6 Key Principles for Forming, Filling & Sealing Quality Packages on VFFS Machines

Welcome to the latest Kenray Blog looking at the 6 Key Principles of forming, filling & sealing quality packages on VFFS Packaging machines. We are delighted to be joined by our Corporate Partners Greener Corporation.

1. Product Flow

Let’s start at the beginning with Product flow. Problems occur most often when the product is:

 large in relation to bag size
 inconsistent in size or shape
 lightweight
 oddly shaped
 or with rough outer surfaces

Bottlenecks occur when product strings out as it moves from the inlet cone into the narrower confines of the forming tube. In extreme cases individual product “charges” can bridge together. These product flow issues slow down production speeds, create blockages, and cause leakages when product gets trapped in the seal.

On forming tubes with integral cones, the product dose is slightly staggered, so it passes through the bottleneck faster and stays more compact.

2. Forming Set Design

Forming sets should be designed according to your product, package design, machinery, and film specifications. Make sure that this optimal design is accurately and consistently replicated when you order replacement parts or specify formers for multiple machines, lines, or locations.

3. Roller Position

Machine adjustments are also critical for producing quality packages. Misaligned film rollers prevent the film from making full contact with the forming shoulder, causing wrinkles, creases, and package distortions that reduce shelf appeal and cause seal problems.

4. Film Drive

Poor package quality is caused by film drive issues such as belt adjustment and forming tube alignment

5. Former Wear and Damage

Wear or damage to the former lip or shoulder can also distort the package.

6. Sealing

By fine-tuning your forming and filling operations you will improve both package appearance and seal quality.

Leakages
The end seals on packages produced by vertical baggers typically vary in thickness. Most have a lap or a fin seal, and some are designed with gussets. Unintended wrinkles or pleats may, at times, be unavoidable. Leakages, when they occur, often follow channels at the intersections between two and multiple layers of film and at the corners.

Sealing Jaws
Sealing jaws must transfer enough pressure and heat to seal across these channels without crushing, cutting, or distorting the end seal.

• Pressure

In order to create uniform sealing pressure, the serration profile of your sealing jaws should be designed according to your package specifications, machinery, and running conditions.

• Heat
Sealing jaw temperatures are often increased to improve seal quality, but this can create hot spots that overheat and distort the package.

Jaws manufactured from Dura-Therm material provide more responsive, consistent heat transfer across the package to help seal off-channel leakages without overheating the film.

• Wear and Damage
Jaws that are worn, damaged or contaminated with products also create inconsistent pressure and heat transfer that cause seal problems.

To learn more about forming and filling on vertical packaging machines, contact Kenray Forming on +44 (0)1530 400 100. We can also offer remote training and consultancy to help you optimize your packaging operations.

Kenray Forming_sets formadores para envasadoras verticales

For more details on sealing  Jaws, consult the wide variety of Greener “Tech Bites” posted on their P3 Solutions Blog, or contact Greener Corporation.

For further information, please contact Mark Evans on +44 (0) 1530 400 100 or email perform@kenrayglobal.com

 

Kenray Add Horizontal Folding Boxes Capability to its Portfolio of Products

Kenray is delighted to announce that we have added a range of equipment and tooling that has allowed us to launch our design, manufacture, testing and verification of forming solutions for the horizontal packaging market and have invested in new machinery to further enhance this capability.

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This is an exciting new addition to the Kenray portfolio. For the past 18 months, our Engineering Team has been working hard to develop in-house capability to supply leading food manufacturers with forming solutions and a range of applications, including sustainable & compostable film structures that will help ensure packaging is more environmentally friendly. This development will facilitate the use of environmentally friendly film whilst enabling manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint.

During development, Kenray has become the partner of choice for a number of global manufacturers to design, manufacturer, test & verify solutions for the horizontal folding box market and further investment has been made to widen our capabilities for further testing & verification.

