Kowloon Dairy, China, which markets products in the southern China region, as well as Fuzhou and Xiamen, invested in Benco Pack’s ‘aseptic’ Form-Fill-Seal (FFS) machine in April 2005 for the production of mini-portions of coffee creamers. Kowloon Dairy produces a variety of milk drinks, ice cream products, stickline and novelty items and supplies coffee creamers, soft ice cream mixes, shake mixes and dipping ice cream to offices and institutions. The Chinese dairy has been producing the new long shelf life mini-portions of coffee creamers in its Guangzhou facility since June 2005.
Kowloon Dairy chose Benco Pack’s Miniasepack/20-b horizontal thermo-forming machine as it incorporates hi-tech solutions that are compatible with dairies. Kowloon Dairy’s long-standing experience with using Ultra High Temperature (UHT) processing enabled it to achieve longer shelf life for its products. The aseptic technology involves sterilisation and drying processes.
The mini-portion pack machine was installed at Kowloon Dairy’s existing plant and has been in production since June 2005.
Benco Pack, a part of the Sacmi Imola Group, manufactures FFS machines and systems. Benco’s Miniasepack/20-b FFS machine produces 10ml and 15ml mini-portions of coffee creamers at the rate of 18,000 to 100,000 cups per hour. Kowloon invested in Benco Pak’s aseptic equipment with a sterile system that allows the total sterilisation of the packaging materials in hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) baths at a concentration of 35%. Hydrogen peroxide has the advantage of being a powerful disinfectant that decomposes to oxygen and water and so leaves no residue on the single portion cartons being sterilised that could taint the milk or cream. Peroxide radicals are the medium of disinfection.
MACHINERY AND TECHNICAL INFORMATION
Kowloon Dairy chose the Miniasepack/20-b for its mini-portion coffee creamer pack because it is a fully aseptic packaging line for fresh and UHT cream and liquid products. The machine comes with two different cutting units, one for singles conveyed on the side of the machine and packed at random and another for multi-packs with outlet in the front. This allows the automatic pre-selection of cutting configuration without adjustment or disassembling of the cutting unit.Change-overs are thus simplified and down time is minimised.
The Miniasepack/20-b FFS machine carries out several sterilisation processes at various stages of the packaging process. Before the packaging cycle, the machine automatically steam-sterilises the filling group and all the parts that come into contact with the product, as well as the air filters and the packaging tunnel. The pre-sterilisation is achieved with the easily produced H2O2 mist.
The machine uses sterile air (or inert gas) in the feeding tank and along the aseptic tunnel, where the heating, forming, filling and film edge pre-sealing takes place, to prevent contamination. Temperature controlled steam barriers protect the mechanical drives in the aseptic tunnel. The packaging materials are sterilized prior to entering the sterile filling zone where an aseptic filling unit operates.
The packaging material is sterilised in a H2O2 bath (35% concentration) at a constant temperature of 50°C to 55°C. Mechanical dryers, sterile air blows and infrared ray lamps completely remove any H2O2 or its residue (the only residue will be water as hydrogen peroxide will decompose to water and oxygen when heated) from both films after sterilisation.
The cup lids are sealed and cut outside the sterile zone because the pre-sealing of the two films ensures that the inside of the cup, and therefore the product, is completely isolated from the external environment. Since the new generation of packaging lines are all designed with 3D software tools – Windows-based touch-screen panel, control systems connected through fieldbus (profibus standard) – the possibility of easy diagnostics and even remote assistance appealed to Kowloon Dairy.
Kowloon Dairy’s investment in Benco Pack’s FFS machine has enabled the company to extend its product range to cater to offices, large organizations and institutions. The machinery and the technology ensure that Kowloon’s mini-portion coffee creamer is packed under strict sterilised conditions and is of high quality (the attention to detail in the sterilisation and packaging gives the mini-portions the long shelf life required for this application).