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Article | March 31, 1997
J.R. Simplot weighs accuracy's advantages
Revamped lines and switch to bags trigger savings
Checkweighing wasn't the only operation upgraded recently at Simplot's Caldwell ID plant. The firm also switched from paperboard cartons to paper bags formed and filled from rollstock. Martin Greenbank Simplot's packaging maintenance manager describes the former filling process: "We were volumetrically filling frozen fries into individual cartons by running the cartons under a waterfall of french fries. The fries dropped about two inches on about a 45-degree angle into the cartons. We needed two people to set-up the carton blanks. We also had people making sure the fries were dropping correctly and checking for excess spillage or product breakage. And we needed another person to check to make sure the cartons were sealed properly." Greenbank says that the switch to bags is saving Simplot millions of dollars annually in materials costs though more specific figures were not divulged. Besides the reduced material costs he says "There are substantial labor savings." Much of the savings is attributable to the intermittent-motion vertical form/fill/seal equipment supplied by Robert Bosch (S. Plainfield NJ). Four of Bosch's SVB 3601L machines operate in each of Simplot's three french fry/hash brown lines. Rather than manually setting up cartons Simplot uses the vf/f/s machines to fill product into bags that are formed from TitePak® rollstock supplied by James River (Milford OH). The unbleached kraft bags are coated one side with a polyolefin coextrusion. The material is also perforated to allow excess air to vent out of the bag. The SVB 3601L vf/f/s machines use a microprocessor-controlled unwind to feed rollstock to the forming tube. After the machine makes the fin and bottom seals product descends into the tube from combination scales overhead. Subsequently the machine cross-seals the top of the bag forming the bottom of the next bag. The new equipment has greatly boosted the Caldwell plant's efficiency enabling it to reach its 30 lb/hr objective much more regularly than before.
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