An efficient Ishida packaging line has enabled Finnish meat company Snellman to increase the output of its minced meat packaging operation by 32.5%, from 80 to 106 packs per minute, while at the same time significantly reducing manpower requirements on the line.
The Ishida-devised solution includes tray supply, a portion-to-pack system, traysealing, labelling, comprehensive pack and label inspection, and robotic placing of the packs into crates.
The finished minced meat is formed into a continuous ‘loaf’ which is fed onto backing paper and guillotined into portions of the correct weight. Each portion passes over a checkweigher and, when it reaches the end of the belt, is carried by its own impetus into a tray which arrives on a belt just underneath.
Electronic signalling and a tray pause-and-release mechanism ensure the timing is correct, while a unique Ishida-devised vacuum system under the conveyor belt holds the light plastic trays in place, which contributes significantly to the high speed at which the line can operate.
The tray stream is then split into two, using a diverger, and the twin streams pass into an Ishida QX-1100 traysealer, which with its fast, servomotor-controlled cycles and high, twin-lane capacity is another important factor in speeding up the packing process.
After sealing under modified atmosphere, the trays are once more converged into a single stream and top-labelled. They then pass into an advanced Ishida IX-GA-2475 X-ray inspection system and an Ishida seal tester, on which is mounted a vision system for checking label positioning, orientation and data. This further contributes to the overall efficiency of the line, as it provides thorough checks at a much quicker speed than the human eye.
The new line has also led to dramatic manpower savings for Snellman, and enabled them to free up staff for other duties. The previous minced meat line required five people, two of these involved in packing the finished trays into crates. In addition, a sixth person was looking after the supply of trays and crates. In contrast, the new line requires only two dedicated workers, and the crate-packing function is now carried out automatically by an Ishida IPS pick-and-place system.
“We were looking not just for more capacity, but for greater efficiency,” says Anders Snellman, project manager of the decision to install the new line. “We have found the Ishida team very open-minded, and ready to listen to our suggestions and concerns.”
Roland Snellman, production manager, is also very pleased. “You always have to be trying to do better, to go from good to great,” he comments, “but at this moment I am confident we have the best minced meat operation in Finland.”
In fact, Snellman was so impressed with the efficiency of the Ishida inspection and end-of-line equipment as to keep the previous minced meat line operating (it now handles the larger pack sizes) and to add the same combination of X-ray inspection, seal testing, vision inspection and IPS to it. This has enabled similar manpower savings on that line.