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Robotics specialist Sewtec completes ‘six-figure packaging machine’ to launch new Tetley product line


Robotics specialist Sewtec has created a six-figure bespoke packaging machine for Tata Global Beverages, bringing a new Tetley fruit tea product line to market from its flagship UK plant.

Sewtec’s new technology has been installed in Tata Global Beverages’ largest factory across its global operations, located in Eaglescliffe, England. The plant operates 24 hours a day for five days a week, producing 260 million tea bags every week.

The Tetley brand – which operates across 40 countries worldwide and celebrates its 180th anniversary this year – is now able to pack 2,000 tea bags every minute with this new automated system.

Designed and manufactured by highly skilled engineers at robotics specialist Sewtec, the fully automated and bespoke machine was created to Tata Global Beverages’ exact specifications and will be used exclusively by the company.

The high-technology system erects and loads flip-top cartons at a rate of 120 per minute, filling each carton with a flow-wrapped bag containing 20 tea bags. The machine then performs quality control and collates multiple cartons into shelf-ready trays. The system’s flexible design means it can be swiftly and simply altered for other carton and product sizes.

India-headquartered beverage group Tata Global Beverages, which owns the Tetley brand, is the second largest tea company in the world. It has a turnover of £762m, employs more than 3,000 people across 40 countries and provides 330m servings of beverages worldwide every day.

Commenting on the new automation machine, Tata Global Beverages’ engineering manufacturing manager, John Bishop, says: “This has been a milestone 180th year for the Tetley brand. We continue to implement our successful strategy of entering new categories, energising product development and extending our global footprint in the tea segment.

“Automation is vital to our manufacturing process, now and in the future. We appointed Sewtec because of its outstanding reputation in delivering bespoke automated solutions for the beverage industry. Our machine has already enabled us to bring a new product to market and will allow us to work faster and more effectively from our state-of-the-art facility.”

Based in Dewsbury, England, Sewtec designs and manufactures factory automation systems for global blue-chip clients in the food and beverage industry. The company is also highly active within the pharmaceutical, personal care and tobacco industries, with more than 85 per cent of its sales being exports.

Sewtec managing director, Mark Cook, adds: “Tata Global Beverages is a world-leader in its sector and very mature in its use of automation. Establishing an efficient production process is crucial for any food and drink business, and this really is best achieved through a bespoke and automated approach. It’s very rewarding to have produced a highly effective solution which meets the company’s requirements and will underpin its ongoing success.”

Sewtec revealed last summer that it had a record £25 million order book, the highest the company has achieved since it was founded in 1982. This was driven by a wider transformational change in the business following a successful management buyout one year ago. Its strong performance means the company is on track to achieve its ambition of doubling turnover to £32 million by 2022.

Main picture: Sewtec managing director, Mark Cook, with Tata Global Beverages’ new Tetley fruit tea packaging machine.