The first thoughts that typically come to mind when considering the Republic of Costa Rica are either the beautiful beaches or its natural rainforest and wildlife resources. However, this country in Central America offers so much more than just a perfect holiday destination. It is, for example, the headquarters of the leading cookie producer in the region, Pozuelo Cookie Company, a subsidiary of Nutresa Group S.A., which has been delivering an array of sweets and confectionery to regional markets since 1919.
One of Nutresa’s core strengths is the group’s long experience in the local market as well as its focus on creating the best products possible for Central America’s sweet-toothed consumers. These values are reinforced by Pozuelo each day with its nearly 100 years of expertise. However, four years ago, the company realized the rapidly growing market along with difficult climate conditions would require it to enhance its packaging line while increasing its productivity to maintain its strong position in the market.
Cookie poses unique challenge
The quest for increasing productivity started in 2013, when Pozuelo set out on a search for new solutions that would improve the output of its Chiky biscuit product line. The cookie company’s famous Chiky biscuits, which are coated in chocolate on the bottom, are extremely popular among consumers in the region. However, while it is that layer of chocolate that in part gives the cookie its distinct look and flavor, it also posed a unique packaging challenge for the biscuit manufacturer.
Due to the hot and humid climate of Costa Rica, there was a risk that the chocolate covering the biscuit could melt. Allowing the biscuits the proper time to cool down after baking and prior to enrobing was an issue, not only because of the high temperatures in Pozuelo’s facility, but also because of the tight factory footprint.
Other concerns for the company were finding the right packaging supplier to meet both its budgetary and quality needs as well as deliver the solution within a time frame of just a few months. “Money is key in this region, and as a leading cookie manufacturer, we wanted the best technology for the best price in the shortest time frame,” says Santiago Builes Maya, Director of Operations at Pozuelo. “These were requirements that we knew would be difficult to manage without potentially compromising on quality—which we could not afford.”
All these factors drove the company to seek an all-in-one solution provider that could work with them to deliver a custom line suited to its specific requirements.
After witnessing the success of an earlier partnership between its sister brand in Colombia and Bosch Packaging Technology, the cookie producer turned to Bosch for a solution. “We were looking for a supplier that could meet all of our integration needs as well as one that offered all of the technologies on our list. Knowing Bosch’s work in the past, we were confident in an overall successful outcome,” says Builes.
Right from the start, integration of the equipment was a key goal for Pozuelo, and Bosch was able to provide a high-quality, custom-fit solution that matched the cookie manufacturer’s budget and needs. The new line for the Chiky cookies included a belt conveyor system from Rotzinger AG, a Bosh CKG 1300 cooling tunnel, and two Bosch Pack201 HS horizontal flow wrappers.
The conveyor system transports the biscuits from Pozuelo’s oven to an existing enrober, which is where the biscuits receive their distinctive chocolate bottom. Following the enrober, the cooling tunnel ensures the proper tempering of the product before they are penny stacked, or shingled, and loaded manually into magazine feeders. These feeders present the product to the wrapper in a systematic way that positions the chocolate side of the cookies away from the packaging film. Capable of handling multiple product sizes, the Pack 201 HS can be changed over in approximately 20 minutes.
In addition to providing the appropriate technologies for Pozuelo’s needs, another important piece in the decision-making process was the human factor. To this end, Nelson Morera, Bosch’s Sales Representative in Central America, and Rebeca Long, Latin American Sales Manager, were hands-on throughout the integration process. “Both became familiar with our needs and truly knew us,” Builes notes. “They provided consultation and guidance to our team through the decision process, enabling us to have the new line’s details outlined and articulated in a way that made logical sense and was beneficial.”
Bosch worked closely with the Pozuelo team to ensure that the entire system was installed and integrated within their time frame. The new solution from Bosch enabled the company to achieve production goals with less labor costs and, consequently, to reallocate resources to more advanced tasks. Prior to purchasing the equipment, the company first involved its line staff in the process, so that employees would understand and support the upcoming changes.
Sweet smell of success
“At first, we were slightly concerned about the scope of the adjustment. However, working with Bosch, we were able to increase our productivity simply and easily, without compromising the quality of our product. With the equipment’s ergonomic design, we were able to optimize the working environment for our employees. The accessibility of the equipment makes it easier for quick changeovers and maintenance. Add to these features its underlying reliability, and we’re extremely satisfied with the end result,” says Builes.
A few years into production, Pozuelo has been running the new line providing 25% more capacity and more productivity than ever before.
“We look forward to future cooperation with Bosch,” Builes remarks. “We’ve seen quality results on our existing line and look forward to expanding further with automated technologies.”