Sealing the Deal
Form/fill/seal systems provide greater speed and versatility and allow bakers and snack producers to make products that meet the latest in consumer trends.
So what’s the big deal with today’s consumers? Small packages are huge. Anything that’s convenient is large. Everything that’s single-serve hits a nerve when it comes to the snacking occasion.
As a result, instead of producing loads of 1-lb. bags of chips, snack producers more likely are cranking out cases of 1-oz. packs that each hold a neat 100 calories of product inside.
“Definitely, trends such as grab-and-go and portion control are impacting the industry,” notes Sandy Diaz, marketing coordinator for TNA North America, Coppell, Texas.
Inside the plant, such trends are putting additional pressure on packaging departments across the nation. The need for speed has become bigger than life for cookie, cracker, candy and snack manufacturers, and many companies are running their vertical form/fill/seal (V/F/F/S) systems at top speeds as they race against the clock to keep up with market demands.
Fortunately, today’s systems are keeping up with the pace. Five years ago, the typical high-speed bagger could crank out upward of 150 packs a minute, says Mark Lozano, TNA’s national sales manager. Now, he adds, it’s not unusual for some systems to package products such as candy at rates of more than 200 bags of minute.
Moreover, snack producers are distributing their products to a wide variety of alternate channels, each with their distinctive packaging demands.
Salted nuts, for example, might come in a tube pack at the checkout counter at a supermarket, says Jeffrey Almond, snack food industry manager, packaging systems division for Heat and Control, Inc., Hayward, Calif. Variety packs are proliferating at mass merchandisers and wholesale clubs. Today’s consumers even can buy a bag of pretzels with their hammer and nails at the local hardware store, Almond notes.
At the same time, he adds, even non-traditional products such as veggie chips and fruit snacks are competing in a big way with conventional salted snacks.
“The definition of the snack food industry continues to broaden,” Almond explains.
In addition to speed, Diaz says that many bakers and snack producers are demanding that their V/F/F/S systems have the versatility to quickly changeover from a variety of packaging formats, ranging from the standard pillow pack to Quattro packs, or bags sealed on all four sides.
Likewise, premium products such as organic tortilla chips often command a higher price point and require upscale packaging that is putting new demands on V/F/F/S systems, says Matthew Lanfrankie, director of sales North America for Masipack North America, LLC, based in Lakeland, Fla.
Product development also has accelerated. Previously, new products might have taken up to 12 months to go from concept to market. Now, companies have condensed the product development time to four months or less. Packaging systems have to be versatile, but also adapt to new formats and sizes as they become popular with consumers.
“More than anything, what I’m seeing is the need to develop and get products to market as quickly as possible,” Lanfrankie notes. “Someone else may have the same idea, so being first to market is critical.”
Up to 250 Bags a Minute
Package snacks faster with a lower life-cycle cost, less film and reduced product waste using Ishida’s versatile Atlas 122 vertical form/fill/seal bagmaker. According to Heat and Control, the system makes bags from 3 in. to 9 in. wide and up to 21 in. long. Its patented film-loading system requires no manual centering and includes a vacuum splice plate for quick changeovers. Automatic film tracking, registration and unwind controls and Ishida’s patented servo-controlled pull-down belt and rotary back seal systems reduce downtime and waste.
Versatile and Ultra-Fast
Masipack N.A. introduces its “Ultra-Fast” model, an all Allen Bradley-controlled, servo-driven vertical form/fill/seal machine. The system is designed specifically for salted snack manufacturers and can produce up to 160 pieces per minute. The D-motion jaw assembly allows food companies to use a wide variety of film structures.
Flexibility with Speed
TNA’s rotary triple jaw provides a single-purpose, high-speed vertical form/fill/seal system running small bags at up to 250 bags per minute, while coasting at an easy 84 cycles/minute. This rotary triple jaw runs five bag formats including, pillow, Quattro, block bottom, doyen, and a flexible can. TNA’s flexibility, along with speed and reliability, results in a realized return on investment for customers. Go to www.TNAsolutions.com
for more information.
Auto-Bake’s easy-to-navigate Web site is a first “port of call” for bakers across the world looking for more information on continuous baking systems and the latest systems from the company. The comprehensive menu takes visitors on a guided tour of Auto-Bake’s continues baking technology, including everything from Serpentine proofing, baking and cooling to automated depanning, washing systems, in-feed integration and lots more.
Dunbar Systems Inc.
To safely and reliably identify defects and foreign objects in your products, check out the Heat and Control’s new IX-GA Series X-ray inspection system. The model can detect metal and non-metallic materials such as glass and plastics, even through aluminum oil or on pans. The setup is automatic, and no routine calibration is required. Moreover, the waterproof conveyor can be easily removed without using tools.
Heat and Control Inc.
TCP Reliable introduces urethane-insulted shippers, which provide outstanding low-heat conductivity. The light-weight shippers are ideal for multiple shipments and can be used in both summer and winter conditions.
The Model M563 popcorn ball maker by A.C. Horn/Cantrell International can make up to 80 pieces per minute. The stainless steel system also has been upgraded with a PLC and servo-motor drive. The hopper comes with internal heaters and agitators, and forming cups are made with food grade polyethylene UHMW.
A.C. Horn & Co./Cantrell International
BluePrint: Leader of the Snack Pack
When it comes to packaging, top snack producers turn to BluePrint Automation. The Colonial Heights, Va.-based company supplies equipment to a number of top industry players, including Shearer’s Foods, Inc., Brewster, Ohio.
Prior to purchasing new systems from BluePrint, Shearer’s used manual case-packaging/erecting, which took two or more people per line to operate. Moreover, they only could handle 105-110 small 1- to 3-oz. bags per minute.
Not any more. Shearer’s now uses BluePrint’s automatic case packing equipment to hande 125 bags per minutes. It also uses an empty/full case handling system to reduce case traffic. These changes have helped Shearer’s to reduce its labor costs, increase its speed and efficiency, and improve plant safety because there is less congestion and improved plant cleanliness, according to Steve Surmay, senior vice president of operations for Shearer’s.
No wonder BluePrint is the leader of the snack pack.