PA C K A G I N G WHAT’S NEW IN DAIRY PACKAGING HMPS, an Australian machine builder which provides customised end-of-line packaging solutions, works closely with a variety of customers on specialised designs. Here, applications engineer Glen Foreman looks at the challenges There are many challenges to packing UHT brick pack and plastic bottles. UHT brick packs come with a variety of packaging difficulties which causes drag on dead plates, and making sure the gables are orientated in a way to show the artwork on the tetra carton once it is packed into the shipper case. But whether it is UHT brick packs or plastic, the fact remains - customers had to overcome these packaging challenges when a local customer with an expandable range to pack anything from 250ml up to one-litre bottles of milk products with one machine, both in cardboard cartons and plastic crates. There was also a requirement for packing two and three-litre bottles into plastic crates, all at high speed. BOTTLES In an effort to reduce costs, producers are now reducing the amount of plastic in the bottles, which adds to the challenge of handling strength. Plastic bottles have their own unique challenges. Although easier to handle, you could encounter conveyor when bottles hit each other at high speed, popping lids and seals due to force. Excess line FT353 such as bellies, moisture are looking for faster automation with more flexibility. HMPS wanted a faster case packer due to the reduced structural the issue of bounce on the 30 AUGUST 2017 accumulation applies pressure, causing the bottles to compress or change shape and position. Managing the speeds of the bottles on the infeed requires special consideration and handling. One of the techniques we use is product diversion, by diverting bottles into multiple lanes using servo diverting arms. It slows down the speeds and makes the product more manageable on the conveyor belt. TUBS HMPS has designed several case packers for tubs of yogurt and dip. One of the biggest challenges when dealing with tubs is range – from 100ml to two litres, with shapes ranging between square, ‘sqound’, rectangular and round. These clever packaging designs have come about as a result of consumer demand, and the practical aspect of getting that last little bit of yogurt out of the tub. Some containers even have special lids which contain muesli and perhaps an additional spoon. All of these variables are great for the consumer but requires specialised packaging. We can no longer have one standard formula for handling tubs. Sometimes vacuum can’t be used from the top as the lid may not be secure enough to support it, or in cases where the tub doesn’t have a lid it may cause crows’ feet on the film, damaging it and potentially the seal. Controlling line pressure can also be a challenge. Excessive line pressure can cause lids to pop off and tubs to fall over. Controlling the pitch of the tubs at high speed is critical to allow for precise pick and placement of the tubs. This is achieved using servo -driven timing scrolls. Using clamps may be tricky because of the tub shapes and having to maintain precise positioning to suit the clamp heads. In these cases, we usually suggest an overhead guide and multiple staging stops which reduce the tub-on-tub pressure. This would control the accumulation of pressure between the tubs. With product speeds of more than 200 tubs per minute there is no room for error. PACKING POUCHES Dairy pouches have made an appearance in the past few years and have different handling challenges as a result of various spouts’ shapes and sizes. The changing shape of the pouch during transport can lead to handling difficulty. HMPS handles this product by moving it from a flat position on the conveyor into a paddle index which stands them on their bases. The spouts are then positioned using grippers and clamps to individually place these into position, all at high speed. HYGIENIC STANDARDS AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS Generally, foam and warm water are used during the cleaning processes - the foam is hosed on and left to dry. It might then be wiped down or rinsed off with a mild to warm water wash at medium pressure. The machine needs to be easy to clean and products must be waterproof. Electronics, motors and gearboxes need to be IP rated for wash down. Corrosive resistant, full stainless steel or coated aluminium products are used throughout. During the construction, special care is taken to minimise areas where liquids can collect and to avoid flat surfaces so that water can run off the machine. Internally, customers have their own quality hygiene standards and HMPS builds according to these quality requirements. No matter which dairy product you are packing, there are always special considerations. It pays to use a company with a good track record in this industry when considering the capital outlay of a machine. HMPS is an Australian company which specialises in the design, development and manufacturing of high quality machinery for packaging processes. www.hmps.com.au and trends he is currently seeing in dairy packaging.
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