Burg Machinefabriek introduces third generation flowpack in-feed machine
“Flowpacking comes down to one apple”
Flowpacking apples is on the rise globally, but is still in its infancy in the Netherlands. Burg Machinefabriek developed a flowpack line for top fruit a few years ago, which has been optimised even more with the new generation BFI 3.0. “The biggest challenge is that you must have a continual product flow, it all comes down to one apple,” says Arjan van Burg. The machinery manufacturer supplied the in-feed line for the flowpack machine to various packers in the UK and Germany. “That demand is mostly driven by demand from supermarkets. Once retailers are ready for it, it can suddenly go very quickly. In the Netherlands and Belgium the acceptance process doesn’t go that quickly.”
The uniqueness of the machine is that it’s suitable to filling trays, but can also be used tray-less. The BFI 3.0 flowpack in-feed system is mostly used in combination with empty box systems, so that both dry and wet pre-sorted product can be put in. According to Arjan, working with a water dumper has preference. “Compared to other machines on the market, this BFI is price-competitive, the capacity of up to 70 packs per minute can be called unique. The system is capable of very high speeds, and the product is always handled fruit-friendly. Depending on the application, various options are possible to connect to the needs of the customer, such as an automatic punnet de-nester.”
“With the capacity of the BFI – up to 420 fruits per minute, depending on type of product and packaging – makes us different from other solutions. We automated a large number of operations, that would otherwise have to be handled manually. The challenge was to realise a continual supply flow. It’s not easy to buffer something that’s emptied batch-wise in a continual flow to the flowpacker. And the higher the speed, the more critical it all becomes. Thanks to the transport belts, which can operate at different speeds independently from each other and have a weighing function, among other things, we succeeded in having the buffer function built in, so that we’ve realised 100 per cent filling over the diabolo-rolls. Everything has been coupled. And it has to be, because if the supply hasn’t been taken care of, the machine doesn’t work. An added advantage is that the controls for this latest version are very user-friendly,” Michael Ots says.
The apples are mostly packed as four or six apples in rows of two, but two, eight or ten pieces or a single row are also options. The advantages of the flowpack are evident according to Michael. “A pre-printed film results in a much more appealing presentation. Besides, it’s interesting from a sustainability point of view, because you use much less plastic than when you have a standard packaging. People tend to be worried about denting the fruit, but the flowpack machines can pack the fruit so tightly it doesn’t move at all.”
“Our strength is that we make a difference with total projects, supplying all peripheral equipment and packing machines in the packing station. The sorting machine naturally remains the centre of the sorting line, but we work with all well-known machine builders for that,” Arjan says. When asked if the flowpack machine can also be used for other fruit, the machine builder answers: “We’re still researching it. Especially for round fruits, such as tomatoes, there appear to be possibilities. In other countries we expect they’ll switch to similar packing in the long term, because the method of a flowpack machine that packs horizontally results in less loss in addition to the higher speed, and is therefore more product-friendly.”
Arjan van Burg
Publication date: 11/7/2017
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