Mark Evans, Commercial Director, and Andrew Dennis, Technical Director said:

“As the packaging sector changes, machinery capabilities need to change in order to offer an efficient solution that is eco-friendly, reduce carbon footprint, and keep machines running at their optimal performance. We have been delighted to be chosen as partner of choice to help design and develop solution’s over the past 18-months and with the future expansion plans in place, this capability can only strengthen our product offering. Exciting times ahead and we look forward to sharing more news over the next few months.

For further information, please contact Mark Evans on +44 (0) 1530 400 100 or email perform@kenrayglobal.com

 

Cost-effective Refurbished TNA Strippers

KENRAY are delighted to confirm that they have developed a robust method to refurbish TNA strippers in a cost-effective, reliable manner. Having developed sophisticated bespoke jigging and production techniques, the team at Kenray can now refurbish TNA strippers to the original, exacting standards.

Kenray confirm that a TNA stripper or bag closer repaired by Kenray, will provide the performance of a new bag closer at a fraction of the cost. The refurbishment process of the TNA stripper sees the parts completely taken apart, cleaned and re-assembled. During the assembly process Kenray use a specialist bespoke jig to ensure all components are accurately aligned and checked, enabling the refurbished bag closer and stripper to operate as new.

Full details are on our solutions page around bags and strippers.

If you need to replace your bag closers and strippers on a regular basis contact Kenray to see how refurbishment could save you money and provide you with greater value.

The Hidden Costs of Average Forming Sets

An important consideration for food manufacturers is the cost of their packaging machinery and forming sets. To cut costs, many packagers will purchase an average forming set, which meets the minimum requirements for safety and hygiene and produces bags suitable for sale. However, the average forming set that was meant to save money up front will often result in additional, hidden costs over time.

There are some common ways in which average forming sets negatively impact the profits of food producers:

 

Small Stops and Reduced Output Speed

Small stops are almost always caused by product blockages, which are caused by a wide range of circumstances. Product with low mass, high surface roughness or wide-ranging variation in unit size commonly can block the former, and integral chutes are required to reduce the possibility of blockages.

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The design of a straight tube in an average forming set vs a bespoke set’s tube with gradual transition.

However, average forming sets use inlet chutes that do not feature a gradual transition from the chute into the tube, which results in food getting stuck in the machine. When small stops occur, the machine must be turned off and the issue must be corrected by an engineer. Every minute that the machine is off reduces the overall output of your company.

 

Misaligned Tubes

Average forming sets that are fabricated poorly will feature belt flats on the tube that are not an equal distance away from the centreline of the belts. One belt will apply less pressure, which results in uneven tension and it will wear out faster than usual. As such, the belts will have to be replaced more often than they would be with a custom forming set – another hidden cost which will add up over time.

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An example of tube misalignment.

 

Problems With Back Seals

Misaligned tubes and shoulders can compromise the quality of the back-seal on the bag, which leads to waste of material. The film may wander off to one side, which will cause the material to ripple while it is being passed through the machine. This can cause the back-seal to expose graphics that are meant to be hidden or hide graphics that are meant to be shown. In some cases, the back seal will come apart. Both food products and packaging material are wasted, which presents a significant dent in the bottom line of food producers.

At KENRAY, we have seen many customers buy average forming sets to save hundreds of pounds in the short term. Unfortunately, over time the equipment presents shortcomings that cost thousands to correct. Our bespoke forming sets prevent these issues from occurring, helping you to increase your production and output.

For more information, view our Forming Set Solutions page or give us a call at +44 (0)1530 400 100. You can also read our full white paper on the Hidden Costs of Average Forming Sets.

Defra to Fund Study on Flexible Packaging

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced its plans to fund a study that will endeavour to improve the recycling and remanufacturing of flexible packaging. The findings could potentially have a significant impact on the packaging of snack products with bespoke forming sets.

