Abergavenny Fine Foods, a UK based cheese maker that provides a variety of traditional and modern cheeses, installed an Ishida QX775 tray sealer to improve the production efficiency and throughput of its oven-bake breaded cheeses in November 2005.

The cheese maker was facing increased demand for its oven-baked cheeses including breaded Camembert, breaded mozzarella fingers and salmon and cream cheese bakes, which resulted in increased pressure on existing production capacities. In addition, Abergavenny had limited floor space that prevented expansion of its operational facilities.

Contractor and capacity

Abergavenny needed a tray sealer that was able to offer the flexibility to pack a variety of cheeses and contracted Ishida to provide the QX 775 tray sealer with additional specifications, including an integrated checkweigher and tray de-nester.

A minimum line speed of 50 trays per minute was specified and the QX 775 tray sealer met their requirements with its capacity to pack 100 packs per minute on a single lane configuration. The machine can handle a maximum tray size of 280mm and depth of 85mm.

Machinery features, operation and specifications

“The integrated checkweigher incorporates a feedback system that allows Abergavenny to identify the overweight or underweight trays.”

Abergavenny uses the integrated checkweigher to check the trays for pack weights before sealing. The integrated checkweigher incorporates a feedback system that allows Abergavenny to identify the overweight or underweight trays, minimising wastage of trays and film.

To improve efficiency on the packing line, Abergavenny has customised the machine to include a screw system to separate the nested trays on a consistent basis before placement on the chain and peg infeed conveyor.

The cheese manufacturer is able to facilitate fast changeover of tools by a single push-button tool-release system available thanks to the bespoke tooling options of the tray sealer.

Operational control and access are managed using the full colour touch screen control and swivel mounted control panel.

Trays are moved to the infeed conveyor where they are positioned within the tray sealing tools using gripper arms. The trays are then elevated to meet the film using lower tools and the upper heated tool presses and seals the tray. The lower tool reverts to its original position and the trays are moved to the outfeed conveyor. The QX 775 tray sealer also provides a peel tab to ensure the utmost consumer convenience.

Abergavenny uses a wide range of tray formats with a single design. The time it takes to fill such trays varies considerably. Instead of providing a standard control mechanism for the QX 775 tray sealer, Ishida included a remote control unit in the sealer. The unit enables operators to control the speed of the feed conveyor according to the type of trays being sealed.

MAP-V packaging

Abergavenny prefers using nitrogen for its MAP-V packaging due to the flavour profile of its products. For this purpose, a vacuum is created to remove the air before nitrogen is injected.

The QX 775 tray sealer can create the vacuum and rapidly inject nitrogen with a very high level of control ensuring low residual oxygen levels.

Increasing efficiencies at Abergavenny

“The ‘inside cut’ technology helps Abergavenny to improve product appeal and reduces film consumption by 5%.”

Benefits of the QX775 have included increased production speed; reduction in downtime, film consumption and product damage, improved quality of sealing with better appearance and economy in costs.

The QX 775 features ‘inside cut’ technology, which prevents film from extending beyond the tray edges. The ‘inside cut’ technology helps Abergavenny to improve product appeal and reduces film consumption by 5%.

Consistent sealing quality is maintained by on-screen adjustment of film tension and the film pullback feature. This enables the film to be released immediately without getting trapped in the tool before completion of the sealing process.

Quick response and improved customer service are enabled by the reduced product changeover time of 10 minutes, against 45 minutes for normal tray sealers. This is especially useful during last minute changes in orders from the customer.