The GEA SmartPacker CX400 meets the company’s ecofriendly production goals
An excellent relationship
The noodle plant produces an average of 145,000 kilograms of noodles per week which equates to 17 million bags annually. The company operates a number of vertical form fill and seal machines of which 12 have been supplied by GEA and Mark Harris, who is the Production Director for Kanes Foods and responsible for the factory operations, is impressed with the machines’ performance. He said, “Seven years ago, our introduction to GEA (then CFS) was the SmartPacker SX400 with Quattro seal as you were then the only company offering this packaging format. We have established an excellent working relationship, and the machines are both efficient and economical. Access to service and spares is good, so our engineering team is pleased, and the up-time performance is better than our other vertical packaging machines.”
Kanes Foods is a leading producer of stir-fry vegetables and noodles, leafy salads, dressed salads and sauces in the United Kingdom. They supply consumer packs to the leading UK supermarkets. The company is also a front-runner in the use of ultrasonic bag sealing on vertical form, fill and seal machines, and they recently selected the GEA SmartPacker CX400 (continuous operation) machine when they made the switch from traditional heat seal for their noodle packing operation.
So when it came to looking for a vertical packaging machine with ultrasonic sealing, GEA was naturally in the running. Several years ago, Kanes Foods had evaluated a line-seal solution from
another supplier, but the technology was not mature enough to meet expectations. Plans for a new eco-friendly leafy salad production facility triggered the company to re-evaluate the ultrasonic sealing solutions that were available. Mark Harris again, “a few years ago, we carried out successful trials with GEA ultrasonic equipment fitted to our SmartPacker SX400 machine. This gave us the confidence to pursue ultrasonic sealing for our new facility and to place an order with GEA for a SmartPacker CX400 continuous operation machine for the noodle line as soon as it became available with ultrasonic sealing.”
Because noodles are oiled products, they need to be packaged using relatively expensive laminated film bags in order to guarantee the seal integrity with conventional thermal sealing. A switch to ultrasonic sealing enables the use of a lower cost mono OPP film, which is also easier to recycle. In addition, Kanes Foods were also able to switch to a thinner 30 micron film instead of 35 micron. Ultrasonic sealing of packaging films as thin as 30 micron requires extremely innovative engineering to ensure the ultrasonic sealing jaws remain parallel. GEA has developed patented technology to do this, and it has been proven in salad and similar applications in the field.
Material cost savings
Ultrasonic sealing also reduces the material costs. As well as being able to switch from laminate film to a mono OPP and down gauge the thickness and the height from a ultrasonic seal is just 5 mm, compared to 15 mm for a thermal seal, reducing the repeat length by 20 mm per bag. For the noodle bags, this repeat length reduction represents an approximate 10% saving on film. As an added bonus, the ultrasonically sealed bags have a neater appearance as there is virtually no distortion due to heat.