Food Engineering
Field Reports

Perfect frozen pizzas: It’s a wrap

Palermo’s new high-speed shrink wrapping line can side-seal 150 frozen pizzas per minute compared to the old sealing machine’s rate of 90 pizzas per minute.

May 6, 2014
Based in Milwaukee, WI, Palermo’s Pizza was started by Sicilian immigrants Gaspare and Zina Fallucca who opened an Italian bakery on Milwaukee’s east side in 1964. Over the years, the bakery expanded into a full-service restaurant known for its pizza and, by 1979, began to manufacture and sell frozen pizzas based on the family’s traditional Sicilian recipes. It manufactures frozen pizzas under the Palermo’s brand including products such as Primo Thin, Naturally Rising, Stone Baked and Classics by Palermo’s.

Texwrap shrink wrapper

Pizzas exit the Texwrap shrink wrapper at speeds up to 140 pizzas per minute—in perfect condition and ready for packaging. Source: Texwrap.

To meet the demand for its products, the company opened its new 250,000-sq.-ft., state-of-the-art, USDA-inspected manufacturing plant that operates four packaging lines for its frozen pizzas. But, central to Palermo’s packaging operation is its main packaging line that handles its top-selling 12-in. frozen pizzas.

“We have been experiencing continued growth at a double-digit rate every year,” says Mike Walz, vice president of operations for Palermo’s Pizza. “As we grew and the demand for product went up, it generated a need for us to operate at a higher level of speed to meet the demand.

“The challenge we faced as we tried to push our line speeds up was the inability of our existing lap seal wrappers to run at the higher rate of speed and provide a reliable seal,” says Walz. “The lap sealers use a static sealing process. It is an overlap on the bottom of the pizza. Sometimes, we would lose that seal, and in the shrink tunnel, it would open up. That tended to be a limiting factor when running at higher speeds.

“On our main packaging line, we were using a lap sealer that was operating at fewer than 90 12-in. pizzas per minute,” explains Walz. “So, we embarked on a project to increase the rate on that line first. After reviewing several shrink wrap designs, we settled on one system that could be custom configured to meet our specific needs.”

Palermo’s selected a high-speed, continuous-motion, servo-controlled side-seal shrink wrapper from Texwrap. The system uses multiple technologies that are integrated into one system architecture, enabling the high-speed throughput of up to 150 frozen pizzas per minute with consistent high-quality seals, without damaging the fragile pizza products.

The throughput speed of the wrapper is achieved by the sealing head, which uses servo orbital-motion technology that eliminates the need for the head to move with the product while the seal is being made. The sealing head moves in an ellipse, without the back and forth motion of typical sealing heads, which dramatically increases the throughput speed of the wrapper.

Palermo’s wrapper is equipped with a product protection system that ensures the orbital head will not close down on any pizza. A sensor maps the position of each pizza as it enters the orbital head operating space and knows when a pizza is misplaced, skipping that seal cycle.

 “Knowing the inherent design of both the static lap seal and continuous motion side-seal, the speed and the quality of the seal are tremendously improved with the continuous system,” explains Walz. “We were able to get a shrink wrap system on our primary line that not only meets our design specifications, but exceeds them.”  


For more information:

Tom Dickman, Texwrap Packaging Systems, 636-239-7424, tomd@texwrap.com, www.texwrap.com.