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Tembo benefits from flexible and modular machine concept

Oct 12, 2020

What began in 1912 with the cigar factory De Olifant in Kampen in the Netherlands has now in 2020 developed into a globally active group comprising numerous companies. A whole range of different companies now operate throughout Europe under the group name Tembo. “Even though each company has its own core business, we like to use each other’s technology”, says engineer Danny Corjanus. And we like to contact SICK for that technology: “SICK is one of our preferred suppliers.”

Our packaging machine for dishwasher tabs is unique. When the packaging format changes, the manufacturer normally has to physically modify everything. This is not necessary with our flexible packaging machine.
Our packaging machine for dishwasher tabs is unique. When the packaging format changes, the manufacturer normally has to physically modify everything. This is not necessary with our flexible packaging machine.

The list of companies shown at www.tembo.eu is impressive. “The 15 companies and 1,200 employees belonging to the group are active in more than 10 countries - in particular in Europe. Our headquarters is still located in Kampen.” Several companies concentrate on the luxury foods and experience market: “De Olifant, for example, still manufactures cigars, and coffee, tea and specialties are available from De Eenhoorn.”

 

Machinery for manufacturing dishwasher tabs

The key area of business for Tembo is machine construction: “Originally, we focused mainly on machines for the tobacco market, however we have a much broader perspective now. Our company EME Engel, for example, produces machinery for the manufacture of liquid dishwasher tabs. From TDC, on the other hand, we supply the machine for packaging those tabs and also the machine that produces the bags for the packaging made of film.”

“These last two machines were developed in-house. Our packaging machine for dishwasher tabs is unique. When the packaging format changes, the manufacturer normally has to physically modify everything. This is not necessary with our flexible packaging machine. You specify the number of tabs per bag, and then continue right on.”

 

Assistance at the right time

Being an innovative group, Tembo likes to collaborate with partners that think the way they do. Corjanus: “I have been working here for ten years now and we have been collaborating with SICK throughout that time. SICK is truly a supplier to whom we have “awarded a crown”. We don’t just give out crowns just like that. We are interested in good sensors at good prices. And we don’t expect a representative to visit us every time, but when we call we do so for a reason. SICK understands that. Their employees respond quickly and visit us when necessary.”

Sometimes the help from SICK comes from an unexpected quarter too: “When we were developing the modular machine that packages dishwasher tabs we found ourselves facing a safety problem. A simple fencing with a few access doors was not adequate. Every module in the machine has an access door and these are located next to one another. For many safety switches, the mounting plate takes up too much space. It then overlaps with the neighboring door and prevents it from being opened. We are currently waiting for an e-mail from SICK regarding an elegant and slim safety solution. In response to my inquiry, that same week the colleague at SICK sent us a demo version of a safety switch from his testing and training center. That resolved it quickly for us.”

Besides distance sensors and photoelectric sensors, the modular machine is also jam packed with fork sensors for product detection.
Besides distance sensors and photoelectric sensors, the modular machine is also jam packed with fork sensors for product detection.

Standalone machines

With pride, Corjanus shows us the relevant machine in one of Tembo’s production halls. In the hall we see a shiny white, compactly laid out production line: “This line actually comprises around ten standalone machines. They are all connected to the main computer from which the entire installation can be controlled.”

“Each standalone machine performs one part of the process: This is where the tube is loaded and an inspection is performed, and that’s where we perform the work operation. The process on the main line is continuously repeated from the beginning in this manner until in the end you get a complete and high quality product.”

 

Sensor solutions from SICK on the machines

That SICK is the preferred supplier of Tembo is apparent from the number of SICK components they are using. Besides distance sensors and photoelectric sensors, the modular machine is also jam packed with fork sensors for product detection.

Corjanus: “We use Flexi Soft from SICK to protect the entire machine. The advantage of this safety system is that you can modularly construct the control system. The various base modules can all be connected with one another. And as soon as you add a new module for a new processing operation, you can commission it as part of the line with a simple teach-in. In this way, SICK is precisely building on the modular concept of our machine.

 

Flexible and modular design of the machines

Although the machine setup as we see it in the hall is almost ready for transport, the smart folks at Tembo are already looking for new extension options. “Thanks to its flexible and modular design, the machine can be expanded at any time with new innovations. It’s great that a preferred supplier like SICK is just as flexible as we are.”

“The 15 companies and 1,200 employees belonging to the group are active in more than 10 countries - in particular in Europe. Our headquarters is still located in Kampen.”
“The 15 companies and 1,200 employees belonging to the group are active in more than 10 countries - in particular in Europe. Our headquarters is still located in Kampen.”

The future for Tembo

As a forward-thinking group, Tembo is also venturing into new areas. Danny Corjanus: “Tembo Paper as a new member of the family. We produce paper straws here with which we intend to contribute to the fight against plastic waste. The associated machine was developed by our Luxembourg company Imatec, which is generally involved with the manufacturer of cigarette packaging and cigarette tubes. In addition to the paper straws themselves, we also want to supply our customers with the machines for manufacturing these straws.”

Green Products is another forward-thinking company within the Tembo Group. “Given our history as a manufacturer of cigarette machines, a customer asked us if we could manufacturer a kind of paper cigarette with fertile soil for cultivating young plants and seedlings. Even though this particular order didn’t eventuate, it did inspire us to further develop the idea. This has since led to a system that produces paper tubes for, amongst others, propagators and cultivators.”

 

Read more:

 Intelligent retrofit solution involving the Flexi Soft safety controller

Clean and safe: the real packaging challenge

The W16 and W26 product families a new generation of SICK photoelectric sensors

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SICK Sensor Blog

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