Advances in heat seals have made for more reliable, faster machines. Source: Burford Corp.

Smaller, faster, stronger
Speed is a motivating factor on all processing lines. The faster a line can run, the more a company can sell.

“When speeds are increased, reliability becomes a bigger factor,” cautioned Mitch Lindsey, technical sales, Burford Corp.

For example, tamper evidence saw greater attention in 2017, and the requests for more tamper-evident options will grow in 2018, Mr. Lindsey said. To keep up with demand, Burford developed two options, a Tape Closure System (TCS) and a Tamper Evident Closure (TEC) system. The TCS secures packages using a metal-free closure at rates up to 70 bags per minute. The TEC features a non-contact heat-sealing method with patent-pending hot air flow that seals up to 100 bags per minute. Moreover, to address customers’ need for speed, Burford introduced upgrades for both the Servo and Smart Servo Twist Tyer machines. When used on larger flight spacing baggers, between 16 and 20 inches, the twist tyers enable bakers to have a higher output.

The trends toward flexibility and smaller sizes in packaging have driven suppliers to produce both flat and on-edge packages to provide different configurations. The PiCo machine from Cavanna provides the ability to run piles or stacks of cookies or biscuits in the same machine with an electronic changeover.

“By just going to the HMI, they can do either,” Mr. Kehrli said. “There is tremendous interest in that.”

He added that Cavanna’s approach to packaging doesn’t revolve around a flowwrapper or single piece of equipment, but that it’s an “all around” approach. The company looks at the product starting with ingredients all the way to how it is fed into the packaging equipment and tailors a solution.

But sometimes there are challenges in aligning expectations with reality. As bakers look to produce faster, smaller products, packaging has to work at even higher speeds to keep up with the oven.

“There’s a bit of a contradiction between the volume and the package sizes,” Mr. Kehrli said. “If you want smaller package sizes, the equipment has to run faster to get the same volume out. Then, you’ve got these cleaner, high-quality packages that have to run quite slowly compared to other packaging materials.”

Working with smaller, more fragile products makes it difficult to increase packaging speeds, but innovations in gentle automatic handling can help. Source: Cavanna Packaging

At interpack, Cavanna introduced the G41 robotic cartoning system. It features quick changeovers and an easy-to-format program with a reduced footprint and higher speeds. The system runs up to 80 rows, 620 packages and 98 cartons per minute.

TNA has taken stock in the fact that small, single-serve bags easily fit into consumers’ busy lifestyles and provide on-the-go convenience as snacks do not require cutlery, meal planning, refrigeration or cleanup.

“As an equipment manufacturer, it’s important that we deliver high-speed packaging systems that will help food manufacturers package the same amount of product into more bags and retain similar levels of production volumes,” Mr. Lozano said.

TNA’s vertical form/fill/seal systems are capable of speeds faster than 200 bags per minute. But it’s not enough to just aim for high speeds, Mr. Lozano said. TNA ensures that the equipment delivers effectiveness, a low reject rate, flexibility and ease of maintenance, operation and integration. The TNA Robag series of vertical f/f/s machines can handle gusseted, block bottom, canoe pack and quattro seal formats and provides ease-of-use when switching from one packaging style to another.

“The more flexible the packaging system, the less time is required to change production runs to accommodate different pack sizes or formats, resulting in minimum interruption to the production flow,” Mr. Lozano said. “This includes no mechanical adjustments when changing product or film, quick former changes, and a wide variety of jaw size configurations that enable full flexibility of bag size and format, film type and application on a single packaging system.”

Flexibility can mean multiple things on the packaging line. Machines need to handle a wide range of products but must also be able to package them in a wide variety of formats. A-B-C Packaging Machine Corp. offers a variety of options, including flexible bags, multipacks, cartons and rigid containers. The Model 436 case sealer provides interchangeable tape and adhesive sealing on one machine.

“The modular design of this case sealer allows snack packagers to easily switch from one sealing method to another without excessive downtime or the added expense of purchasing two machines,” said Bryan Sinicrope, vice-president of sales and marketing, A-B-C.

A-B-C’s case sealer has independent sealing modules for adhesive and tape sealing that are designed for quick changeover with “drop in” accessibility, Mr. Sinicrope added, allowing maintenance personnel to quickly make the switch from one method to another in less than 10 minutes.

As bakers look for ways to enable their packaging lines to be as streamlined as the rest of their line, suppliers are getting creative with automation for both secondary and primary packaging. Rob Thompson, southeast regional sales manager, BluePrint Automation (BPA), said BPA’s new cartoning equipment allows companies to reduce manual labor and increase efficiency. Introduced at Pack Expo Las Vegas, the horizontal Delta case packer with integrated case erector and close is one example of that. The vision system scans the incoming products, and their exact position and orientation is sent to the controls of the Delta Robot. The robot in turn takes the products and places them into the case.