Snack manufacturer Bastini, part of the Intersnack group, has significantly increased production speeds and doubled capacity at its newly rebuilt factory in Lelystad, the Netherlands, following its investment in six fully-integrated multi-head weigher/bag maker combinations from Ishida.
Bastini manufactures some of the best-known snacks in the Netherlands and also produces own brand snacks for many leading European retailers. The new factory at Lelystad manufactures direct-extruded snacks, pellet snacks and several varieties of popcorn.
Following a major fire, the company decided to rebuild the factory and one of its main objectives was to double the capacity. In order to achieve this Bastini specified an extra six high speed lines, which would be able to deliver maximum efficiency in the production of small (17g-30g) as well as larger (200g-300g) bags.
Ishida won the contract after Bastini trialled the Atlas integrated packing system (iTPS), the proven high speed, high efficiency snack food bag maker, at Ishida, Europe’s headquarters in Birmingham, UK. The Atlas range creates high quality bags, reduces product and film waste and works seamlessly with Ishida weighers. It is available with iTPS software, which supports integrated operation with Ishida multi-head weighers to maximise line efficiency, bringing major benefits to Bastini.
Product is distributed to the top of each Ishida weigher via a FastBack system. Each weigher is mounted directly onto its bag maker. The weighers installed at Bastini are 14-head models from Ishida’s R-Series. Equipped with Ishida’s advanced calculation hardware and software, they can make reliable, accurate combination choices at consistently high speeds. Their powerful, self-adjusting vibratory systems keep the product flowing smoothly, avoiding any excessive build up at the top of the machine. The product is transferred from the weigher’s discharge chute into a clear plastic funnel which takes it, via an integrated metal detector, into the bag maker.
The geometry of the bag-former is an original Ishida concept, designed to maximise the speed and smoothness of the operation that forms the film into a tube, prior to bottom-sealing, filling, top-sealing and cutting. The bag maker entry chute and the bag-former make up a unit that can be rapidly removed and replaced. A given unit is suited to a particular range of bag sizes, and Bastini keeps a rack of units by the bag makers, ready for use when a changeover from one bag size to another is needed.
The belts that move the film through the bag maker are servo motor-controlled and use vacuum to keep a consistent grip on the material. This provides the very precise control of the film, essential for making high quality bags at high speeds.
The six Ishida integrated totals packaging systems (iTPS) have proved to be very reliable and have met Bastini’s expectations of the high speeds attainable with single-manufacturer snack food packing systems. Bram van Velzen, Bastini’s maintenance and engineering manager, said: “At present, speeds with the Ishida iTPS range from 70 bags/min with the larger bags and up to 180/min for the smaller sizes, which is a particular strength of these machines.”
The back seal of the tube is applied using a rotating hot steel belt. This produces excellent results; even at those points where back seals and top or bottom seals meet. As Bram van Velzen remarks, “The back seals are exceptionally smooth and neat.” The bottom and top seals are delivered by the twin rotating jaw mechanism, a major contributory factor to the increases in bag making speed, recently pioneered by Ishida.
An important competitive feature of the Ishida iTPS is the bag-cutting device. In competitors’ bag makers, the knife may need to be adjusted after just two weeks of production. This process can take up to two hours and a replacement is usually needed after about five adjustments. By contrast, the Ishida knife can work without adjustment for eight solid months of production.
The touch-screen interface is large and clear, with standardised operating screens in the operator’s own language. The operator has access to an on-screen image of the pack being worked on to eliminate any possibility of a pack-product mismatch.
The system also provides the operator with a real-time video view of the top of the weigher, reducing the need to visit the upper part of the installation and helping to minimise the number of staff needed to run the line. At Bastini, currently one operator can look after two or even three lines.
Bram van Velzen said: “Snack weighing and bag making is a very competitive field. One of the things that influenced us was the keenness of the local Ishida people and they have maintained that interest long after the sale. We don’t have to ask them to come in: they drop in as often as they can because they also clearly feel a certain pride in the installation.”