The study will take a close look at flexible packaging that contains aluminium, such as pet food containers, toothpaste tubes and snack pouches. Defra estimates that the UK marketplace uses 160 000 metric tons of flexible laminate packaging every year. As such, it is important for food manufacturers and OEMs to become aware of the recycling opportunities for this this type of material.

Several large UK food manufacturers will take part in the study. Nestle UK & Ireland, Coca-Cola Enterprises and Tesco UK will research, develop and test new methods of recovering and treating the materials used in flexible packaging. They will also endeavour to increase the recycling and collection of flexible packaging across England.

Should the trials prove successful, there is the possibility that new viable collection and recycling schemes will be implemented. This could lead to a significant reduction in carbon emissions, ultimately benefitting the environment in more ways than one.

Due to the nature of new materials used in flexible packaging, film control and former accuracy is paramount. Flexible packaging has the potential to pose a challenge to food manufacturers, and it is important to work with packaging experts that can develop custom forming sets to address these issues.

KENRAY has 30 years of experience in helping food manufacturers package their products using a wide range of materials. For more information, visit our Snack Food Formers page or call us at: (0)1530 400 100.

Packaging: 20 Years of Change

Packaging began simply as a way to protect food, keeping it fresh and clean until it was eaten. But it was not long before it acquired a range of other purposes such as branding, sales, and usability.

With all these areas invested in packaging, it is no surprise that companies are constantly growing and developing the ways they package their food. As a result, there have been huge changes in the industry over the past 20 years.

 

Going Green

Related to wastage, environmental concerns have also had a huge impact on the packaging industry. As well as being a factor driving the reduction of material wastage, environmental issues have affected the type of material used. Far greater quantities of food now use packaging which is recyclable or has already been recycled. These factors have also left their mark in the field of design and labelling. Most food packaging now includes advice on how the materials can be disposed of in the most environmentally-friendly way and whether the packaging is recycled. Brands that wish to show their environmental responsibility to their customers may also mention the fact their packaging is recycled clearly and visibly on the label.

 

Calorie Counting

Perhaps one of the most significant and noticeable changes in packaging over the last 20 years has been the inclusion of nutritional information. Concerns over public health and new legislation have led the inclusion of this data to be near-universally applied to food packaging. It has also become part of the selling process. Healthier foods, or brands that wish to convey a helpful and health-conscious image, put essential facts about a product’s nutrition in prominent places on the front of the pack.

 

Standing Out From The Crowd

Companies are keen to make their packaging stand out on the shelf, as well as ensuring it looks modern and impresses the customer. As a result, the field of packaging design has seen huge advancements.

New technologies have allowed labels to become more colourful and complex. A range of new shapes have also been developed, either for practical reasons or to look modern and unique. A range of forming shoulders are now widely available to help produce shapes that were unheard of 20 or even 10 years ago.

 

Reducing Material Wastage

Through the later part of the twentieth century, a number of studies in different countries were coming up with disturbing wastage figures. Not only were packaging materials being wasted in the manufacturing process, but inadequate packaging was leading to the wastage of large percentages of products. In Russia, for example, more than half of fresh fruit and up to 70% of potatoes were wasted for this reason. More reliable manufacturing processes, through the use of modern formers and more advanced equipment, have slashed these figures.

Two Decades of Change in the Packaging Industry

Since its humble beginnings as a simple means to protect food and keep it fresh, packaging has developed and changed to play a much more important role in many ways. For example, it now offers a whole host of other purposes including branding and usability instructions, and exciting designs to increase sales.

Companies tirelessly review and renew their packaging, investing large amounts of capital into the process and developing the way that products are packaged. This has seen large scale change in the packaging industry over the last couple of decades.

 

Packaging Design

Perhaps one of the most important considerations of modern day packaging is the design. It is imperative for companies to be able to provide a product that is packaged in a well designed way that is impressive to the customer. This necessity has facilitated the advancement of packaging technologies.

