An introduction to automatic flexible packaging machines

An introduction to automatic flexible packaging machines
Packaging is an essential activity in the food system. Consequently, virtually every food product is packaged one or more times before it reaches the ultimate consumer. In most food production and distribution systems, packages are used to move products from farms to processing plants, between processing plants, and from processing plants to retail outlets and on to consumers. There are many rigid and flexible package forms including boxes, pouches, bags, cups, trays, cans, tubes, and bottles. A food package can hold processed food products, fresh food products, or other food packages. Packages perform one or more of four basic functions: containment, protection, communication, and utility.

It is a device designed for the assembly of unit loads from individual items. Usually a part of automated assembly lines, are the final step in the manufacturing process and the first step in the transportation process. They may be automatic or semiautomatic and can handle materials packaged in rigid, semirigid, or soft containers and materials not packaged in containers, such as metal castings, sheet metal, rolled metal sections, and lumber. The machines can be set up to handle items of a given standard size or items within the same range of standard sizes, with the necessary adjustments being made either manually or automatically. They can be used to make up unit loads on auxiliary devices, such as pallets or skids. There are machines that only assemble loads, and there are machines that both assemble and break up loads.

There is great variety in the design of . Among the factors that influence design are the specific features of the manufacturing process and the properties and dimensions of the goods. The unit load consists of a stack of individual items that have been collected in sequence in accordance with the load-sorting plan, which determines the relative positions of the items. Further development of the design of packaging machines has been based on matching the dimensions of packaging materials to those of the as-yet-unpackaged goods and on considerations of the size, shape, and weight of the unit loads. Such standardization makes it possible to select the optimal industrial methods for machine packaging, which is, in turn, a prerequisite for the design of unified and universal packaging machines. The first packaging machines appeared in the USSR and abroad during the 1940’s.

Packaging machines are used for the assembly of unit loads from sheet goods, from bulk goods in sacks, and from individual items in the metallurgical, printing, and wood-products industries. Such machines may be designed to assemble unit loads horizontally, vertically, or in a manner that combines horizontal and vertical operations. In machines designed for horizontal operation, the goods from the conveyor belt, guided by the distributor in accordance with the work plan, are conveyed into the collector. There the goods form a layer, which is moved by the carriage of a twin-chain conveyor to the flaps of the stacking device. The flaps are then opened, the layer of goods is lowered onto the pallet, and the stacking device is readied to receive the next layer. After the last layer is stacked, the load proceeds to the delivery conveyor and from there to the exit conveyor. The distributor makes it possible to carry out sequential sorting of items of various standard sizes according to a variety of programs by making the required adjustments in the control system.

Flexible packaging equipment processes a layered (usually plastic) material called film to produce filled bags, pouches, sticks, and other flexible package types. This material usually contains a sealant layer that bonds together with heat to create a sealed package.

Some flexible use a large roll of film wound around a hollow core, called rollstock (pictured at right), to form bag shapes.

Other packaging machines use already-formed bags, usually called premade pouches.

In either case, rollstock and premade bags are purchased from a film supplier, which is a company that creates or converts packaging materials. Sometimes these materials can be purchased directly from an equipment manufacturer, and other times the film supplier is a separate entity. Ask your packaging machine manufacturer for their recommendations for film suppliers.

Form fill seal machines are the most widely-used automatic flexible packaging machine type. This equipment does exactly what its name suggests: Forms bags, fills them with product, and seals the bags closed.

Some machines perform these processes vertically (vertical form fill seal or VFFS) and some do it horizontally (horizontal form fill seal or HFFS). VFFS machines have the advantage of occupying limited floor space and are more economical in cost, which makes them a top choice in many industries when square footage and budget are limited.

Multilane stick pack machines are very popular in industries that package small packets of powder or liquid products like condiments and drink mixes. These machines work similarly to form fill seal machines but create multiple packages at once.

Packaging equipment is often rated by speed or throughput, which is how many finished bags can be completed by the machine in a certain timeframe. This is usually represented as bags per minute (bpm), which is how many finished bags can be produced by the machine per minute.

