Catering Houtop is a Dutch food service company catering to the retail sector to provide a wide range of healthy and convenient food for snacks and lunches away from home. The company produces sandwiches, filled rolls, paninis, toasted sandwiches, dips, soups, wraps, salads and snacks all in a convenient packaged form and ready to eat.

The Catering Houtop product range has around 12 sandwich varieties in the traditional triangular shape with a similar range of varieties for wraps and rolls and also produces individual made-to-order sandwiches.

“The company is well known for baking its own fresh specialist bread to produce sandwiches and rolls.”

The company is well known for baking its own fresh specialist bread to produce sandwiches and rolls. It also produces around six different varieties of freshly squeezed fruit juice, which is available with no additives in carton sizes from 200ml to 2l.

Catering Houtop is known for its environmental responsibility and the packaging used, particularly for sandwiches, is now fully biodegradable and compostable.

SANDWICH PACKAGING UPGRADE

In the first quarter of 2008 Catering Houtop decided to upgrade its sandwich packaging system to increase efficiency and throughput, reduce labour costs and also to introduce a new cardboard package; this would improve the presentation of their premium handmade sandwich brand and also continue their policy of environmental sustainability.

The company – set at full HACCP standard – introduced the Proseal SP30 fully automated sandwich packing system, becoming the first mainland European company to do so. The system is designed to de-nest, erect and seal the cardboard sandwich skillets during the sandwich packing process; more retailers are now requesting cardboard skillets. The SP30 is configured to handle a wide range of sandwich pack designs and only requires a five-minute changeover, which can be carried out by the line operator, providing the flexibility needed by a company with such a large range of products.

Laurent Beekwilder, the director of Catering Houtop commented: “Our sandwiches are supplied to the top end of the market so presentation and image are vital… Thanks to the SP30, we have been able to create a vastly improved pack appearance as well as maximising production with no loss of quality… We are delighted with the SP30 and the standard of service we have received … This has been a new venture for us, and something of a journey of discovery, but we have been well supported along the way, and the results in terms of our improved pack appearance speak for themselves.”

SP30 ADVANTAGES

The new SP30 has vastly increased throughput for Catering Houtop and is achieving speeds on the sandwich line of around 15 to 20 packs per minute. The machine is capable of a top speed of 30 packs per minute and this capability will be used as part of a later upgrade. The equipment uses a menu-based control panel, which prompts for instructions at each stage and there are also displays for error and status and a batch pack counter to maintain control of throughput, traceability and
inventory.

“The new SP30 has vastly increased throughput for Catering Houtop and is achieving speeds on the sandwich line of around 15 to 20 packs per minute.”

The SP30 is fully proofed/protected against wash-down water and requires only yearly maintenance intervals. The SP30 is actually based on the much larger SP60 machine but was produced for the smaller sandwich packing operation that might not need such a large machine on its premises.

The machine was designed for smaller production runs and more frequent changeovers. The smaller machine has a footprint of only 6.5m by 0.7m and as such can be more easily retrofitted. The SP30 is also more controllable, being based on a conveyor drive system that provides full control of the linear acceleration, deceleration and velocity of product movement and prevents spillage of sandwich fillings.

The installation was the first project to be delivered by Proseal in mainland Europe in association with its new Benelux partner, Stephan Nederlands of Almelo.