Seal of approval

05 June, 2009
Speed and waste reduction are two main influences on modern sealing technology. Patrick McGuigan looks at some recent equipment introductions
Page 33 

It's a sign of our environmentally conscious times that reducing food waste was one of the driving factors behind Honeytop Speciality Foods' decision to invest in technology for applying resealable closures to a line of own-label tortilla wraps.

The Zip-Pak 'press-to-close' seal means that shoppers can keep their tortilla wraps fresh between meals, thereby reducing wastage. What's equally important is that it also helps the products to stand out on shelf, says Honeytop joint MD David Laurence. "This new machine and the reclosable packaging help us to differentiate our products. Reclosable packaging offers consumers the added flexibility and convenience they demand."

The closure is applied using a ZipPak Reseal 360XM applicator unit attached to a Fuji Alpha flow-wrapper. According to Fuji's technical manager Charles Ingham, the applicator unit applies the seal to the film as the product is wrapped - a more cost-effective method than using pre-made bags or film with the seals pre-applied.

"Pre-made bags have to be filled individually, while if it is pre-applied to the film, you can get less on a reel, which means more change-overs," he says. Even so, having to apply a seal does still slow down flow-wrapping speeds, with the Alpha's top rate of 120 packs per minute cut by around half.

In plant bread, consumers have long been able to reseal their loaves, thanks to the sticky plastic tape used to close the bags. But even the simplest designs can be improved as evidenced by a tape application machine from the newly launched UK subsidiary of US company Burford Corporation. As well as applying tape to bags of plant bread, the TCS Tamper Evident Tape Closure System also applies a paper strip across the 'legs' of the tape, which makes it easier to pull apart and acts as a tamper-evident seal.

"It provides another way for bread companies to demonstrate due diligence and the integrity of their product," says the company's UK sales manager Terry O'Donoghue. "The machine is designed completely differently to others on the market, with a different concept for applying tape. The type of rollers we use means we can apply tape with a stronger level of adhesive, which means they are easier to reseal and bags are less likely to burst open."

The TCS, which runs at over 80 loaves per minute and has already been taken up by Hovis and Vogel, incorporates a Markem Smartdate 5 thermal printer for codes and 'sell by' information. Options include manual or automatic tie height adjustment and the machine will work with a number of substrates including polyethylene, polypropylene and paper bags.

Select Bag Sealers has also introduced new bag-sealing technology recently, which ensures tape and printed information is applied extremely accurately. Launched last year, the SBS-Thurne Flexi Sealer can be electronically raised and lowered, as well as adjusted width-ways, to adapt to different-sized products, thereby ensuring the tape is accurately applied. "This is extremely important because information on the seal is required for essential point-of-tie information such as traceability codes," says sales manager Nick Kemp. "Other sealers cannot guarantee the position of the print as accurately."

Accurate application of seals also ensures the bread inside is tightly packaged, eliminating the possibility that it could slant to one side. Speeds of up to 95 bags per minute can be achieved, depending on product, and the machine is available in two models - 90mm length seal format for standard polythene bags or 110mm for thick polypropylene or paper.





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