Columns

Field Reports: Productivity is in the bag

April 17, 2003
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
Case erector and bag inserter combination accelerates fruit and vegetable packing process.

A Pearson bag inserter installed at Simplot’s Quincy, Washington plant fills 24 cases per minute and provides quick changeover for the processors’ varied product lines. Source: Pearson Packaging.
The J.R. Simplot Company’s Food Group has always focused on quality and innovative products. The company’s Roast Works™ line of flame-roasted and seasoned vegetables and fruits and other blends of vegetables and pasta products allow customers to develop improved menus. The Quincy, Washington, plant is a key part of Simplot’s strategy. The plant has two components, a frozen food plant that runs seasonal vegetables grown in the Northwest, including green peas, snap peas, corn, carrots, limas, pasta, and rice, and a repack facility that handles products from other Simplot plants. Products include basic fruits and vegetables plus a large number of blends, enrobed products, and products with added seasonings. The plant freezes and packs in excess of 300 million pounds of products each year, placing it as one of the largest vegetable plants in the country.

To meet the packaging demands of over 500 SKUs for foodservice, organic, export and retail customers, Simplot installed a new system for packing fruit and vegetable products into corrugated cases with poly bag liners.

“The majority of our customers want the convenience of a bulk package that contains 20 to 55 pounds of frozen product,” said Mike Pirkey, packaging manager for Simplot’s fruit and vegetable division. According to Pirkey, this size is easy to use in foodservice applications and is equally useful for customers who use the frozen product as a component of their final product, such as a prepared meal.

“We have both foreign and domestic and customers who repack into smaller portions, so it’s important for us to offer the product in this format.” The only alternative, Pirkey says, is bulk totes that contain 1,200 to 1,500 lbs., which many of Simplot’s customers don’t have the capability to handle.

The new system was installed last summer and includes a Pearson R235 Case Erector, a B240 Bag Inserter, and existing Powell scales. The Pearson Case Erector is set to run 24 cases/min., sealing case bottoms with pressure-sensitive tape. The Pearson Bag Inserter uses parallel motion that increases both speed and reliability.

“Our scales are set to fill 24 cases per minute, so we needed all of the components in the line to support this speed,” said Pirkey. “Anything slower would have been a bottleneck.”

Another key requirement for this line is flexibility and rapid changeover. The Bag Inserter runs 20 different case sizes with bag thickness ranging from 2-3 mils, and according to Pirkey, changeover has to be done with no tools in five minutes. “We often run 55 to 60 different SKUs per week and I’ve seen runs as short as 12 minutes. We make products to stock, but stock turns over very rapidly, so we have to be capable of responding quickly to customer demands,” explained Pirkey.

Simplot stopped using another bag inserting system at this plant because of the limited number of bags it could handle and changeovers that required 30 to 60 minutes. “We went back to a manual operation for inserting bags until we could find something better. Compared to manual operations, automation of this line gives us a savings of 30 to 40%,” Pirkey said.

Productivity is growing at the Quincy plant. “For the past three years we’ve averaged significant double-digit growth in packing capacity. We will be pushing everything we have to maximum speed and have our eye on rates of 28-30 cases per minute for this line.”

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Fabulous Food Plant: Paramount Citrus

Learn more about this fabulous food plant in Food Engineering's article, found here.

Podcasts

Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

What was your favorite part of FA&M 2014?

View Results Poll Archive

THE MAGAZINE

Food Engineering Magazine

Food engineering magazine 2014 april cover

2014 April

Catch a preview of the Powder and Bulk Show in this April 2014 edition of Food Engineering. Also, be sure to check out a coffee stick making a real stir and a major advancement in the the pet food industry.
Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE FOOD ENGINEERING STORE

Food-Authentication-Flyer-(.gif
Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Food Master

Food Master Cover 2014Food Master 2014 is now available!

 

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit www.foodmaster.com to learn more.

STAY CONNECTED

FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.pnglinkedin_40px.png