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Putting the WOW into packaging one of Britain’s best loved biscuits

With some of the best-loved brands in the industry, snack food pioneer United Biscuits is synonymous with biscuit manufacturing. It operates factories across the UK that delivers goods which have long grown to become national treasures. 


It is clear that when United Biscuits was looking to test new packaging technology for this flagship product, expectations were high. For more than 30 years, roll wrap lines had dutifully packaged the delicate cakes at the manufacturers primary plant in Manchester. With retailers and consumers increasingly demanding flexible, smaller and unique pack styles and formats, legacy production facilities were struggling to keep up with changing market needs. Producing standard McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes in both slug and pile configurations in packages of twelve or other format counts of limited edition flavors required regular and fast changeovers. The new solution had to deliver speedy format changes, keep downtime at a minimum and maximize the existing layout space. Moreover, the technology would have to satisfy United Biscuits’ strict requirements with regards to gentle handling to ensure optimum product quality.

A first in flexibility

While evaluating different solutions to find the right match for the challenge, United Biscuits was captivated by the launch of the Two-in-One biscuit packaging system by Bosch at Interpack in 2014. The system is the first one in the world capable of fast pack style changeovers from slug to pile packs in less than three minutes.

Gentle, fast and versatile

Working actively with United Biscuits, Bosch quickly realized that to implement the Two-in-One biscuit system in the McVitie’s production process also required a new way of feeding products into the machine: The field test runs needed to be integrated into the ongoing production without interruption – which meant a dual role for the feeder system. As a result, a feeder was developed, which could serve the existing packaging line, but also be linked up with the Two-in-One System. “In the initial stages of the field test, we assessed the ability to package multiple product piles as well as slug packages,” said Simon Breckenfield, Strategic Capability Controller at United Biscuits. “We found that the very fast changeovers we saw at Interpack actually could be translated into the industrial environment.”

Instrumental to the system’s speed and flexibility is the customized state-of-the-art feeding technology that transports the Jaffa Cakes into the horizontal flow wrapper. The system uses the same feeding components for fully reproducible changeovers without the need to change parts, allowing for different pack styles, shapes, sizes and counts to be packaged on the same line. It is the only one of its kind capable of changing the pack pile configurations in record time – no matter if 1,2,3,4,5 or more biscuits are required, pile packs with a maximum height of 50 millimeters (about two inches) are possible.The line is part of Bosch’s Seamless Systems’ portfolio of packaging solutions designed to eliminate bottlenecks, minimize downtime and optimize production flow.

The most common form of McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes are round, 54 mm in diameter and have three layers: a Genoise sponge biscuit, a layer of orange flavored jelly and a coating of chocolate. Of course, with a product as sensitive as this, gentle handling was another key criterion on the list of priorities. Breckenfield explains: “One of the things that really attracted us to the Two-in-One biscuit system was that our philosophy of gentle product handling that minimizes product damage was carried through in the technology. The product is handled on the flat, with very little contact right up until the point where the stack is built into the final packaging format. We believe this will offer a significant improvement in terms of product quality. It allows you to handle even difficult and fragile products safely and gently.”

Happy. Easy. Wow.

As the field test drew to a close, Breckenfield expressed confidence about the impact the system could have on United Biscuits’ business: “We now have a solution that is allowing us to replace all of the roll wrap installations. It has been a very successful project which has allowed us to take our productivity and flexibility to the next level. It delivered the route-to-market solution our commercial team has been pushing for. We believe, with the Two-in-One biscuit system, we have a system capable of packaging almost any biscuit imaginable and a solution for many of the problems facing us in our business going forward.”

“In short, we can sum up Bosch’s system in three words:

1. Happy: the people who work on it – engineers, operators – love it.

2. Easy: Even when taking in 100 percent of the throughput of product range, the system does not seem to be sweating or straining

3. Wow: Because having been with the business for 36 years I have never seen a machine that is capable of what Bosch’s system can do with such panache”

Currently, 2.9 million Jaffa Cakes are produced in the UK every day, or 750 million over a year – and their popularity is as high as ever. With the Two-in-One biscuit system, United Biscuits has laid the foundations for a modernized, flexible and efficient environment, for a competitive and happy future.





Daniel Bossel, Product Manager
Phone: +41 58 674-7311

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