Often a machine will be rated for a maximum number of bags per minute, while actual production speeds will vary based on many factors including operator skill, product properties, bag styles, and plant environment.

BAG PARAMETERS
Packaging equipment will also have bag size parameters, usually represented by width, length, and/or depth in millimeters (mm). This means a finished bag must fall within certain size constraints.

Some packaging machines can accommodate very large bags, and others work best creating much smaller packages. Your manufacturer will use your bag parameters to decide which machine to recommend.

Packaging machines can also have bag weight parameters, meaning the machine can only support bags up to a certain weight. If a bag is very large and heavy, load-bearing support shelves can be added.

BAG TYPES
Another parameter will be the bag types a packaging machine can produce. Certain models can only create simple flat bag types while others can create more complex bags, like stand-up pouches.

ELECTRICAL & AIR REQUIREMENTS
Packaging machines need adequate power and air supply to operate. Specifications for these components will also be listed on most spec sheets.

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When making the choice between premade pouches and form-fill-seal, OEMs should consider factors like run speed, changeovers and flexibility of package sizes handled, according to the 2019 Flexible Packaging Assessment by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

The packaging machinery market is seeing an uptick in demand for rental machinery. There are three key drivers of this trend: flexibility, cost and return on investment. Continuously evolving consumer demands and the explosion of SKUs means that flexibility is paramount, particularly in the food and beverage markets.

Packaging is constantly changing, and to keep up with consumer and retail/CPG demand, we have to look at the future as "now." Thinking ahead in order to make trend predictions and how machines and materials can be used is one way to help stay ahead in the ever-changing market.
Depending on the type of food being packed, packing comes in various types. To pack these food materials, various are used. The packing styles also change depending on the storage life of the product.

Food that are high perishable like fresh processed meats and frozen items are best when vacuum packed since it can tremendously extend its storage life. There is a separate type of food packaging machine or food packing equipment used to perform vacuum packaging of the products.

Here are the various types of food packaging machines:

Food Vacuum Packaging Machine:

It is one of the most efficient packaging machine to pack foods because it avoids air making food remain fresh. As aerobic microorganisms are responsible in swift deterioration of foods, they hardly thrive or are immobilized under this condition.

Food vacuum packaging machine helps to extend storage life of food products thereby making the product well suited for sale on the freezer or cold display storage units of several retail stores.

Biscuit Packaging Machine

Biscuit packaging machine is another type of food packaging equipment. It is usually fitted with electronic digital temperature controller to maintain high precision in achieving the desired temperature during food packing process.

It helps to bring optimum freshness of the food. The most interesting aspect of this machine is that packaged products are closely monitored with its automatic feed counter that shows the quantity of items placed packed by machine. This makes it easier for the food manufacturing companies to monitor daily factory output.

Bundling Food Packaging Equipment

Bundling Food packaging Equipment is quite common and is widely used by many food suppliers. It is capable of storing huge quantity of foods before they are banded or wrapped together as a single bundle.

It is also called as the banding machine. It can also be used for packing small items such as stick candies or individually packed hot-dogs that need to be bundled together for economic purposes.

Bagging Machine

It is popular in several China food processing factories. Foods in this case are packed in bags, sacks and pouches. This bagging machine is common to pack cereals and powdered foods such as milk powder and sugar.

Closing Machines

These closing machines are similarly common in many food factories. This equipment is used to tie metal wires to enclose the food bag or pouch.

Capping Machines

Capping machines are popular among food suppliers of food syrups and drinks. This equipment is not used solely to pack food items but it is usually used in conjunction with other food packaging equipment.

The major function of this equipment is to close bottled food items by placing air-tight caps. This is common in soda-manufacturing companies.

Accumulation machinery

Accumulation machinery is used along with the capping machine. This machine allows proper alignment of bottles for systematic and organized filling of foods. It is used in soda companies and bottled-water companies.

There are various types of . It is important to tailor-fit the selection when yo buy one of these machineries according to the type of food that is being packaged to ensure optimum quality products with fully extended storage life.


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