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Achieving options and operations advantages

Dutch meat processor improves packaging efficiency and flexibility to meet growing, changing product demands.

vital versatility. The vertical flow-packer offers versatility to produce a broad range of bag widths and lengths.
vital versatility. The vertical flow-packer offers versatility to produce a broad range of bag widths and lengths.

Giebels Meat Products, Helmond, Holland, is a processor and packer of top-quality sausages, spare ribs, and ready-to-heat-and-eat packaged meals for the retail consumer market. The Helmond plant produces a total of 3군 kg per hour (about 7귔 lb)—including 1ꯠ kg per hour of sausages, 1겨 kg per hour of spare ribs, and 1겨 kg per hour of ready meals.

In 2005, Giebels recognized the expanding marketing opportunities in the ready-meals category and decided to invest in new packaging equipment to accommodate a line of bag-packed, frozen ready-meal products. The new product line includes chicken- and beef-based selections packaged in six different bag sizes to serve both consumer and foodservice markets.

Choosing the right equipment

For its previous heat-and-eat packaged meals, Giebels had been using a thermoform/fill/seal tray packaging system. But with the tray system, Giebels estimated that more than 20 packs per hour on average had either defects or weight inaccuracies. These incidents resulted in production interruptions and increased labor requirements to rectify the situation.

“We have virtually eliminated the packing defects and weight inaccuracies.”

For the new frozen line, the processor wanted to install a flexible, easy-changeover, cost-efficient bagging system. The company chose the SmartPacker SX400, a vertical flow-packaging machine, supplied by CFS (www.cfs.com), along with a multi-head weigher, supplied by Ishida Europe B.V. (www.ishidaeurope.com). A new SmartDate thermal transfer printer from Markem (www.markem.com) was installed to accommodate bag date-coding needs.

Giebels liked the extensive machinery portfolio offered by CFS, the supplier’s in-depth knowledge of packaging operations, as well as the fact that there was a CFS Technology Center located near the Helmond plant that could respond quickly to any questions or concerns associated with the machinery operation. With the CFS Technology Center at hand, Giebels had easy access to forming tubes of different dimensions for testing purposes to identify the best solution for its range of products.

Operating efficiency

The SmartPacker SX400 at Giebels is fed by proprietary roll-stock pre-printed, multi-layer film. The flat-bottom “Quatroseal” bags currently are formed, filled, and heat-sealed at speeds of approximately 35 bags per minute—meeting the meat company’s production goals. But the machine can run faster as Giebels’ production needs increase. The system can produce bag sizes from 80-400mm in width, and bag length also is variable.

Giebels reports that over the first 6 months of operation, the meat processor experienced vast efficiency improvements over the tray thermoformer system. Mart Kobussen, director of operations, says, “We are delighted with our investment. The new SmartPacker SX400 provides an excellent solution for packing our new product range. In addition, its flexible operation means that we can also use it for our previous product range. As a result, we do not need to use the thermoformer system, and we have virtually eliminated the packing defects and weight inaccuracies associated with it. We are now confident that we can complete our demanding production schedule on time, every time.”

“We are now confident that we can complete our demanding production schedule on time, every time.”

The vertical flow-packing equipment also has other advantages. Giebels’ production staff reports that it is easy to operate, maintain, and clean. Changeover to various bag sizes is quick and simple to achieve, giving the meat company the flexibility to satisfy future product and package requirements in a rapidly changing marketplace. CFS technical staffers continue to ensure that the equipment operates at maximum efficiency. And the finished bags provide excellent product protection and outstanding shelf appeal.

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