In addition to allowing more colourful and complex designs to become more easily viable, packaging technological advances have also allowed for unique and modern shapes to be easily made. Forming shoulders are able to assist with creating intriguingly shaped packaging that was simply unavailable from 10 to 20 years ago.

 

Wastage

Towards the end of the 20th century, studies and surveys across the globe found troubling and concerning wastage figures that saw packaging materials being wasted during the manufacturing stage, and also that poor quality packaging was leading to product wastage. This was of particular concern in Russia, where 70% of potatoes and over half of all fresh fruit was being wasted because of this reason. Modern manufacturing processes including the use of advanced equipment such as formers and forming tubes has resulted in even less wastage.

 

Environmental Considerations

Closely linked to wastage, the packaging industry has also been affected by environmental concerns. Not only does this fuel the desire to keep wastage at a minimum, it also has led to further considerations such as materials used. As a result, many foods now come in recyclable packaging, or packaging which is made from already recycled materials. This in turn has had an effect on packaging design, as most products now come with clear instructions on how the materials can be disposed of or recycled in the most ethical and environmentally friendly manner.

For some brands, their dedication to the environment is a key part of their sales pitch, and so the fact that they use recycled and recyclable materials in their packaging may become an integral part of its design.

 

Health and Nutrition Information

Another key change to packaging over the past 20 years has been the nutritional information that is present on food products. Public health concerns and new legal requirements have led to the inclusion of such information on packaging. As a result, not only does this conform to legislation, it again also becomes part of a brand’s market placement; many companies focus their strategy on promoting their message of selling healthy products, and so may include this information in a prominent place on the packaging. Health conscious buyers and customers are also attracted to this, so many companies highlight their health and nutrition information to attract more sales.

Colegate Calls for Recyclable Packaging

Colegate-Palmolive has recently announced new commitments to recyclable packaging. In particular, the company has spoken out against the increasing adoption of non-recyclable flexible packaging.

More and more products are now being sold in flexible, non-recyclable plastic packets. Raisins were once commonly packaged in little cardboard boxes, but now they use flexible packaging. Likewise, drinks traditionally come in bottles, which are usually made of glass or PET, or else in aluminium cans. All of these can be economically recycled. But now, some products such as Capri Sun, which is immensely popular with children around the world, come in flexible packaging that is difficult or impossible to recycle. All in all, 2012 saw sales of products in such flexible packaging reach levels of over US$26 billion in the US alone.

So what has made companies invest in the formers, forming tubes and other packaging machine accessories necessary to completely change their packaging to a non-recyclable option?

Cost, of course, could be one factor. Flexible packaging is often cheaper to produce, offsetting that initial investment in new forming sets and packaging machine accessories. Nonetheless, it is surprising in these days of environmental awareness and increasing corporate responsibility to see such a large shift away from recyclable materials.

However, some companies may have made the change with genuinely good eco-intentions. In the short term, manufacturing this packaging generates lower levels of emissions and uses less material. However, while this makes sense in the short-term, the fact that these products cannot be easily recycled offsets the initial advantages. There are few disposal options available except for incineration or landfill, and then the manufacturing process for new packaging begins again from scratch.

Indeed, misguided views on the eco credentials of flexible packaging are making their way to the very heart of the packaging industry. In a recent interview, green design advisor and sustainability architect William McDonough said “I see packaging awards being given to these pouches as more efficient containers of, say, a cereal.” He then pointed out that this product, traditionally placed in an easily-recycled cardboard box, is now “wrapped in seven plastics with undefined inks and metallized polymers. It doesn’t have a recycling symbol on it because you could never recycle it… And yet it’s being put forward as a more efficient package.”

Now Colegate have taken their stance against this non-recyclable packaging, they seem to mean business. For three out of four product categories in the company’s portfolio, they have committed to making all packaging recyclable by 2020. For their remaining product category, oral care, they are working on development of a recyclable toothpaste tube, or a new kind of recyclable packaging to serve the same purpose, so that the remaining products can follow suit.

