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Today’s supermarket shelves attest to the ongoing need for an ever-greater variety of snack and bakery products, as stores are stocked with more single-serve, multipacks and family-sized bags. It’s a variety show on the foodservice side of the baking and snack business, too, as operators diversify their menus and embrace packaging that meets their needs for storage, preparation and serving.

Vertical form/fill/seal (v/f/f/s) machines are working hard and often overtime to keep pace with demand and to keep up with manufacturers’ expectations for speed and efficiency. Automated v/f/f/s machines are used for a range of packaged bakery and snack products, from big bags of cookies to pillow pouches of chips, as consumers continue to snack more and eat differently.

Kelly Meer, product manager, Bosch Packaging Technology, agreed that food manufacturers want to get the most out of their v/f/f/s systems as they produce packaged goods in different sizes, weights and shapes. “In today’s production environment, flexibility within the smallest footprint available is driving the baking and snack customers,” Mr. Meer said.

Mark Lozano, sales manager, TNA North America, echoed that trend and the resulting impact on the use of v/f/f/s systems. “The move to on-the-go snacking and smaller portion sizes has had a considerable impact on packaging processes as manufacturers need to package the same amount of product in more bags to retain similar levels of production volumes,” he said.

As they provide a greater variety of package sizes and formats, manufacturers also want to maximize their operations with v/f/f/s machines. “One of the main things our customers look for is greater line ­efficiency to help them increase production volumes and profitability,” Mr. Lozano added. “Food manufacturers today require packaging equipment that can get their products from factory to shelf as quickly as possible to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for snack products.”

Let's begin our tour through the world of v/f/f/s machinery.