An artisan bakery experiencing substantial growth has the challenge of figuring out how to invest in technology to support that growth without impacting the quality of the product that has been key to its success. For Hudson Bread, North Bergen, NJ, one of those answers came in the form of Niverplast’s CombiPlast and VarioSeal packaging machines. 

Hudson Bread has been a supplier of artisan breads to restaurants, hotels, local cafes and other foodservice customers in the New York City and New Jersey area for more than 35 years. In 2005, the company moved into a 60,000 square-foot facility to accommodate the growth it was experiencing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hudson Bread decided to make the shift to include frozen bread to its portfolio to adapt to its customers’ changing needs. This new line required a new packaging solution. 

“We knew we had to keep up with the pace to offer the consistency and quantities needed, the volumes and everything that was expected of us, and that’s why our brand has developed,” said Ray Million, vice president of operations for Hudson Bread. “And because of this, we realized to reach further that the frozen artisan became another aspect in which we started to work on some years back, and that’s pretty much what took us to come to Niverplast.” 

First, the company needed to increase its capacity for automatic case erecting, bag inserting, product sorting, weighing, packing and automatic case/bag closing. Second, Hudson Bread needed the ability to ensure each box was packed with the correct weight and that the bag and box were sealed to ensure product integrity. To meet both of these needs, Niverplast recommended a combination of the CombiPlast, an automatic case erecting and bag inserting machine, and the VarioSeal, a machine that can automatically uncuff and seal lined boxes with the flexibility to adjust for different-sized boxes. 

Because of Hudson Bread’s wide variety of products, Niverplast also recommended a multi-station, semi-automatic packaging line. The CombiPlast builds the boxes and inserts the liner. These boxes are then transported by a box conveyor to the manual filling stations, where operators can fill the boxes by weight.

“By implementing a semi-automatic packaging line, it gave Hudson Bread the ability to fill by weight at each manual filling position,” said Stephane Vieira, sales engineering specialist and business development, Niverplast. “The Smart Technology weigh scale system assists operators by displaying the actual box weight when close to the final weight, allowing the operator to manually add the last couple pieces of bread to make sure each box has the correct weight.” 

Operators slide the filled boxes onto the automatic box transport systems that carry them to the VarioSeal machine for sealing. The VarioSeal double-checks the weight of each box via a checkweigher and then removes the air from the bag before sealing it. The use of smart technology increases efficiency while ensuring quality and reducing the number of operators required to run the packaging line in a multi-shift operation.   

It wasn’t just the equipment, however, that sold Hudson Bread on the Niverplast system. Mariusz Kolodziej, founder and chief executive officer of Hudson Bread, and Mr. Million traveled to Niverplast’s headquarters in Nijverdal, The Netherlands, and saw how the equipment was produced. Both were impressed by the company’s professionalism. 

“Everybody from designers to programmers to technicians were all interacting and interfacing, and we knew that was a company that really had a sound program,” Mr. Million said. 

It also spoke to Niverplast’s commitment to aftermarket services, which Mr. Kolodziej pointed out was also a priority. 

“The most important thing no matter what kind of equipment you buy — you can buy pretty much anything, but what comes after is the service,” he said. “This was the deciding factor that helped us decide to go with Niverplast: technical support and seamless resolving of problems, which sometimes occur by people who push the wrong button or whatever the situation is.”

The Niverplast installation was in addition to other new equipment installs covered in the April 2022 issue of Baking & Snack and took about two weeks in total. After one week of training, the line was up and running.