Bread bags: Always be closing
Selecting the right system goes beyond clips vs. ties, as bread and bun bakers must also consider the machines doing the closing.
BakingBusiness.com, Oct. 1, 2012
by Charlotte Atchley

When bakers choose how they want to close their bread and bun bags, many factors come into play. Because clips, twist ties and the equipment that applies them come in a package deal, a decision cannot be made without considering all of these variables.

When it comes to the closure itself, consumer preference, closure costs and bakers’ expectations — beyond closing the bag — all come into play. However, closures are inevitably tied to the equipment that applies them to the bread bags. Whatever closure a baker chooses will inform the choice of equipment and vice versa; therefore, bakers must also consider the equipment’s reliability, how it will fit on a production line and, of course, cost.

A closure for everyone

Clips and twist ties dominate the market for sealing bread and bun bags in North America. Mitch Lindsey, technical sales for Burford Corp., Maysville, OK, said the company sees some popularity in tape to close bread bags, but that trend seems confined to the UK.

With two distinct options, bakers need to take into account several variables when deciding which closure to use for securing their bread and bun bags.

“I think bakers look at all angles,” said Beth Radloff, marketing specialist, Bedford Industries, Worthington, MN. “There are many things taken into consideration from marketing to production to equipment to cost.”

Closures can offer much more than just a securely closed bread bag. Bedford and Kwik Lok Corp., Yakima, WA, both offer closure options to serve different needs. Bakers can print traceability information on and add promotional labels to Kwik Lok’s clips. Along with its conventional single-wire twist ties for bread and bun bags, Bedford provides biodegradable twist ties for bakers wanting a more environmentally friendly closure. Kwik Lok’s clips are recyclable and contain no metal for bakers who want to run metal detection after the bread bags are sealed or have customers who prefer metal-free closures.

With all this back-and-forth between clips and twist ties, bakers also make decisions based on the closure application equipment.

Productive, reliable machines

Closures and their applicators go hand in hand. Bakers need to consider which equipment will smoothly integrate into their operations and be the most reliable and productive. “You want to know which machine is more reliable and which machine gives the best closure,” Mr. Lindsey said. Burford’s automatic tyers ensure that the twist tie goes all the way around the bag with four or five twists for a secure closure.

To improve productivity, Burford’s Smart Servo Tyer can tie 100 bags per minute with 9-in. flight spacing. The tyer’s updated motors and encoders permit can maintain this speed, and, along with fewer moving parts, make the machine easier to maintain and more reliable, which, in turn, keeps the line moving. The servo tyer’s modular design allows components to be changed out easily and quickly.

Burford also offers a Package Detection System on its tyers. If a product comes to the tyer without a bag, the tyer and bagger shuts down, and an alarm alerts the operator of the situation before the product moves on to a robotic basket system or automated palletizer.

Downtime is expensive, so bakers need systems that aren’t going to break down on them. “They need a piece of equipment that will operate without interruptions in the line, particularly with these high-speed lines,” said Gary Ellington, regional sales manager for Kwik Lok. The company designed its latest high-speed machine, the Ultra 893 Bag Closing system, with this need in mind. While its standard machines apply closures at 80 bags per minute, the Ultra 893 hits rates of 100 bags per minute, relying on stepper motors to reach and maintain those speeds.

To minimize any maintenance issues, Kwik Lok equipped the Ultra 893 with built-in networking capability. This allows Kwik Lok to evaluate and diagnose problems from remote locations. Kwik Lok service technicians can also receive error messages, reset settings and provide additional support using this network. The network allows these technicians to get systems back up and running faster without the travel time of visiting the plant.

Kwik Lok made a standard mounting bracket for all its machines; therefore, if a system needs to be taken off the line for maintenance, another machine can easily take its place.

“You can have a replacement machine on that line in under 2 minutes, and that includes the time it takes to take the old machine off and put the new machine on,” Mr. Ellington said.

The changes Burford and Kwik Lok have made to their bag closure machines — faster, more reliable motors and easier-to-maintain parts — help ensure that these systems can keep up with high-speed bakery lines with little maintenance.