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Packaging innovation marks syrup's debut

The closure is user-friendly and the filling system is ultra-clean. Soon, an in-line labeler will maximize shelf impact by neatly aligning neck and body labels.

An innovative dispensing closure, a 20-station ultraclean rotary filler, and an in-line pressure-sensitive labeler are at the heart of a new product/package launch from Monin, the French maker of premium syrups used chiefly in bars and restaurants.

The new product is called Le Fruit de Monin. Monin produces it in several facilities around the world, including its facility in Clearwater, FL. In addition to being used by bartenders for a variety of fruit-based concoctions, this new puree is also used in restaurants and other foodservice institutions for smoothies or as a topping on ice cream.

The 43-mm custom-made closure is injection molded of polypropylene by Bericap . It permits rapid one-hand dispensing—a huge asset in the fast-paced bar scene—and closes automatically. Also very important, says Patrick Doheny, director of purchasing at Monin’s Florida facility, are its ergonomic advantages.

“It lets the foodservice worker easily and ergonomically dispense from the bottle, with only one hand, without having to open and close a cap,” says Doheny. “It really streamlines the operation.”

Because Monin wants a one-year shelf life on the product, it selected an ultraclean filling system, Model R20V10/720, from Serac. The rotary filler, which has a load cell on each of its 20 stations for accurate filling by weight, is part of a monoblock arrangement that includes a 10-station Serac capper. The cabinetry surrounding the filler/capper is overpressured with HEPA-filtered air to keep unwanted air-borne contamination to a minimum. Included in the filling cycle is a nitrogen gas flush that minimizes oxygen in the headspace and thus contributes to the one-year shelf life.

“We were introduced to Serac by a regional sales rep who operates here in Florida,” says Doheny. “He also recommended the induction sealer that we use on the line.” The sealer Doheny refers to is made by Enercon.

Doheny says the Monin plant in Malaysia also selected a similar Serac filler for its Le Fruit de Monin line, though the two selection processes were independent of each other right up to the very end.

“We were down to a choice between Serac and one other option when we learned that our Malaysian plant was going to use Serac,” says Doheny. “That certainly moved the process forward. Serac had already gotten into the early stages of building the machine for Malaysia, so that gave them a foundation we felt comfortable with.” The filler/capper eventually installed in Monin’s Florida plant went into operation in February.

Doheny says the Serac equipment has performed well. “Early on there were some issues with the 10-station capper because the cap is a pretty unusual shape,” he notes. “But they worked it all out and now it all runs beautifully.”

‘Piggyback’ arrangement

According to Doheny, Le Fruit de Monin has been well received. But until volume reaches a certain point, the filling operation “piggybacks” on an adjacent line that fills other Monin syrups. Unscrambling and case packing are the two key functions that are “borrowed” from the adjacent line when Le Fruit de Monin is being filled.

The 1-L high-density polyethylene bottles used for Le Fruit de Monin are supplied by Tricor Braun. They include a reoccurring theme seen in all of Monin’s containers: “cathedral windows” molded into the sidewalls just above the label.

L&N Label Co. provides the 2-mil, clear, biaxially oriented polypropylene labels, which are printed flexo in seven colors plus a UV-cured matte coating. As this issue goes to press, the neck and body labels are applied by an older machine that Doheny describes as “kind of a home-made machine that we dug out of nowhere and is in the process of being replaced.”

He says the label application wound up being a sizeable challenge.

“The neck label describes the product flavor. We want that copy to line up neatly with the body label. But most of the labeling machine builders we talked to were either reluctant to tackle such a task or said it would cost a lot of money to build such a machine. The one exception was InLine Labeling  who I met at Pack Expo in Chicago last year. They seemed reasonably sure they could meet our needs, so after Pack Expo I called them in for some conversations, and as it turned out they were able to deliver the machine we needed at a decent price.”

The labeler being installed at Monin is In-Line’s Model 2000-NR. Bottles enter on an infeed conveyor and are immediately captured between a pair of delrin rollers. Mounted on a loop-shaped track that propels them in the machine direction, the rollers spin freely. Label stock hits a peel plate and affixes itself to the bottle. When the bottle makes contact with the spin belt, the bottle spins between its delrin rollers and the label is smoothly wiped around it. Above the peel plate and applicator head used for the body label is another applicator head and peel plate for the neck label. Brushes wipe the neck label on smoothly as the bottle spins.

The key to getting the two labels aligned properly is In-Line’s use of Lenze-AC Tech  servo motors and stepper motors from Anaheim Automation . An encoder from Dynapar  governs the motors’ revolutions so accurately that the timing of the two labeling heads is perfectly synchronized.

Doheny says he looks forward to the arrival of the new labeler. One day, he adds, it will need to operate at speeds in the range of 200 bottles/min, and he’s confident that will not be a problem. “For now,” he adds “we’re more focused on getting this product off the ground,” says Doheny. “But it’s always good to look at where you want to be tomorrow.”

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