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A better handling bag

Performance Seed’s 10- and 20-lb bags of bird food have added an ergonomically designed handle in the bag corner to improve carrying and pouring. The patent-pending feature is heat sealed and die cut on customized hf/f/s equipment.

The bag's ergonomic handle (above) is produced on hf/f/s equipment (left) by a relocated and reoriented applicator (top).
The bag's ergonomic handle (above) is produced on hf/f/s equipment (left) by a relocated and reoriented applicator (top).

Several packaging developments were seen at the recent National Hardware Show held in August at Chicago’s McCormick Place. One of the more notable was a packager’s concept for an easier-to-handle and pour bag. Assisted by a machinery manufacturer that concept was turned into a commercial reality earlier this year.

Performance Seed St. Cloud MN took a do-it-yourself approach in adding functionality to its 10- and 20-lb bags of its premium feed for birds. Company president Sheldon Sturgis felt it would be advantageous to relocate the carrying handle from the bottom center to the bottom corner.

“This makes the bag easier to carry by moving its center of gravity down through the center of the bag” he explains. “It also makes it easier to tilt and pour the contents.” The handle is located within the bag perimeter.

Helps graphics too

The company calls this development the Hoist & Pour™ Bag. A major side benefit for the seed packer is that having the handle in this area does not interfere with bag graphics which feature a large printed stripe that runs down the center of the bag Sturgis notes. Horizontal form/fill/seal machinery manufacturer Hamer LLC (Minneapolis MN) engineered the development.

The bags are formed from 4-mil polyethylene rollstock on a Hamer Model 2080 hf/f/s machine installed earlier this year. Flexo-printed in six to eight colors the centerfolded film is transported through the machine by 5/8’’-wide transfer belts; film positioning is determined by a photoeye reading a preprinted registration mark. The machine is operated by a programmable logic controller.

The handle is made by an optional 6’’-wide x 40’’-long x 24’’-high applicator from Hamer. The applicator is located right before the web is heat sealed and cut into individual bags. The applicator system also includes an unwind and tensioner for the handle film. For this application the handle location in the bag corner and its vertical rather than horizontal orientation is unique Hamer says. Hamer adds that the handle’s location at the bag bottom rather than the top is also unique.

Having the handle in the bag’s bottom corner also means that the bag must be inverted when carried or poured. This is done so that when stacked at retail consumers can grab a bag by the handle while the printed copy and graphics appear right side up Sturgis explains.

To form the handle a piece of 8-mil PE film from rollstock is cut from a roll applied and heat sealed to the folded film corner and die cut through the center of this area.

The company buys the centerfolded and handle film rolls from several sources.

Produces 18 bags/min

Compressed air cools the handle before the side seals are made. The bags are filled one-up by a 3-head combination scale and chute. The bags are top-sealed via hot air and released from the machine. The bags are produced at a rate of about 18 bags/min.

The seed packer also uses the machine to fill 4- 5- and 50-lb bags without the handle. Due to filler limitations those bags can be produced at a maximum speed of 25 bags/min rather than the machine’s 30 bags/min capability.

The company was poised to upgrade another Hamer Model 2080 machine with the Hoist & Pour applicator in September. “Our current customers are asking for the feature” notes Sturgis. The company has a third Hamer 2080 machine. “We’ll probably add a third Hoist & Pour applicator sometime” adds Sturgis.

The Hoist & Pour bags were introduced in February for the company’s eight-item line of Nature’s Beauty brand products; a second line of six products Nature’s Own was converting to the handled bags in September. Currently Home Depot carries the products. A 10-lb bag of the bird food retails for $2.99 a 20-lb bag for $3.99. Sturgis has filed for a patent on the Hoist & Pour development.

See sidebar to this article: Goo Gone gets a grip


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