The Debate over Recyclable Packaging

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More and more companies are making the shift towards packaging their products with recyclable materials. While it is certainly a more environmentally-responsible approach, many companies continue to use non-recyclable packaging. So, why haven’t all companies made the switch yet?

Even though we are seeing plenty of companies using forming sets to package products in recyclable materials, there has also been an increase in the number of products that are being packaged in flexible, non-recyclable materials. A prime example of this is Capri Sun, the popular kids’ drink packaged in materials that are virtually impossible to recycle.

Cost is the major factor behind the use of flexible packaging, since it is often cheaper to produce due to the materials required. There are also some short-term ecological benefits, as this type of packaging generates fewer emissions and uses less material overall.

However, on a long-term scale, recyclable packaging is more beneficial. Flexible, non-recyclable packaging may be cheaper for manufacturers to produce and more convenient for consumers to use, but it is a major drawback that the material cannot be recycled. This type of packaging can only be disposed of in an incinerator or landfill.

One company that has taken up the cause is Colgate, as the company has taken a stand against non-recyclable packaging. For three of four of their product categories, the company will make all of its packaging recyclable by the year 2020. Oral care is the remaining category, and Colgate aims to develop a new recyclable toothpaste tube in coming years.

When making the switch to recyclable materials, brands may require different forming sets to ensure the efficiency of the packaging process. At Kenray, we work with our customers to understand the different issues relevant to your food processing needs, such as recyclable packaging, product flow, bag quality and sealing issues – as well as temperature, material and volume requirements. As such, we can advise you on the ideal type of forming set or even build bespoke formers to suit your packaging needs.

KENRAY can help you find the ideal forming set for your recyclable packaging. For more information, visit our Forming Sets page or call us at: +44 (0)1530 400 100.

Decades of Development in the Packaging Industry

With over 30 years of experience in the food packaging industry, KENRAY has seen many changes and developments to the way that food is packaged. While it originally started out as a way to protect food and keep it fresh, packaging has developed to serve a number of other purposes, including branding, environmental-sustainability and reducing food or material wastage.

 

Food Packaging Design

One of the most crucial aspects of food packaging today is design. Companies aim to ensure that their packaging is designed in a way that captivates and impresses customers. As such, there has been an increased need for advancement in food packaging technology.

If manufacturers want to sell their products in interesting ways, they require vibrant colours and designs. New technological advancements make colourful packaging more viable and allow for unique shapes to be made. Forming sets and shoulders help to create this type of packaging, which simply would not have been seen on grocery store shelves twenty years ago.

 

Wastage

In the past, studies showed that an alarming amount of food packaging material was being wasted both during and after the manufacturing process. Today, innovative sealing jaws help reduce leakage, which keeps food fresh and prevents wastage. They also run on a low temperature to save energy and production costs.

To further reduce waste, more and more refrigerated products are being sold with re-sealable packaging. Subdivided packages also help in this respect, as they allow you to use some of the product now and save the rest for later without opening the package.

 

Environmental Concerns

In the packaging industry, we are also seeing a shift towards sustainability. Manufacturers want to keep food and material wastage to a minimum, so many foods are packaged in materials that have been recycled or can be recycled in the future.

In turn, this has had an effect on the physical design of packaging, as products are printed with clear instructions about disposing the material in environmentally-responsible manner. Many brands even use their sustainable packaging as a selling point.

 

Nutritional Information

Over the course of the past few decades, we have also seen the addition of nutritional information to food packaging. New health regulations have led manufacturers to include information about calories, protein, fat, sugars and carbohydrates on their products. This has also become a part of the marketing strategy for many companies, as their packaging helps them promote their commitment to providing healthy foods to customers.

For more information on how KENRAY’s innovative technology can benefit your products, visit our Packaging Solutions page or contact us.