On the outskirts of the Dutch village of Duizel lie the administrative buildings and production halls of ATD Machinery B.V. It is here, in the buildings of the cigar manufacturer Royal Agio Cigars, that the machines which are supplied to cigar producers all over the world are built. The market leader for production facilities in the cigar industry relies on SICK as a partner “for the long run”.
“It’s true that this is a niche market and there isn’t a lot of competition, but we are definitely the market leader within our discipline,” says sales manager Roel Verschuren. ATD Machinery really capitalizes on its company motto – “For the long run”. Tonnie Visser, head of electrical engineering, explains the thinking behind the motto: “Not only do we provide machines with a long service life, we also strive to develop long-lasting partnerships with our customers and sales partners – like SICK, for example.”
Production from A to Z
A cigar is made up of a filler – loose tobacco leaves – wrapped in a binder (paper or leaf) which is in turn covered by a wrapper. ATD Machinery manufactures machines for all of these production stages, as well as for packaging and preparation for shipping all over the world. “One-stop shopping from A to Z,” is how Verschuren sums up this product portfolio.
Visser: “Stamping out the tobacco leaves for the binder and wrapper is the most work-intensive step in the production process. Although our bobbin machines are largely automated, each leaf still needs to be placed in the stamping die by hand. The machine then stamps out the binder or wrapper before placing it on what is known as a bobbin. The manual labor means slow production speeds, and it is therefore only carried out in low-wage countries such as Sri Lanka. As soon as the bobbin is filled with stamped-out tobacco leaves, it is frozen and shipped to production locations in Belgium.
Wrapped, cut, packaged, and ready for shipping
For the subsequent production steps, ATD Machinery supplies wrapping machines – which wrap the binder around the filler in the case of cigars made from 100% natural tobacco – and machines which roll the wrapper around the bunch in a spiral pattern. “It used to be possible to wrap a maximum of 50 to 70 cigars in a natural wrapper in a minute. With our new MID-S 100 machine, we can produce 100 double-length cigars per minute,” says Verschuren with a certain amount of pride. That means that we currently have the fastest machine of this type.”
Machines from ATD Machinery have an exceptionally long service life. The legislation regarding machine safety is subject to constant changes and sometimes needs updating. Visser: “The new machines are subject to strict health and safety directives anyway. But these directives didn’t apply to the older machines, which are less technically sophisticated. The wrapper overrolling machines are a good example.
Our customers have been using these machines for ten or twenty years on average. The inside of the machine used to be easily accessible to the operator. In conjunction with SICK, we have now developed a safety update for these machines in order to protect operators from this dangerous area. SICK MiniTwin safety light curtains are the key protagonists in this solution.”
The cutting and packaging machines ensure that the cigars are the right length and prepare them for shipping. Verschuren: “Our showpiece in the field of packaging is the ASP packaging machine for cigar boxes with a hinged lid. The machine opens the box, lines it with a piece of paper and places the cigars in, closes the lid, and stacks the boxes – and all at very high speeds. The ASP is also extremely flexible: It can be adapted to any cigar and packaging format in no time at all.”
Legally regulated conditions of sale
However, the production process does not end at the packaging stage. “In the cigar and cigarette industry, each country has its own laws and regulations,” explains Visser. “The range of tax stamps that have to be displayed on the packaging is so huge that cigar manufacturers prefer to use a universal packaging design, to which the relevant labels and tax stamps can be affixed later. We can offer machines which affix labels and excise stamps, wrap the products in cellophane, and even sort the boxes into sales displays. We also provide the necessary image-processing systems.” All of the machines can also be connected to each other to form a fully automated production line.
Partnership with SICK
Along with the safety light curtains from SICK, Visser also uses products from the blue SICK product family for the presence detection, such as the WTB4-3 miniatur photoelectric sensor and the WT150. “At ATD Machinery, we focus on high quality and we expect the same from our suppliers. What’s more, our machines are supplied to companies all over the world – from Asia to America. We have to be sure that the spare parts will be available everywhere too. As an international company, SICK can guarantee this level of availability. We have been working with SICK products for many years now. SICK appreciates having a partnership “for the long run” just as much as we do. We know what an asset we are to each other – in good times and bad. And we understand that a consultation doesn’t always have to result in an order straight away.”
- Product informationen: WTB4-3 miniatur photoelectric sensor, WT150 miniatur photoelectric sensor, MiniTwin safety light curtain
- Product portfolio: safety light curtains, Miniatur photoelectric sensors
- Customer information: ATD Machinery, Royal Agio Cigars
- All Articles: photoelectric sensors, safety light curtains