High-speed interleaving, stacking results in sanitary production
Despite ongoing production pressures on meat and poultry operations managers, making the effort to follow best practice sanitary standards can not only enhance food safety and production but also add value to products. This can help to increase consumer and food service sales, as well as market share.
One of the best ways to achieve such results is to partner with innovative industry equipment providers that are responsive to meat and poultry manufacturers’ specific requirements.
As an example, Land O’Frost, one of the nation’s best-selling brands of presliced deli meats and a producer of specialty sausage products, sought to start a new line of premium sliced-meat sub kits for retail sale. The company aimed to add value by conveniently grouping a variety of meats in sandwich-sized portions, interleaved with sanitary wax paper.
“We required a higher-volume, more sanitary solution than manual interleaving could provide,” says Steve Jones, maintenance engineering manager at Land O’Frost’s Searcy, Ark., plant.
While meat and poultry plants are commonly cleaned and sanitized during the night shift after two work shifts each day, Land O’Frost places a particular emphasis on proper cleaning and sanitation to produce safe products. This typically involves multiple phases of cleaning and sanitizing for eight hours a day to ensure its plants are not only visibly clean but also microbiologically clean.
It usually includes equipment disassembly, prerinsing, soaping and scrubbing, foaming walls and floors, and a flood rinse with hot water, as well as visual inspection and microbiological sampling to ensure the elimination of any potential debris, contaminants or bacteria. Before the company starts production, USDA inspectors verify that its plants are truly sanitary.
That food safety commitment was a top consideration in selecting interleaving equipment from Packaging Progressions (PacPro), which specializes in the design and manufacture of automatic, high-speed interleavers, stackers and card dispensers.
“PacPro worked closely with us on the sanitary equipment design and machine guarding,” says Jones. “As our production grew and we acquired additional equipment, each interleaver and stacker/counter we purchased improved on the previous version.”
In the production system, he notes that the meat slices interleaved with sanitary paper go by conveyor to a stacker, get counted and are then packaged.
According to Jones, the interleaver designs exceeded traditional standards. Standoff mounted components helped prevent the trapping of product scrap. Ground, polished welded construction also eliminated recessed bolt heads and other bacteria harborage points.
Jones says that some important sanitary design and production improvements involved enhancements to the stacker as well.
“PacPro even changed the design of the stacker so it is quicker to disassemble; now we can clean it thoroughly without having to completely disassemble it,” says Jones. “They also designed its fully washdown resistant servo motor to eliminate the need for a large separate enclosure and changed its guarding to make it impossible to inadvertently get a hand into the point of operation.”
The change also increased a productivity speed feature. “They redesigned it so it doesn’t have to turn 90 degrees before stacking, which translates into about 10 to 15 percent faster stacking speed.”
According to Jones, sales are good for the retail sub kits, and the company’s hygienic and efficient high-volume production system plays an essential role in this success.
For more information, visit www.pacproinc.com