Twinings tea is one of the UK’s best known brands, having retailed products continuously for the past three hundred years. The company now markets a range of speciality and luxury teas including herbal teas, green teas and its classical blended offerings English Breakfast, Assam, Prince of Wales, Traditional Afternoon, Organic English Breakfast and Decaffeinated Traditional English.

The company also started to market a range of luxury tinned coffees and hot chocolate in 2006–2007. One of the main difficulties with tea packaging, where much of the speciality product is now sold as plain or tagged teabags, is the protection of the integrity and freshness of the product in the card box in which it is sold, to achieve maximum shelf life.

Experimentation with inner aluminised barrier wrap has occurred in tea packaging, as has the use of specialty card canisters and tins, but the mainstay of tea wrapping is plastic overwrap produced from BOPP (biaxially oriented polypropylene film) with a tear-tape opening feature.

Packaging upgrade

In 2006 Twining and Company Ltd was in the midst of a key upgrade at its Chinese and Newcastle, UK facilities. The company was releasing new products and increasing output at its facilities.

The expansion involved the installation of several new teabag machines and seven new overwrapping machines. Three overwrappers were installed in China and four in Newcastle, and these were supplied by Marden Edwards of Dorset, UK.

The new packaging lines are now being used to pack Twinings’ range of flavoured teas in various carton sizes and formats to ensure that the products present the correct image. Twinings Healthy Teas (Green Tea, White Tea, Moment of Calm, Fresh & Fruity, Revive & Revitalise) are packed on these lines and were given a new packaging design in March 2008.

This was designed by the Vibrandt design agency of Windsor, UK, and the carton blanks for packs of 20 teabags were litho printed by Chesapeake in Bradford with a matt varnish.

Overwrappers

Twinings required overwrappers to produce a high-quality tight wrap incorporating a tear tape and that could handle 90 cartons a minute. Marden Edwards was able to offer a machine from its existing range that met the requirements.

The machines supplied were the Series 4LXH, which have the ability to handle a range of carton sizes at the speeds required. The 4LXH can handle 300 cartons per minute; it requires little maintenance, has the ability to use printed film overwrap with pack registration for graphics and barcodes, it can carry out base- or leading-edge sealing, collating and multi-packing is possible, and the machine can carry out sealing using heat, cold glue or hot melt.

“Twinings required overwrappers to produce a high-quality tight wrap.”

The machines are versatile and featured modular construction, which enabled them to fit in to the new production lines without difficulty and even provide scope for future expansion. The setup was easily accomplished by the engineering team at Twinings along with Marden Edwards engineers.

The 4LXH has PLC control and a full diagnostic screen for setting up new runs in different pack sizes, adjusting faults and correcting rejects. The 4LXH is also able to use a wide variety of overwrap material, such as the new compostable and biodegradable wrap produced from polylactic acid (PLA), which is likely to make in-roads into the BOPP market as consumers demand more environmentally friendly packaging.

For Twinings another big problem was the level of support available for the equipment, and Marden Edwards has engineers covering the UK and agents in China.