YouBar, a U.S. start-up company, delivers customized protein bar solutions with an automated feeding and packaging line from Syntegon. Read and watch about the result of this partnership.
With the growing consumption of healthy snacks in the U.S., there are many bar manufacturers offering tasty protein bars to satisfy consumers’ appetites. However, among all the companies producing nutrition bars, exists a specialized one – YouBar. Within the last few years, the family-run business has transformed from a start-up to a mid-sized co-packer focused on providing brands with creative recipe solutions and the packaging service and equipment needed to be successful.
A healthy start
The story of YouBar started around 2006 when founder and owner Anthony Flynn and his mother, Ava Bise, set out to make their own healthy bars at home due to a lack of impressive alternatives on supermarket shelves. Starting out, YouBar hired eight employees who handcrafted the bars and wrapped them in wax paper.
Their customer’s appetite, however, was constantly growing, and soon they started looking for a packaging machine supplier that could support the special needs of their unique product.
“When we were looking for a packaging supplier the name that kept coming up was Bosch (now Syntegon Technology). We then got introduced to Jim Neville the sales agent from Nevco Ltd. who, along with the rest of the its team, really took us under their wing and made us feel that we were an account that mattered, regardless of how small our company was at first”, recalls Flynn.
As a result, one of the first entry-level Pack 101 flow wrappers installed in the U.S. appeared in 2014 in YouBar’s kitchen in Los Angeles, CA. Although the machine offered a speed of up to 150 bars per minute, soon it became the bottleneck.
First steps into packaging automation
The success of the YouBar concept kept pushing their production to its limits and by 2016, it was clear the company needed a fully automated line to grow the business even further. Keeping in mind the challenges that YouBar is facing as a co-packer – including constantly changing volume of the production and the need to reduce changeover times to a minimum – the packaging line that was delivered ticks all of the customer’s boxes. The line starts with an extruder for producing the bars. Then the formed bars automatically feed via a 6-belt feeder to the Pack 201 horizontal flow wrapper for primary packaging. As the bars exit the wrapper, they feed into a Presto top-load robot, which collates and picks select quantities of wrapped products and loads them into cartons formed by the Cobra carton erector. Finally, the cartons are sealed and closed by the Doboy TSC-030 carton closer for secondary packaging.
The key benefits of the automated system include extended capacity by offering an output of up to 300 products per minute; enhanced flexibility by accommodating a wide selection of different film materials – and proven reliability, ensuring consistent results regardless if it is a 5,000 or a 1,000,000 piece order. Protein bars can be a tricky product to package, but the system allows uninterrupted changeovers from one recipe to another, increasing the ease of overall operation and keeping planned production downtimes to a minimum. Additionally, it also ensures easy cleaning and reduces the risk of contamination of the cutting edge bar formulas.
Clear path ahead
The story is not over yet – the YouBar brand is only starting its journey and continuously expanding capacity. Today they are producing 100,000 bars on average per 8-hour shifts. With our automated system, the company can now significantly reduce time and labor, while increasing the reliability, flexibility and efficiency of their production.
“Although the machines are a key to our success, the close relationship that we built over the years is the key reason why we are loyal to you. You helped us take the first step into automation and stood close to us throughout the process. It’s clear to me now that without you we wouldn’t be where we are today,” summarized Flynn.
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