UK-based gourmet chip manufacturer Pipers Crisps Ltd. was founded in 2004 by three farmers, who had the goal of producing high-quality potato chips with local potatoes.
Today, its award-winning products, recognized nationally for their unique and bright packaging design, are distributed throughout the UK, as well as exported to Europe and the US. Following a period of growth in the past two years and rising popularity of its products, Pipers Crisps needed to add new packaging lines to its existing packaging fleet to cope with the additional demand.
The installation of high speed packaging solutions from tna has enabled Pipers Crisps to increase productivity, double packaging speed and reduce waste while maintaining the highest level of product quality through enhanced seal integrity.
Meeting increased demand
With existing equipment achieving throughput speeds of only 80 bags per minute (bpm) for its smaller bags, Pipers Crisps needed to substantially increase bagging speed. The premium chip manufacturer opted for two tna robag FX 3ci – vertical, form, fill and seal (VFFS) packaging solutions. These high speed baggers feature the world’s shortest vertical product transfer from the scale to the pack, helping to maximize packaging performance. The new setup allows Pipers Crisps to package a variety of bag sizes at speeds of up to 140 bpm, resulting in a 75 percent increase, in line with the company’s capacity uplift.
Catering for a variety of snacking occasions, the chip manufacturer needed a packaging solution that could switch between two different pack sizes—40 (1.4 oz) and 150 grams (5.3 oz)—of high quality pillow bags, without lengthy changeover times that would slow down or even stop production. With its lightweight formers, unload assist and twin film spindle, the flexibility of the tna robag FX 3ci makes changeovers fast and easy, enabling operators to easily switch from one bag size to another on the same packaging line.
Assuring quality with superior seal integrity
The Pipers Crisps brand is renowned for its premium positioning. In such a highly competitive market, quality is crucial to help differentiate brands on retail shelves. It was therefore important that the chosen packaging solution could maintain seal integrity and reliably produce high-quality bags that do not compromise the shelf life of the product within it.
“During the packaging process, pieces of chips can get caught in the bag seal, compromising seal integrity and reducing the shelf life of the product. When this occurs, it can often lead to product rejects and waste,” says Simon Hill, regional sales manager at tna.
With its rotary jaw design and sealing technology that offers improved seal performance at high speeds, the tna robag FX 3ci proved to be the perfect solution. Featuring patented stripper tube closures, the completely integrated packaging system allows for better control of the product through the packaging and filling cycle, therefore helping to control dust generation and minimizing crumbs in the end seal of the bag.
The tna robag FX 3ci was also customized with product-in-seal-detection (PISD) software that monitors product in the seal and jaw area. If seal integrity is compromised, the system immediately alerts the operator so that bags can be quickly removed from the line for further inspection. That way Pipers Crisps is able to ensure that each bag meets the highest quality standards while keeping waste to an absolute minimum.
“Before the installation, we experienced 3 percent wastage at 80 bpm, as we had to manually detect and remove any bags with compromised end seals or pleats before they entered the packaging area,” says Richard Mottram, factory manager, Pipers Crisps. “Now, our wastage is down to 1 percent at 140 bpm—which has surpassed our expectations. As a result, it has helped us gain better control over product losses and achieve operational cost savings, while contributing to quality assurance.”
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