The delicious new tomato sauces, from the start-up Tomamore, are already on the refrigerated shelves of southern Germany. WALDNER Process Systems managed the gentle cooking of the fresh produce, while the WALDNER DOSOMAT completed the packaging of the unusual containers, which created an all-around successful collaboration.
WALDNER Makes the Cooking Process and Packaging Possible
Tomamore GmbH is a start-up making inroads into the hotly contested ready meals market, scoring with its fresh ingredients and organic quality. Walter Stauß, Managing Director of the Ravensburg based company, relies on the processing of fresh goods and an industrial process, which comes very close to the way "Grandma prepared it in Sicily".
From DOSOMAT to Process Systems
The initial contact by Tomamore to Hermann WALDNER GmbH & Co. KG came through an inquiry about packaging with a DOSOMAT. However, it quickly became clear that WALDNER Process Systems might also be considered for the challenging production of the sauces. After many discussions, both divisions of WALDNER were awarded the order. Christian Heinzelmann, Packaging Technology / Design at WALDNER DOSOMAT reported, "We were awarded the order due to the fact that we maintain control of the specially shaped containers from the filling line through to the end of line packaging process, thereby ensuring a secure and efficient process workflow. Our proximity to the factory for support, service, and good straightforward communication were other factors important to Mr. Stauß. There was often a call and 3 hours later we were sitting down together and discussing the project on site."
In-depth engineering knowledge and commitment convinced the Managing Director about Process Systems as well: "There are no longer many manufacturers of batch cooking systems, and there are major quality differences between them. I quickly realized that there was a lot of "hot air" with the other providers. When I consider all the challenges we had to overcome to handle unforeseen problems and coordinate process workflows, the system would still be standing idle today. With WALDNER I immediately noticed that I was speaking to professionals, and that also turned out to be the case," confirms Walter Stauß.
Good team work
On the WALDNER side, a team of engineers from DOSOMAT and Process Systems quickly came together to jointly design the system. "This was an unusual case, as we had very little in the way of specification. Mr. Stauß had a goal, but it was not yet clear which approach would achieve it," reports Christian Heinzelmann from DOSOMAT. One thing was certain: the tomato sauce was to be filled into a triangular container with a round overall diameter. "While transporting the cups through the system, the containers were not allowed to rotate and needed to be held securely from filling to final packaging with the same orientation," explains Christian Heinzelmann. "Therefore, we developed a special cassette system to transport the containers throughout the process and keep them facing the same way. With Pick and Place units supporting the transfer from system to system, the containers always remain securely in position with the same orientation."
Cooked like Grandma made it….
Klaus Ohlinger of Process Systems adds: "The claim that it "tastes just like Grandma made it" is extremely important as it is always something very different when something is cooked on an industrial scale. "On an industrial scale, this means 2 tons per hour, approx. 6000 of the 350-gram containers per hour." It was also a challenge to implement the new concept from Italy where the onions and garlic are prepared separately, on one system, as it were essentially in a single container. "To achieve this, we developed equipment that first sautés the onions evenly until translucent and then adds the other ingredients after this frying process, and finally allows the entire mixture to cook together in a single container. That really is an innovation. Essentially an industrial-scale Thermo-mix," explains Klaus Ohlinger. There were a total of 3 of these "Giant Thermo- mixes".
Praise from the customer
The transition from the cooking to the filling and packaging system runs smoothly, thanks to the collaboration between the engineers. Klaus Ohlinger explains: "Because we are supplying everything from a single source, the systems have the same valves and pumps and are synchronized with each other. That provides the customer with major benefits when it comes to holding spare parts. We also have the same software for all machines that is networked together, which leads to ease of operation." Even the specially folded cartons for the containers come from a WALDNER machine. At the very last minute, Gerhard Heinzelmann, responsible at DOSOMAT for packaging, even came up with lids for these cartons.
"The customer, and hence also us, received the information that the cartons needed a lid very late. In a night session, we then developed a solution with our Managing Director, Mr. Karl Angele, and the customer to extend the system with an additional component," reports Gerhard Heinzelmann.
Karl Angele gets to the heart of things when he adds: "We often have a moving target. That is what makes our work so exciting." Walter Stauß is very satisfied: "Interventions, such as these show me to what extent I can rely on someone. Collaboration with WALDNER has always been good, regardless of how long and how exhausting the day sometimes was. The engineers and I, as the salesman, always worked together constructively and in a targeted manner."
A discussion with Walter Stauß, Managing Partner of Tomamore GmbH.
How did you come up with the idea of producing a tomato sauce for the chilled counter?
I once worked and was seriously committed as a Key Account Manager with the food corporation Mondeléz in Germany. I often had to fall back on ready meals, as I had no time for cooking, although I am passionate about it. I was anything but satisfied with the quality and taste of the products that I tried at that time and I also didn't tolerate them very well. I then tasted a delicious tomato sauce when I was on holiday in Sicily and I asked myself: Why can't I buy something like this as a ready meal in Germany? It was this that gave me the idea of making a good sauce, such as this, myself.
There are already many ready sauces. But what makes your tomato sauces unique?
Conventional mixtures are stirred cold and sugar is added as a flavor enhancer along with corn starch as a binder in addition to usually frozen ingredients. This mixture is then poured and cooked for 3 to 4 hours in the container. By contrast, our process corresponds to cooking the tomato sauce, as it is cooked by Grandma in Sicily: we only use fresh organic tomatoes of a particularly aromatic variety, cold-pressed olive oil and sea salt from Puglia. The fresh basil comes from Germany. And we take our time – no additives or sugar. That way we retain the full flavor.
However, the difference between Grandma's cooking pot and an industrial process is huge. How did you manage that?
Admittedly there is a major difference, and it also represented uncharted territory for WALDNER, as fresh ingredients and the frying of ingredients one after another on an industrial scale rarely or never actually happens. WALDNER engineers achieved this very well: we can now cook fresh product and immediately package it on this equipment.
What happened in detail?
I need to admit in advance that I enjoy cooking for a living and so set myself high standards. And I also place the same standards on my products. We started with nothing when the order was placed and initially provided the recipe. However, we quickly established that we needed a proprietary design of a stirrer for gentle cooking of the fresh products. There was simply a large number of very constructive meetings. The packaging process was also a challenge due to the unique shape of our containers. Mr. Angele and his team, a creative workshop and his experienced knowledge succeeded in finding good solutions.
You terminated your well-paid job and immediately set up a large production site. Is this not unusual for a startup?
Yes, there is no chance of getting a company of this size financed. You really have to be persuaded about the product, concept and your own skills. I left at the end of August 2014, and Tomamore was born in May 2015. No machine had been drawn at this time. The financing and subsidy from the state was clarified in the 3rd quarter of 2016. And when it became clear that WALDNER was capable of making my ideas into a reality, there was no longer a problem with the bank: the name WALDNER is synonymous with reliability and quality. The ground was broken in March 2017, and in June 2018 we supplied the first tomato sauces. We really pulled out all the stops."