Over the years there have been continued calls from fruit packers for faster, more efficient tray sealing machines and now one UK company has come up with the technology to do this.
Packaging Automation has been in the business for close to 60 years and has a lot of experience in designing and manufacturing tray sealers.
Neil Ashton, Managing Director at the company said that 3-4 years ago machine manufacturers had reached the maximum of what could be achieved using the available technology.
“The only way to increase output would have been to go down the route of multiple lines, which has a whole lot of different issues and is labour intensive. We embarked on the Evolution-S journey 4 years ago, we saw a gap in the market and recognised the shortage of labour.
While visiting a trade show Neil saw machines using linear motor magnets, this technology could solve the problems of inaccuracies, inefficiencies and speed in tray sealing.
“By moving away from the traditional transfer arms, we could increase the speed by three times while still keeping the accuracy and stability. The Syncromotion technology positions the packs without them having to be stationary. Using this system there no need to change parts for different depths of packs, the operation is done at the push of a button with very little operator skill needed. It is very efficient and easy to set up.”
Another challenge faced was how to print the date codes on the film, they can only be printed at a certain speed and would slow down the process, using Syncroflow PA have managed to slow down the flow of the film through the printer to print more accurately without slowing down the whole line.
“We have what we believe is the fastest tray sealer in the world, with our last machine we did 140 ppm, the Evolution-S can do 250 ppm. The only way to achieve this before was by installing a double lane sealer where you need two of everything. Using feedback from a packer where the machine is installed, we are seeing a 25% reduction in costs when everything is taken into consideration.”
But Neil reckons one of the biggest advantages is that the system can handle any pack depth without any adjustments being made.
“In the UK a lot of the fruit is imported from other countries and the punnet depth can vary, with the old system this created a big problem if the correct adjustments to arm heights had not been made as the arms could not grip the punnets.”
The return on investment is always dependent on usage, but Neil said it should be achieved within a year and a half. People are still needed on the line, but they can be used much more efficiently now.
“Looking at all elements, we have proven that not only do we have the most advanced tray sealer, we also have the most market ready tray sealer.”