Thoughtful Setup Avoids Packaging Bottlenecks | 2022-01-03

Once the cooked food comes out of the blender, goes through the oven or fryer, receives its finishing touches and cools, all that’s left is the packaging. The hard part is done, right? But as all bakers know, things can go wrong at the end of the line.

Bottlenecks related to packaging materials, product, labor and others can slow down and even stop the process. This is exactly what bakers want to avoid.

“You know it will only run so long before debris causes an outage. You know that an event – ​​an engine can run badly, the product can go out of specification and create a jam or downtime – can happen, and these things are predictable,” said Bill Kehrli, vice president of sales and Marketing, Cavanna Packaging USA. . “You may not know when, but you know statistically that during a shift you can have, on average, three or four events.”

It is these “predictable failures” that are in fact essential to avoid bottlenecks in packaging. A thorough understanding of how the line works, what might fail and when, and applying best practices can iron out difficulties and avoid costly downtime.

The first step in setting up a new bakery packaging line is to gather all relevant information about what the baker wants to accomplish, what baked goods will be produced, and how they will be packaged.

“You need to understand their current process and what their purpose is,” said Josh Becker, Product Manager, Bakery/Confectionery, Harpak-ULMA. “Is their goal to reduce labor, improve efficiency, or increase production on their packaging line?”

Bakers need to be clear about what will work on the line. While consumer tastes and products can change quickly, being able to look ahead to prepare for the unexpected is key to investing in the right equipment.

“It’s amazing how many times we’re either in the middle of the process of building the equipment, or we’ve already installed it and someone comes back and says ‘Yeah, we have to do it now’. said Dennis Gunnell, President of Formost Fuji. “With today’s lines, most of them want automation and high speed. Those things put you in a position where you maybe don’t have to.” may not have that flexibility, or it may not be easy or inexpensive to change that.

Designing the right packaging line doesn’t just mean considering a baker’s needs and the space available for packaging, it requires testing to determine how fast the machines can process products.

“If you are creating a new line, it is essential for any customer to ensure that we have fully tested their product,” said Mark Finneran, sales development at Niverplast.

Testing the film on the equipment also guarantees its proper functioning.

“The film is normally the bottleneck on the line, not the equipment,” Mr. Kehrli said. “So we test the film, assess its speed, and then we look at alternatives based on the product film, space, customer understanding and what they learn about the product.”

Richard Kirkland, president of LeMatic, said planning ahead and allowing enough time for installation “from shutting down the line to removing old equipment to training operators and maintenance” ensures a climb. gently in power.

Once the line is installed, it should be evaluated to ensure that everything is aligned and operating at optimum efficiency.

“Fine-tuning unit operating speed settings can be a challenge,” said Eric Morin, project manager/application engineer at AMF Bakery Systems. “The time it takes for a bag to inflate, for example, is very sensitive to how fast the bagger is running. Many other parameters must be considered to obtain the best results.

Packaging space in a facility can be limited, forcing equipment manufacturers to get creative while keeping lines running smoothly.

“A lot of times we’ll do little elevators going up and down,” said John Weddleton, product manager, automation, Harpak-ULMA. “Sometimes there is an aisle that needs to be left open for them to go up and over each other so that traffic can keep moving through that area. It’s certainly something that we seem to be doing more and more of: incline conveyors, elevators. The other thing: using the same space for the infeed and outfeed conveyors. »

Mr. Kehrli said Cavanna’s Twin Slim Wrapper is a space-saving device that’s been in demand lately. It allows bakeries to fit two packaging systems into the footprint of one.

This article is an excerpt from the November 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the full article on bottlenecks, click here.