Gabriel SC, a Belgian fish processor, installed the Ishida Fresh Food Weigher (FFW) for weighing and packing its marinated shellfish and vegetable mix in May 2005. The machinery will help the company to fine-tune its packing system and to achieve accuracy, faster throughput times and greater product consistency.

Gabriel markets five different products of marinated shellfish and vegetable mixes, and each product has very different characteristics. The company found that when it considered its range of products and the desired low target weight (170g), it needed a packing solution that prevents ingredients from separating in the automatic weighing and handling process.

The weighing and packaging solution that Ishida provided for Gabriel was the newly launched FFW system. It combines multi-head weighing with a linear design and allows the product to be fed manually onto the belt feeders of the weigher.

CAPACITY FOR NOW AND FOR THE FUTURE

The Ishida CCW-NZ-106B-S/15-WP FFW operates at eight Multivac cycles per minute – with two or three trays per cycle – with accuracy to within 1% of the target weight. Gabriel’s earlier operation consisted of five to six Multivac cycles per minute and an average product giveaway of 5g per pack. FFW machinery requires just one operator, where Gabriel had been previously employing two, to fill the product into the trays.

FRESH FOOD WEIGHER

Ishida designs, manufacturers and installs weighing and packing line solutions for meat, confectionery, snacks and frozen food industries. The Ishida machinery that was installed at Gabriel’s facility located in Malmedy, in the Ardennes, included a lift to raise the 1t bin of product mix before weighing, a weigher stand and distribution system that was connected to the packaging machine, and a central control unit.

MACHINERY AND PROCESS

The Ishida FFW is an innovative fresh food weigher that combines multi-head weighing with a linear design that allows Gabriel’s operator to manually feed products in order to ensure product consistency and control product giveaway – a matter of concern for the company.

The FFW weighs the food products accurately and at high speed. The scraper gate feature ensures that even very sticky food products are discharged. The machine is also designed to handle the food products carefully to preserve product integrity.

The machine has been designed so that parts that are in contact with the product and that are subject to wear can be easily replaced. This reduces possible downtime, which ensures high production output. The FFW’s flexible layout, compact size, and waterproof, easy-to-clean features make it a simple machine to maintain. Gabriel can connect the FFW to a packaging machine or a filling machine.

Ishida’s CCW-NZ-106B-S/15-WP model has a weighing range of 20g to 1kg and capacity of 500g to 1kg/head. The machine has a weighing volume of 2,500ml at a speed of 35 packs/minute. The FFW accommodates up to 50 presets and has a weighing accuracy of 1g to 3g.

At the Gabriel facility, the FFW is positioned upstream from the Multivac thermoforming machine and the product is packed into trays in 200g, 500g and 1kg sizes, presented three at a time for the smaller packs and in twos for the 1kg tray. The multiple-point discharge distribution system transfers the marinated shellfish and vegetable mix safely into the trays.

HOW THE PROCESS WORKS USING THE FFW

The FFW process is automated and the machine has a linear arrangement of hoppers but the FFW operates like a conventional multi-head weigher. A computer calculates all possible permutations and combinations and selects the one combination of weights that comes closest to the required package weight.

The linear design allows operators to hand-feed the product to a set of linear belt feeders that ensure a consistent product supply to the pool-and-weigh hoppers. All hoppers utilise sliding, anti-stick scraper gates that dislodge product residue.

Products that are already weighed in but not selected for the pack are discharged into another set of hoppers located directly underneath the weigh hoppers. This additional set of hoppers frees up the weigh hoppers making them available for the next weighing and increasing the speed and accuracy of the packaging process.

BENEFITS

The fresh food weighers introduce a new method to the weighing of fresh and sticky products – such as Gabriel’s marinated shellfish and vegetable mix – and this ensures accurate packaging. For the first time, manufacturers and processors of meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy and fresh produce can automate their weighing processes – an integral part of packaging.

The automation has reduced Gabriel’s labour requirements, increased speed and accuracy and dramatically improved the efficiency of its packaging process. FFW’s many features – accurate weighing and reduction of giveaway, the option of a fully or semi-automatic feed system, fast product changeover, easy cleaning and conformity to hygiene regulations – contribute to a rapid return on investment for Gabriel.