Harpak-ULMA, the North American business of Spanish packaging company ULMA, has launched a packaging machine designed for poultry products.

The Tight-Chicken machine uses ULMA’s Tight-Bag technology that combines vertical bagging with a patented air extraction process.

Harpak-ULMA’s new machine replaces the commonly used manual-intensive processes with a combination of automated product loading and vertical bagging.

In addition to automating the bagging process, the machine is designed to reduce the sanitary risks associated with manual operations.

According to Harpak-ULMA, Tight-Chicken avoids leaks and ensures that the product meets applicable hygiene regulations until it reaches stores.

The machine also removes the need for separate vacuum chambers and bagging stations without compromising production capacity.

Tight-Chicken is claimed to increase production yield by up to 35 high-quality, leakproof bags a minute.

The machine aims to help companies meet their sustainability goals by reducing the amount of plastic used in the packaging process.

Harpak-ULMA Flow wrap manager Hugh Crouch said: “Until now, packaging fresh poultry required two separate systems – one to open the premade bag to insert product and one to extract air and seal the bag.

“Compared to Tight-Chicken, that’s more costly, less efficient, and requires more physical plant space – both for installation and associated maintenance.

“In addition, traditional whole chicken packaging processes require more manual repetitive labour — operators manually loading bagged chicken onto the conveyor platforms and transference into vacuum chamber systems.

“In comparison, Tight-Chicken executes the forming, sealing, and air extraction continuously, like an assembly line.

“Another bonus is that Tight-Chicken shrinks the total packaging surface area, excluding any need for additional point-of-sale plastic packaging.”

ULMA’s Tight-Bag process features a forming film around the vertical tube and specialised cross-sealing jaws combined with venturi air evacuation to seal the bag.

The machine is suitable for packaging films, including the breathable film used in fresh, crust-chilled poultry.