Case Studies & Field Reports

Processor uses VFFS to meet changing customer demands

Low maintenance, flexible vertical form-fill-seal equipment delivers increased speed and uptime.
Bektrom Foods Inc., Colgate, ND, a leading manufacturer of private-label foods, relies on user-friendly, quick changeover packaging equipment to cost effectively meet the challenge of changing customer requirements. The company manufactures baking mixes (muffins, cakes, cookies, quick breads, cupcakes, breakfast bars, etc.), oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, spices, skillet dinners, pasta salads and instant potatoes. Production includes private label, a Bektrom house brand and licensed brands such as Mrs. Fields, Power Rangers and Larry the Cable Guy.
Six years ago, after investigating packaging equipment options on the Internet and at packaging trade shows, the company learned of the Matrix Mercury vertical form-fill-seal unit. Bektrom contacted Matrix, a Pro Mach company, and then talked with long-time users of the product. As a result of its findings, Bektrom replaced an expensive-to-maintain packaging solution that relied on proprietary parts with a Matrix Mercury unit. As Bektrom’s business has grown, it added two more Matrix Mercury units. 
“Our customers rely on us to provide quality packaging solutions for a reasonable investment,” says Shannon Erickson, Bektrom Foods plant manager. “Since the Matrix units are competitively priced, highly reliable, and have a low cost of ownership, they enable us to meet our customers’ needs. Uptime is critical in our business, and  in the five years the first machine has been in operation, it has only been down for half an hour.”
The company’s packaging lines package more than 250 SKUs at rates of between 54 and 74 packages per minute using Mercury vertical form-fill-seal machines with 14-head weighers. With the packaging equipment’s speed and flexibility, Bektrom can respond to changing needs, ensuring customers receive products promptly.
Since the packaging equipment stores programs—recipes for each product and package configuration—changeovers can be made easily and quickly. The equipment’s intuitive touch screen interface eliminates the need for extensive operator training and helps prevent errors that impact uptime. The screen also provides users with instant access to easily understood displays of program settings as well as help buttons to provide guidance if needed, allowing operators to make required changes to ensure production accuracy. Additionally, the units have a lock-out feature to ensure only those with access privileges can modify programs.
Bektrom Foods has found the Matrix packaging machines have a very low cost of ownership. “Over the last five years, we have invested only $200 in consumable parts for the machines,” says Erickson. “The availability of off-the-shelf spare parts plus manufacturer support and service result in higher equipment uptime and cost-effective performance.” 
For more information: Tim Johnson, 262-353-6657,

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