In August 2005 Whitelink Seafoods, a fish processor, for more than 30 years employing more than 100 people, invested in Ulma’s Atlanta Pack, a shrink packaging machine, to cope with the increasing demand for its trays of prawns. Whitelink, located in Fraserburgh, Scotland (3,000 m² facility), is one of Europe’s technically advanced and quality-conscious fish processors. The company makes thorough quality checks at every stage of the process.

The company processes and exports a wide variety of fish including shellfish, salmon, dover sole, swordfish, crevettes, langoustine, prawns and sea bream. Over 80% of UK fish is landed in Scotland and Whitelink have the facilities to obtain the best of the catch and process it for export to Europe and domestic distribution. The company has also opened a new factory and distribution centre in Boulogne in the north of France, which alongside sales outlets in Spain and Germany gives it an ideal European distribution network.

As the demand for Whitelink’s trays of prawns has grown, the company has needed to expand its packaging capacity to effectively manage it. After studying the various shrink-wrapping machinery available in the market, Whitelink decided to invest in Ulma’s Atlanta Pack as it serves the food markets and is capable of dealing with the fish processors varied needs. Ulma Packaging is a Spanish company that specialises in design and production of packaging machinery and services.

Ulma’s Atlanta Pack is a horizontal packing system that services a range of food-related markets. The shrink wrapping machinery operates at high-speeds, features a versatile format change and is reliable. Whitelink has achieved better product packaging, to retain the fresh quality (contents need to be kept refridgerated) and realise a higher turnover with the Atlanta pack.

Director Graeme Sutherland, the son of the company’s managing director and founder James Sutherland, carried out extensive research on the internet and considered a number of companies. He particularly liked the range of machines on offer on the Ulma Packaging website. He commented: 'I liked what I learned on the telephone even more, so we decided on an Atlanta and have not regretted it. It really is doing the job very well, coping with everything we are throwing at it. And the operators are certainly enjoying the fact that it is very easy to use. Two of the big pluses are the high-speed operation and the reliability. Everything has been absolutely perfect, which will mean I will not hesitate to trust Ulma again next time we have a new packaging need.'

SHRINK-WRAPPING MACHINES

The shrink-wrapping machines, working with retractable films, obtain a high quality package without folds. This is achieved by passing the package through a shrinkage oven, which adapts film to the product shape and dimensions. Whitelink invested in the Ulma’s Atlanta Pack, as it was found to be particularly suitable for fish packaging.

Atlanta Pack is ergonomically designed, which allows for quick and easy cleaning (clean-in-place) and enables Whitelink to incorporate a range of feeders. Whitelink has also installed Ulma’s HRX shrink tunnel, in which the film is shrunk by a stream of hot air. The product is then immediately directed by conveyor to the refrigerated warehouse for secondary packaging prior to shipping.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION AND FEATURES

Whitelink realised the advantage of Atlanta’s vertical plate construction, which makes it easier for machine cleaning apart from mechanical and electrical maintenance. The logical functioning – from left to right – reduces the learning curve for Whitelink’s operators. The machine features cross-welding spinning clamps with effort limiter, three pairs of longitudinal film welding and dragging rollers and self-centering coil support with lever brake.

The 2m-long feeding unit, stretchable forming mould and elliptical cutting speed adjustment enhance efficiency and consistency of product. Whitelink can adjust the pack length by using the controls of the LCD screen, which also performs machine parameter adjustment, diagnosis and information of machine state. The shrink packaging machine is capable of storing 25 different product parameters and recalling them when required.

The HRX-300 shrinking tunnel is electronically controlled, has strong construction with corrosion-resistant materials (INOX) and three heating modules with temperature-independent regulation. In each module the hot air flow direction and regulation can be manipulated depending on the need of the packaging solution. The shrink tunnel is an elaborate, easy-to-clean oven and has a cover that can be opened. The speed can be set for variations in the heating module engines and also for the transport belt.

The different types and lengths of feeding units and different automatic feeding systems make the machine more efficient.

As a seafood processor, Whitelink is particular about the cleanliness of the machinery and ease in maintenance so Atlanta’s stainless machine tailored for wet and refrigerated environments is suitable for its needs.