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Automated wrapping reaps rewards

Hill Country Bakery LLC, San Antonio, TX, produces pound cakes, coffee cakes, crumble cakes, Danish, muffins, and snack bars for distribution to retail, foodservice, and convenience stores. The company runs three food manufacturing plants, a fully equipped product development lab, a 12,000 sq ft pilot plant, and a 55,000 sq ft frozen foods warehouse, all engineered with a focus on product quality and environmentally friendly operation.

Hill Country had been manually loading and wrapping its products. But with its growing business, the company was looking for ways to increase packaging speeds, improve packaging quality, avert product damage, and reduce labor costs. Automation of wrapping operations was the answer.

After due deliberation, Hill Country decided to install Eagle high-speed horizontal flow wrapping equipment from Delta Systems & Automation, Inc. The touchscreen controlled system incorporates no product/no wrap and no gap/no seal mechanisms, can accommodate various packaging film structures and package dimensions, and features easy wash-down design.

Steve O’Donnell, Managing Partner, Hill Country Bakery, notes, “We chose the Eagle for value and for its flexible performance features that will help us as we grow our product line. The system was recommended to us by another bakery with whom we do business. One of the areas that was especially attractive to us was the ability of the Delta Eagle to provide a one-stop-shop complete turnkey automated system for product delivery and wrapping.”

Unit installation began in early 2016. Currently, a total of five Eagles have been installed at Hill Country’s manufacturing plants. O’Donnell says, “The Delta staff was highly involved in these installations. They provided several training sessions for our operators, and they were present for the start-ups for each of our product runs.”

Bakery benefits
Right now, Hill Country is running multiple package sizes—from 6.25” x 4” to 9” x 6”—at speeds up to 300/min on each line. Packaging material structure, gauge, and suppliers are considered proprietary. None of the products is gas-packed for modified atmospheres. Shipping case packing is accomplished manually, and case coding is performed with equipment from Markem-Imaje.

O’Donnell concludes, “With the Delta Eagle equipment, we have been able to increase our packaging speeds, reduce product damage, and drive down labor costs.”