An Ishida tray sealer and checkweigher/metal detector combination at Mash Direct, manufacturer of Ireland’s leading quick-serve mashed potato, vegetable and cabbage products, are delivering speed and efficiency in the packing process, as well as helping to maintain quality standards and reduce product giveaway.
Mash Direct grow, steam cook and package the products on its farm, distributing them to major supermarkets throughout Ireland and the UK, as well as exporting them to Scandinavia and continental Europe. In six years the company has become a £6 million business with 50 employees.
The company has built a lot of its own equipment for the processing of its products but needed outside suppliers to provide solutions for the packing end of the operation. As a result Mash Direct turned to Ishida’s agent in Ireland, SF Engineering, for advice and expertise.
Mash Direct dishes are sold in twin portion 400g trays, with approximately half also available as single portions. In addition, family packs of 1kg trays are on offer for the most popular products.
Although the process includes chilling the product, the absence of any additives, preservatives or colourings means that packing has to be rapid. The Ishida QX-775 tray sealer offers high speeds, packing up to 70 trays per minute in the single-lane configuration used at Mash Direct, with temperature control and consistent seal force. The inside cut profiles, another feature of the QX-775, provide the trays with easy to peel seals for both consumer appeal and safety.
“The QX-775 has given us more consistent seals than before,” comments Neil Houghton, general manager of Mash Direct. “It has also increased our line speed allowing us to reduce our working time. We get very good peelable seals with the Ishida sealer due to the temperature control and consistent seal force. On other equipment we tend to find the seal control is more difficult.”
Another important requirement for the packing operation was for Mash Direct to maintain both pack weight accuracy and high quality control standards while reducing product giveaway. The Ishida DACS checkweighers with integrated Ceia metal detectors have proved to be fast, accurate and cost-effective.
“We find the combi checkweigher to be highly suitable for our needs, firstly because they have a small footprint and secondly because they are very reliable,” says Mr Houghton. In addition, the machines provide us with excellent weight information and a final check for metal contamination.
“SF Engineering and Ishida have supplied us with one of the best tray sealers we’ve seen and a very accurate and efficient checkweigher/metal detector combi unit,” he concludes.
In addition, SF’s after sales service is good, which is very important to us as we have very few engineering resources. You find out the real calibre of a supplier when things get tough.”