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Cartoning options to suit food packing variety.

Cartoning Options to Suit Food Packing Variety

For every brand leader in packaged food products there are a dozen small to medium size producers. Some sell under their own names, others pack own labels for multiples, yet more are subcontractors to brand owners and some do a bit of all three.

Aside from commodity vegetables, liquids and semi liquids, the majority of processed foods are packed in cartons. The demands on the packaging systems supplier from the variety of end-user requirements are wide ranging.

Some food producers, particularly those in the USA, can start packing on a Monday morning and run one size of carton without interruption until the weekend, at speeds of 150 to 200 packs a minute. One manufacturer who does much the same thing in the UK is Tryton Foods of Hull who operates continuous flow lines dedicated to turning out frozen Yorkshire puddings by the million.

Two six-lane units deposit batter into individual foil trays which are continuously frozen in giant freezers with a capacity of 18,000 puddings. As they emerge, four flow-wrappers collate them into packs of six for cartoning at rates up to 150cpm by a fully automatic Bradlock SL300RB carton end-loader.

To handle the six-packs of frozen rolls, this unit employs a 'barrel loading' technique. The flow-wraps, singly or in pairs, are channelled smoothly and progressively into fast-moving open cartons which are then sealed automatically.

Even higher volume throughput is required by the Weetabix muesli brand leader, Alpen. Demand from the breakfast tables of Britain and Europe means the Alpen line must run 24hr a day during a three shift, five-day working week. To meet it, Weetabix installed a system specially developed for bagged cereals - the Bradlock SL300CP continuous motion horizontal cartoner with integrated bag conditioning and loading. It features a system of synchronised rotating 'bomb' doors which deposit filled bags into the pockets of the moving infeed conveyor.

Continuous operation calls for robust construction and mechanical reliability. Alpen's seven ingredients produce are abrasive and searching materials. For this testing environment, Bradman Lake build the SL300 cereal packer to rigorous standards, using zinc-plated and stainless steels throughout and a specially strengthened chassis.

They also offer the benefits of carton automation to the smallest food packer. The first step up from manual packaging is to mechanize carton closure. The Bradlok SL50 end flap sealer demonstrates how a modest degree of automation can bring a big increase in productivity. Cartons are erected and filled by hand, then conveyed through a closing section where the end flaps are ploughed down and glue-sealed simultaneously. No change parts are required to switch carton size; this flexibility, combined with very low capital cost, makes the SL50 ideal for product starts and market development work.

Many packers who do not require the output of fully automatic high speed systems employ semi automatic Bradlok cartoning machines in which the pockets are loaded by hand. With more than a hundred units installed in less than three years, the SL80 semi automatic end loader is Bradman Lake's top-selling machine. Key to its success is that it meets the demand of many packers whose line speeds are around 60cpm and who require rapid, repeatable size changeovers. This is often the case with frozen foods where SL80s are packing prawns and fish steaks, pies and pasties, burgers, pizzas, quiches, ready-meals and vegetarian dishes.

The SL machine range is designed to handle the end-load skillet-type of carton but many packaged food products make use of top-loaded 3-flap carton styles.

Bradman Lake are one of the very few carton system manufacturers to offer both end and top-load equipment. One who took full advantage of this versatility is Lowthers Cakes who recently completed a near 1m [pounds]. plant bakery at Aspull, near Wigan. They operate two Bradlok 2/60 tray erectors as well as a semi automatic SL80 end-load cartoning system. The first 2/60 erector was installed when they concentrated their production on traditional jam tarts in flow-wrapped open top trays. As demand grew, it was decided to expand production into deep fruit pies and invest in new plant. The SL80 was installed to carton the new pie range while a second 2/60 tray erector was acquired to cope with still-growing volumes of jam tarts.

For open top tray and carton forming, the 2/60 and HS2/60 lock erectors operate at speeds from 20 to 80cpm with single forming heads but output can be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled by simply fitting multiple forming heads.

For carton closing and sealing on topload lines, Bradman Lake introduced the FCC system of 'flexible carton control'. It is an innovation that has been adopted by customer's worldwide with no fewer than 27 top-load cartoning lines using the FCC system now in operation. The flexible carton control technique uses driven belt conveyors fitted with flexible rubber fingers to control 3-flap cartons through a hot melt gluing and closing sequence. Rubber fingers adapt to variations in product size, so often the cause of trouble on frozen food packaging lines.

By replacing timed infeeds and flighted chain drives, very fast size changes without change-parts can be precisely repeated time and again. Two machines featuring flexible carton control are now on the market-the 300cpm Bradlok FCC Triliner and the compact closer, for throughputs up to 60cpm.

FCC closers feature in Bradman Lake's latest carton machinery innovation. A new automatic handling system for flow-wrapped products combines the three operations of collation, pick and place loading, and carton closure in a single unit. It cuts labour costs by automating packing lines using different styles of top-load carton. Those with single tuck front flaps are closed by a wholly new machine but, for 3-flap sealed cartons, the line switches after loading into a high speed FCC Triliner closer. Changeovers can be effected in only ten minutes.

The first installation of the Bradlok pick and place system is a 750,000 [pounds] order for two entire packing lines. Each comprises two 2/60 erectors, two twin pick and place units and one FCC Triliner 3-flap closer. They tell us each line handles flow-wrapped packs at the speed of 575 packs a minute.

PHOTO : The Weetabix cereal packer fed by two weighers and two baggers

PHOTO : A Triliner at Freebooter Seafoods showing the twin-belt turning section between the rubber-fingered overhead conveyors which drive the line

PHOTO : The SL80 end-loader installed at Lowther Cakes
COPYRIGHT 1991 Food Trade Press Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:1067
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