Tyrolean sausage and meat product manufacturer Hörtnagl needed to meet customer demand by guaranteeing that the Modified Atmosphere Packs (MAP) it produces are absolutely safe. Having a long relationship with GEA, the company agreed to help field test the GEA OxyCheck optical monitoring system. The result: less downtime, better pack integrity, reduced packaging waste and complete product confidence.
Andrä Hörtnagl Produktion und Handel GmbH is a market-leading, fifth-generation family business, started in 1863, employing 250 people to produce up to 12 tons of meat products each day in a single shift. Its range includes over 100 high-quality lines all manufactured from local ingredients, at its 500m2 factory in Hall, Tyrol and packaged on GEA PowerPak thermoformers. The company’s values of quality, flavor, authenticityism and sustainability are the cornerstones of its business strategy.
"Modern, high-quality manufacturing is only possible through continuous investment to ensure compliance with ever more stringent hygiene and quality guidelines and to fulfill customer requirements" Hans Plattner, Managing Director, Andrä Hörtnagl Produktion und Handel GmbH
Throughout its history, Hörtnagl has been true to their values by continually investing in technology to ensure compliance with increasingly stringent hygiene and quality guidelines, and to meet customer demand for greater variety, consistency and product quality. “It’s easy to destroy the trust a customer has in a manufacturer,” said Hans Plattner, Managing Director. “That’s why we’ve made quality and safety our top priority.” Flexibility is also extremely important as some of the products are sold in seven different pack sizes.
Around 50% of the company’s production is retailed in MAP packs that help maintain the quality and shelf life of the products. Previously the company would carry out random spot checks after every film change. This was not only expensive and time consuming, it was only able to physically check a small proportion of the packs and resulted in unplanned machine downtime. It was possible for compromised packs to pass through the packaging process without being discovered. This was clearly not in line with the company’s strict hygiene and product quality principles.
"Our expectations have been more than fulfilled. We have been completely won over by the advantages the optical measurement system has to offer" Hans Plattner, Managing Director, Andrä Hörtnagl Produktion und Handel GmbH
The right performance
OxyCheck is a non-invasive optical monitoring system that checks the oxygen level of every pack at the machine exit. This identifies any pack that has an incorrect residual oxygen level, or where the seal has been compromised, and rejects it automatically without interrupting production. “Consumer safety requirements are becoming ever more stringent,” said Hans. “We can now guarantee that every pack a consumer purchases has been tested.”
OxyCheck uses sensors to scan a fluorescent spot printed on the inside of the upper film of each pack. The fluorescence changes in line with the oxygen concentration inside the MAP pack allowing it to be checked from the outside, at high speed, without damaging the packaging or impairing the machine performance. The system also charts daily production, logging the residual oxygen levels of all products. “This means we can guarantee compliance with all national and international standards,” said Reinhard Penz, Head of the Packaging Division.
At Hörtnagl, the extensive product range requires the die sets to be changed up to ten times a shift. GEA thermoformers allow a fast changeover which minimizes downtime; the robust design ensures reliability even in this arduous environment. “One big advantage is the running time of the machines,” said Reinhard Penz. “The GEA thermoformers are practically maintenance-free.” When fitted with the OxyCheck optical monitoring system they have a significant impact of plant performance.