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Born in Holland and embraced worldwide is Blueprint's `case' for case packing success.

Bob Prakken is well known for designing and perfecting automatic gravity-feed case packing systems that efficiently top-load flexible bags containing frozen foods and other products into shipping boxes. Since forming BluePrint Automation (BPA) in 1980, his Woerden, Holland-headquartered company has built and sold more than 2,000 such systems to customers throughout Europe, North America, Asia, Australia and elsewhere.

What is perhaps lesser known beyond the Benelux is that the BPA chairman also designed the first high-pressure steam peeler, equipment which the frozen french fry industry relies on to rapidly "explode" skin off potatoes in preparation for further processing. The Dutch government, well aware of Prakken's pioneering innovation in food engineering, honored him recently with the presentation of the prestigious Knight of the Order of the Dutch Lion award.

Among the first customers for steam-peeling equipment more than 30 years ago, when Prakken's inventive talents were on hire to another company, were two of the Netherlands' leading french fry producers. Not surprisingly, they were also the first buyers of BluePrint Automation's Modular Gravity Case Packer (MGC), a workhorse that takes finished, packaged product on its final journey off the production line.

Prakken told Quick Frozen Foods International that he got the idea for the MGC when visiting a potato processing factory in Holland and being told by the owner: "Here are the bags and the case. I don't want to change either, and I don't want to see fries on the floor."

The innovative inventor went to the drawing board shortly there-after, and the rest is history - chapters of which are still being written with the recent introduction of the fifth generation MGC packer, which boasts an increased throughput of 20 cases a minute. New industry regulations as well as increasing demand were factors in the latest version. The most important considerations were:

* HACCP-friendly design, making the unit easy to clean by offering optimal access to all areas through which product passes so as to forestall product buildup, and inclining the infeed conveyor to facilitate wash-down. Automatic cleaning is an option.

* Maintenance-friendly design, again stressing easy access to every part of the machine for service and repair. Entire modules can also be dismounted for service. But BluePrint Automation begins by using only highest-quality materials in order to minimize the need for servicing.

* New control platform, based on a Siemens S7 controller with two hardware options: a Siemens Industrial PC with S7-SoftPLC or a S7-300 series Siemens PLC. Either way, the client can set up a supervisory network for data acquisition and remote service. Application software, too, is designed for easy maintenance; the PC version can be equipped with a motion controller for coordinated servo control.

* Cosmetic design to turn the packing area into a thing of beauty. But this too has a practical side: because the entire bag flow is visible, the operator has an easier time of it. And a narrower design frees up more space between the packing lines for better access.

Even while introducing new features, however, the company has retained the best of the fourth generation MGCs -- the Autojust for two-minute changeovers, the patented Bomb Door belt system for fully-controlled bag overlap, a minimal bag drop and no bag/case flap touch, in-line bag transport for multi-row packing, and length and cross-wise packing with a turning belt system.

For clients in a hurry, the company also offers the Speed Packer VSP, which can process 150 bags a minute. It features in-line bag collation through a patent-pending lane divider, servo-driven functions and a U-shaped high speed case handling module. On demand customization is available.

Besides the Woerden home office and factory (Fax: 31-348-421-193), where Managing Director Paul R. van der Meulen is based, BPA has a plant at Colonial Heights, Virginia, USA (Fax: 1-804-526-8164), which is home for CEO Martin Prakken and President Mike Ganacoplos. There are also sales offices at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, UK (Fax: 44-1427-679099) and Victoria, Australia (Fax: 61-3-9710-1382).
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Title Annotation:BluePrint Automation Inc.
Comment:Born in Holland and embraced worldwide is Blueprint's `case' for case packing success.(BluePrint Automation Inc.)(Brief Article)
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Words:654
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