The company, founded by Anthony Flynn and his mother, Ava Bise has transformed from a start-up in 2006 to a mid-sized co-packer providing brands with creative recipes and the packaging service and equipment needed to be successful.
Flynn said the YouBar journey is just beginning and is continuously expanding capacity.
Today it has partnered with Bosch to install an automated packing system at its facility in Los Angeles, US, to produce 100,000 bars on average per 8-hour shifts.
Flynn and his mother came up with the idea of YouBar after they started making healthy bars at home due to a lack of impressive alternatives on supermarket shelves.
The duo share a passion for healthy food and athletics and believed the market needed a “healthier” option so they came up with the idea of customizing recipes to fit individual preferences which appealed to many customers, including fitness club owners, personal coaches and celebrities.
“Starting out, YouBar hired eight employees who handcrafted the bars and wrapped them in wax paper. Later on, we packaged bars in pre-made pouches, and closed the open side of the pre-made pouch using a foot paddle sealer and shipped up to 100 hand-packed boxes of nutritious bars per day,” said Flynn.
“Due to an increase in demand we needed to meet capacity and started looking for a packaging machine supplier that could support the needs of our product.”
Pack 201 horizontal flow wrapper
Bosch initially installed an entry-level Pack 101 flow wrapper with speeds up to 150 bars per minute but by 2016, it was clear the company needed a fully automated line to grow the business further.
The Pack 101 flow wrapper is still in operation but YouBar now has an automated line with an extruder for producing the bars. Then the formed bars automatically feed via a 6-belt feeder to the Pack 201 horizontal flow wrapper for primary packaging.
As the bars exit the wrapper, they feed into a Presto top-load robot, which collates and picks select quantities of wrapped products and loads them into cartons formed by the Cobra carton erector.
Finally, the cartons are sealed and closed by a Doboy TSC-030 carton closer for secondary packaging.
Advantages of the automated system include extended capacity with an output of up to 300 products per minute; enhanced flexibility by accommodating a selection of film and reliability regardless if it is a 5,000 or 1,000,000 piece order.
Flynn added, protein bars can be a tricky product to package, but the system allows uninterrupted changeovers from one recipe to another, increasing the ease of overall operation and keeping planned production downtimes to a minimum.
It also ensures easy cleaning and reduces the risk of contamination of the bar formulas.
Bosch offered extended training for YouBar staff to understand how to best operate and maintain the equipment, optimizing production. As a result, it says production output doubled to 300 bars per minute and it is not yet running at its full capacity (425 bars per minute).
“With the new automated system, once we place the bar dough on the line, we are not touching the product anymore until it is boxed. It allows my staff to focus more on higher level tasks, like monitoring the equipment, rather than hand-loading boxes,” said Flynn.