Revolution in the tobacco industry

Tobacco Heating Products (THP) are the most profound change to the tobacco industry, its products, processes and production methods since the development of the filter cigarette in the middle of the last century.

For decades, the tobacco industry continuously developed and refined its products, yet their essential structure remained the same. Innovations focused primarily on the area of the filter and variations in cigarette dimensions. Developments in production machines and processes focused on continuously optimizing quality, reducing tobacco consumption and increasing production.

 

Pressing ahead with the search for new solutions

 

Since the turn of the millennium, the World Health Organization (WHO) has increasingly targeted the health aspects of smoking. A growing number of restrictions and regulations have been imposed on the tobacco industry, and their impact is being felt. Since 2015, global cigarette sales have been in decline for the first time. This was a new situation for the cigarette industry, which was prompted to embark on a search for alternatives. The results included innovative developments such as IQOS – a Tobacco Heating Product (THP) launched in 2014. Manufacturers had already experimented with THP in the past but now, for the first time, consumer demand combined with the development of much more sophisticated products and thus revolutionized the industry.

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Given the strong demand for innovative products, our wide-ranging expertise from the Primary to the finished product is a decisive advantage.

Jörg Wittek

Executive Vice President Engineering at Hauni

THP know-how from Hauni

With an extensive portfolio of new and proven solutions, Hauni covers the entire process chain for THP production – from the Primary to the Secondary and logistics.

1. Primary for recon tobacco

 

Hauni offers a variety of processes for the reconstituted tobacco used in THP, from paper recon, to cast or rolled sheet, and granulate. "The various recon products have very different properties in terms of their chemical and physical consistency and their smoke characteristics", explains Jörg Wittek. "The choice of process depends on the product characteristics required by the customer. We can provide our customers with the appropriate Primary machines and services for all variants. Our recon production technology supports conventional recon as well as THP applications," says Wittek, noting that the most dynamic area is currently the very cost-effective rolled sheet segment. For example, Hauni’s subsidiary Garbuio has developed a pilot plant for recon based on extrusion and rolling technology that aims for exceptionally gentle drying and a very firm product

2. Base rodmaking

 

Hauni also supplies a wide range of technologies for THP base rod making. Currently, most recon rods based on fibre are produced using various plain maker solutions based on PROLAB, NANO or PROTOS machines. "However, our range also includes the newly developed Strip Cut Maker for THP-specific requirements in the tobacco sector," explains Wittek. "This machine uses a track of paper recon cut into narrow strips which can then be continuously formed into a rod for THP segments." The KDF 5RT, which manufactures perfectly round paper tubes in the non-tobacco segment, scores highly in THP production. "Filters in Tobacco Heating Products contain recess tubes that give the smoke space to cool. Recess tubes made on the KDF 5RT are generally suitable for all THP sticks available on the market", says Wittek.

Modular concepts, such as the MSM, are the perfect preparation for future THP refinements.

Jörg Wittek

Executive Vice President Engeering at Hauni

3. Pre-combining (optional)

 

For pre-combining the various THP filter segments, Hauni offers a variety of tried-and-tested multifilter makers, which can be integrated into THP production for manufacturing dual, triple, quadruple and quintuple filters. For example, the modular multifilter maker KDF 6MF LEAD is designed for the production of filters with up to four segments and is capable of manufacturing all the end products on markets today. Moreover, it is well-equipped to handle new products in the future. In addition, the proven KDF 5MF is suitable for the pre-combining of THP filter segments. The flexible multifilter maker produces dual, split dual, triple, recess and cavity filters at an output rate of up to 500 m/min.

4. Final combining

 

For final combining, manufacturers can use the newly developed MSM Multi Segment Maker as well as multifilter makers specially modified for THP production. "Using a combination of technologies from the PROTOS-M and KDF 5MF, we have created a maker with a flexible modular system that will revolutionize the THP market," explains Jörg Wittek. "Its modular principle has independent functions for combining up to five segments, tobacco rod forming, tipping, laser perforation, inspection, cut and turn. This not only allows it to manufacture extremely complex products – the MSM is also perfectly prepared for refining them in future."

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From the cigarette to THP

THP are sometimes extremely complex and differ in design from classic filter cigarettes. This has profound implications for production processes.

 

Paradigm shift needs new machines

 

THP not only taste and look different from classic cigarettes, they also function differently. The production processes differ, too. This creates completely new challenges for manufacturers and suppliers like Hauni. The highly volatile THP market is changing constantly – resulting in exceptionally rapid cycles for new products. Nobody may yet be able to predict their long-term success with any accuracy, but every single one of these products is determined to conquer new markets. Manufacturers have to adapt their marketing and production strategies quickly to keep up with changing demand. And their partners have to support them with new production solutions and services.

 

Investment security counts

 

Ideally, these new machines should offer a high degree of flexibility. "To achieve maximum investment security, we are using modular concepts that can be adapted quickly to new innovations – including the ideas we haven’t even imagined yet," says Jörg Wittek, Executive Vice President Engineering at Hauni. Due to the sheer range of new developments, the individual technologies are very individual. "There are hardly any ‘off-the-peg’ solutions in this young market. We are developing the solutions in partnership with our customers," says Wittek. "Depending on their requirements, we largely work with ready-to-use guidelines or ad-vise our customers when they begin the design process for their new products. In any case, we design the machines to function perfectly, even in a future production plant with currently unknown specifications."

 

Experience shortens time-to-market

 

In the extremely fast-moving THP market, there is no time for failed experiments and multi-year development phases for end products. Nor for the machines and processes required to manufacture them. "Unlike new developments in the field of classic cigarettes, changes to THP affect more than just the filter or diameter," explains Wittek. "We have to adapt the entire process chain, from the Primary to the finished product. Achieving seamless integration of the individual production steps to ensure smooth and efficient processes requires extremely experienced suppliers with excellent know-how in all areas." Hauni brings its profound expertise, among other things, to bear in its extensive consulting and technology services for THP. These offer support for both the products and the manufacturing processes.

 

Solutions from A to Z

 

With an extensive portfolio of proven machines and new products developed especially for THP, Hauni covers every THP production requirement from the Primary to logistics. This range of special logistics solutions tailored to THP production includes VENTIS – a highly flexible first-in first-out reservoir for linking makers and packers. In addition to traditional filter and cigarette boxes, VENTIS can also be used with boxes for special products, such as THP. These guarantee the best possible protection for very short products. The FILTROMAT-F features a new sending principle designed specifically for exceptionally heavy filters and is ideal for the new THP.

 

Revolutions change processes

 

The development of these products still has some way to go – that is in the nature of a revolution. At times of radical change, nobody can be certain which concepts will prevail in the long term and what further innovations lie in store. But we can be certain that time-to-market is currently the most important issue. "That changes the way we work as well. The current situation we have to work much faster than we do on new machines for long-established products," says Dr. Hans-Heinrich Müller, Head of Product Management Cigarette at Hauni. "We can only get faster if we adapt our internal workflows and cooperation with customers to these new conditions. So it’s full steam ahead for THP development."