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Bulk-packed Craisins pick up the pace

As demand for its sweetened dried cranberries in 10- and 25-lb boxes continued to increase, Ocean Spray responded with a brand new bag-in-box line.
A 10-bucket combination scale feeds a steady supply of sweetened dried cranberries to each waiting case (inset).A 10-bucket combination scale feeds a steady supply of sweetened dried cranberries to each waiting case (inset).Roll-fed, gussetted bags are now inserted automatically. Uncuffing (inset) is also done by machine.Roll-fed, gussetted bags are now inserted automatically. Uncuffing (inset) is also done by machine.An automatic case taper is the final piece of equipment in the u-shaped line.Ocean Spray engineers selected this case erector largely for its ability to handle rugged, triple-wall corrugated.

Cereal marketers muffin makers and other large food processors have taken a real shine to Ocean Spray Craisins® sweetened dried cranberries lately. So much so that the bulk packaging line used for years by Lakeville MA-based Ocean Spray to pack these tasty morsels had to be upgraded and automated. Manual insertion of bags into boxes and the use of an outdated filler and old case taper just couldn’t keep pace any longer.

The new line installed at Ocean Spray’s Tomah WI plant packs Craisins in 10- and 25-lb boxes. (For a related story on the controls package that governs the line see Packaging World Oct. ’00 p. 66 or go/ospray.) Speeds are up sharply. Before the new equipment went in 25-lb boxes were packed at about 5/min and four operators were required. Now just two operators run the same size box at 15/min. Frequently the line runs around the clock so when it came to machine selection a certain kind of supplier was squarely in mind.

“We looked for suppliers whose equipment is durable enough to function in a 24/7 world” says Dave Frenz senior process engineer.

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Among the more obvious differences between the new line and the old is the filler a 10-bucket Ishida combination scale from Heat & Control (Hayward CA). It replaces a simple in-line filler that weighed the entire contents of a box in one go and then dropped the contents into the box.

“With our old filler we were lucky to be less than a half pound over our target on the 25-lb box” says Frenz. “Now we’re consistently within six grams. The filler paid for itself in about five months.”

Sophisticated conveying

Ahead of the filler is a complex but efficient system of conveying from Key Technologies (Walla Walla WA). It takes the Craisins through sorting grading slicing and drying processes before depositing finished product on an incline conveyor leading to the packaging equipment.

“The product changes forms several times in its life and becomes increasingly difficult to handle as it gets stickier and tackier” says Bob Lowder senior project engineer at Ocean Spray. “Key did a great job of helping us get it to the packaging area.” Ocean Spray was so impressed with Key’s performance that management named Key its 2000 Supplier of the Year in the capitol equipment category.

Emerging from the drier a Key belt conveyor takes fruit to an overhead level. There a pneumatic gating device sends fruit down one of two Key vibratory conveyors. One leads to the Ishida combination scale on the bulk line the other leads to two horizontal form/fill/seal pouching systems from Klöckner (Sarasota FL). Depending on marketplace requirements Ocean Spray can direct product to any one packaging machine or to all three at once.


On the bag-in-box side the Craisins move through a bulk-and-dribble vibration process until they tumble onto the dispersion cone of the Ishida scale. The product fans out to 10 weigh buckets and the automated system selects which combination of buckets to dump as well as how many dumps are needed to fill a c