Product is gravity-fed from one floor above the filling equipment. On
this particular Marchesini line, powder drops into the infeed hopper of
a Model MS 235 intermittent-motion vertical form/fill/seal machine.
The equipment is designed to follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). Size changes are made through easily accessible areas. Brushless motors are used for the master and machine drive, film pulling, and film cutting functions.
The lower portion of the machine body includes a three-phase Siemens motor and vacuum pump source and is designed to be easy to clean. Any machine parts that come in contact with product are made from stainless steel or other Food and Drug Administration-approved material, according to Marchesini.
Powder is fed down through a ceiling-level hopper into the sachets, or pouches, six at a time. Film comes in roll form from various companies. The machine automatically unwinds the film and vertical sealing plates use a combination of heat, pressure, and time to create side seals. As film continues to unwind towards the filling area, expiration date and lot number are printed onto six areas of the web, for each pouch. Sealing jaws seal the top of the previous six filled pouches simultaneously as they seal the bottoms of the next six pouches. Knives separate the packs.
The MS 235 uses a Marchesini Group-patented dosing unit that uses independent screw feeders to help with powders that do not easily flow.
A robotic pick-and-place unit picks up the six filled and sealed pouches, placing two pouches each into three lanes where the pouches are conveyed past bar-code readers that scan insert information and pouches, which are both automatically placed into an outer paperboard carton on a Marchesini Square C MA 50 intermittent-motion horizontal cartoning machine.
Once the readers detect product, an oscillating arm with suction cups takes a carton blank from the machine’s magazine, then opens or pre-breaks the carton and transfers it to a belt transport system. The sachets are conveyed along the cartoner infeed, with a pusher moving product and literature into the carton, whose ends are heat-sealed. Cartons then are conveyed to downstream case packing, palletizing, and distribution steps.