that incorporates several technologies and has the flexibility to produce four-corner sealed bags as well as standard stand-up bags. The line, which is used solely to package products for the new private label customer, includes the Bosch vertical bagger (PME 4001 BG). The bagger runs at speeds of 50 bags per minute for 250-, 340-, and 500-g bags with four-corner seals. It also produces 1-kg block-bottom bags at a rate of 45 bags per minute.
The vertical bagger offers an intermittent motion operation that enables long sealing times for air-tight bags which enhances product protection by preserving the aroma of the delicate beans. It is specifically designed for high-quality bagging of sensitive products, and a modular design makes retrofits easy and straightforward. In addition, one of the bagger’s key features is an open design concept that gives operators access to machine parts for quick changeovers and maintenance. Coupled with the easy-to-use Human Machine Interface (HMI), the PME bagger is user friendly.
To further enhance operational efficiency, Solberg & Hansen also purchased an integrated Bosch applicator (CVA 2000 VIS) to seal valves to the inside of packages. Bosch’s patented valve design as well as applicator technology helps ensure product quality. “A one-way valve is rather important for preserving coffee freshness,” Kristidhi says. “Without valves you would be selling footballs not coffee bags. Valves relieve the pressure that builds up inside the pack as coffee releases carbon dioxide, while also preventing oxygen from entering and affecting the aroma.” He adds that the integrated valve applicator from Bosch also creates a sealing seam that is barely visible, helping to optimize the bag’s appearance. Choosing an internal valve, rather than an external one, the package’s visual presentation was enhanced even further.
“The machine runs perfectly, it’s just amazing to have it,” Kristidhi says. “In addition, the intuitive help menu facilitates quick and easy solutions to resolve any problems that may appear.”
“At Solberg & Hansen, we strongly believe that the packaging should be just as high quality as the product inside,” emphasizes Kristidhi. “With Bosch, we have been able to make that happen.”
Kristidhi notes that his team took a holistic approach to the packaging process by purchasing a Bosch netweigher (FIW 4011K) and a checkweigher (KWI 5000). The netweigher provides one-step weighing using strain-gauge cell technology, which produces an exact weight. The KWI checkweigher performs an accurate weight and quality control check of products at the end of the packaging line, conforming to the requirements of the European Measuring Instruments Directive (2004/22/EC).
Kristidhi says the new packaging line has provided the operational improvements that Solberg & Hansen sought, while strengthening the coffee’s brands premium quality image. The service Bosch has provided has also been an additional selling point. “Installing a new coffee packaging line is always difficult, but Bosch made it easy. They’ve been very quick and professional, and that has helped us a lot. Bosch doesn’t just set up the machine and leave – they stay with us to make sure we are reaching our production goals.”
Based in Waiblingen near Stuttgart, Germany, and employing 5000 associates, the Bosch Packaging Technology division is one of the leading suppliers of process and packaging technology. It includes over 30 locations in more than 15 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.boschpackaging.com.
1 Source: Euromonitor International, May 2013, www.euromonitor.com/coffee-in-norway/report
2 Source: Dear coffee, I love you, May 2004, www.dearcoffeeiloveyou.com/solberg-hansen
3 Source: "Top-10 coffee drinking countries," GlobalPost, May 30, 2010, www.globalpost.com/dispatch/general/091221/top-10-coffee-drinking-countries
4 Source: Alliance for Coffee Excellence, www.allianceforcoffeeexcellence.org/en/cup-of-excellence
For related articles, news, and equipment reviews, visit our Packaging & Bagging Equipment Zone