GEA has launched new thermoforming technology in the UK that will meet the demands of food companies for faster access to market, while significantly reducing the impact of film waste in the packaging process.
The PowerPak Plus thermoformer’s innovative design, based on customer feedback from a survey conducted by GEA, can help food manufacturers shorten set up and changeover times, while reducing film waste by up to 75%. PowerPak Plus, which made a big impact when unveiled at a recent customer event at GEA’s facility in Germany, can also be operated in tandem with Oxycheck, the non invasive in line quality control system for Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP).
Oxycheck is a measurement system that minimises the risk of product recalls, enhances food safety and limits food waste, whilst saving customers money. This equipment in conjunction with PowerPak Plus provides a perfect combination of quality, process transparency and traceability, according to GEA’s UK product manager thermoforming, Greg Austin.
He explained, ‘Our customers told us what they wanted and we have delivered cutting edge thermoforming technology by overhauling the film systems and upgrading the sealing station. We have designed PowerPak Plus to bring real economic benefits for the food industry through shorter downtime, minimum film waste and the elimination of packaging errors.’
User friendly, flexible and robust, GEA’s next generation thermoforming packaging machine can comfortably handle different printed films and a variety of packing weights and product sizes, making the equipment suitable for a huge range of foods, from meat and poultry to bakery products.
This latest investment by GEA in thermoforming involved optimising PowerPak Plus’s systems for both the top and bottom films which are now motor driven and synchronised with the machine’s advancing cycle. Speeding up the process, combined with the machine’s innovative web tension, facilitates a secure film path preventing curling, while misalignment or curvature can be automatically adjusted. To accommodate the new film set up, the sealing station structure has also been fundamentally redesigned for easy access and is now protected by vertically adjustable and transparent safety doors which can be lowered quickly when required, eliminating the need for loose, protective hoods.
Complementing the new PowerPak Plus thermoformer, GEA’s OxyCheck is technology that meets demand from food producers, retailers and consumers alike by measuring the oxygen content in MAP, helping to ensure that food reaches the end user in prime condition.
Greg added, ‘We integrate Oxycheck into thermoformers without slowing down or stopping the process, which really sets our technology apart. Unlike invasive oxygen measuring techniques on the market that only inspect sample packages, our system inspects all packages produced without damaging the film or breaking the seal.
‘This means that only packages that don’t meet the residual oxygen specifications are discarded and no material or contents are wasted. A single package with deteriorated content can often lead to the rejection of an entire batch to prevent unsafe foods from reaching consumers – and here at GEA we know that the potential costs of a recall can be substantial.’