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Packaging Machines for the Dairy Industry

Dairy, Eggs, Cheese, Butter

DairyA large chunk of UK Dairy produce finds its way into supermarkets. The margins achieved by Farmers and re-sellers / manufacturers are wafer thin. Dairy products can be specialised niche products or volume produced for the mass market. Both areas call for consistency of product, traceability and packing methodologies that are quick, economic and reliable.

Investing in end of line packaging machinery helps to facilitate the packing process. Keeps it simple and repeatable for different products, and is very cost effective. Payback on investment can be as little as 6m depending on the process automated. Automation does not have to mean massive investment. Simple Case Erectors, semi-automatic Case Sealers, Case Coders and Pallet Wrappers all improve end of the line operations without massive cost implications.

Typically the cheese, butter, eggs, will be delivered to a packing line already contained within some kind of primary packaging. Cheese & butter will be wrapped or placed within say a plastic tub or bag or some other container. Eggs will be in their egg box. The task of the packing line will be to place the items into a cardboard outer for onward shipping & transportation. It is therefore very important that the secondary packaging protects and contains products safely, securely and economically. The primary product must reach the customer, retailer and end user in good condition with an easily identifiable use by date with traceability for the producer / supplier.

Cardboard Outer Boxes

Using cardboard outer boxes is a common way of protecting goods in transit from the manufacturer to the customer. Sealing a box with tape is an effective way of making sure the product within stays in the box safe & secure. Using a Case Sealer to apply the tape increases productivity (on average, over 25%), and saves space (no need to pre-erect boxes before being used). A Case Sealer also ensures consistency of taping; the box will be taped first time every time. There is no need to re-apply a second line of tape just to make sure that the box is actually taped closed and will not open in transit. A Case Sealer ensures consistent presentation of the box being sealed.

For example, using a Pack Station SP304 has been shown to improve productivity over 30% when compared to hand erecting, filling and top taping. This particular packaging machine can be justified for a throughput as little as 50 boxes per day per line.

An LD7 Case Sealer when demonstrated at a major supermarket distribution centre helped boost their end-of-line throughput by nearly 50%!

Traceability

With foodstuffs it is probable that the box containing the items will be stored in a warehouse before the contents are required for display and / or sale. Warehouse racking systems can be vast. If a warehouse operator is to rotate inventory according to shelf life and best before dates, he needs to be able to see, understand & locate the items in the boxes.

Simple Case Coders such as dot matrix ink jet printers accomplish this. They put a best before date, batch code in human readable format in large characters directly on the box. This enables a warehouse operative to easily see which boxes of product should be used first, and therefore maintain the correct inventory holding for a particular product. The external batch codes act as a control for the supplier, so that if for any reason he needs to identify a particular batch, say when a product recall may occur, it can be done so easily and quickly.

If a Bar-Code or more complex printing is required such as ingredient lists or a promotional logo is required, a high resolution Case Coder such as an IJ3000 would be more suitable.

Security in Transit

Volume producers / manufacturers may ship goods to their customer on pallets. Pallets facilitate ease of moving large quantities of boxes in a stable and controlled manner. Pallets can then be put into storage in a warehouse and stacked on shelves ready for use as & when required. However, if the boxes are not secured to the pallet in some manner, they can easily move in transit and risk being rejected and / or damaged in transit. This can result in non delivery, fines and the cost of re-works or lost profit if the pallet cannot be re-shipped and re-supplied. It certainly puts reputation at risk. It also adds unnecessary and avoidable cost. Securing a palletised load to a pallet with stretchwrap film is a simple yet economic method of reducing risk of damage in transit & rejected deliveries. If end of the line equipment such as a Pallet Wrapper is used to accomplish this, security can be enhanced and productivity improved, especially when compared to wrapping by hand. Productivity gains of over 30% have been achieved with wrappers from Loveshaw Europe. Using a pallet wrapper is also an environmentally sound way of wrapping a pallet. It uses less film as it stretches the film as it is applied to the palletised load. Using a power pre-stretch pallet wrapper generates less waste that will ultimately end up as landfill.