Even with tried-and-tested processes, there sometimes are still opportunities for innovation. And just because something works, doesn't mean you have to rest on your laurels. Strauss Verpackungsmaschinen Ltd took this to heart last year.
Strauss has been known for decades for its machines for asparagus, apple and leek preparation and packaging, which sometimes are misappropriated for other types of fruit and vegetables as well.
"In recent years, our conventional leek banding machine, which has proven its worth to growers for more than 20 years, has also been used to package more and more rhubarb in addition to leek during the rhubarb season. Initially, the majority of leeks and rhubarb were packed in flowpacks, but then the share of banded goods increased. We took this as an opportunity to adapt our banding to the product somewhat and now two new rhubarb machines are already in operation for this season," Sales Manager Matthias Kinzel explains.
Although the products are similar, they pack differently. The rhubarb machine fits seamlessly into the Strauss production line. "Our automatic weighing machine places the weighed units into the product tray of the banding machine. This then drives the product through the tape and then it is sealed by the gluing heads. With our adaptations for rhubarb and other products, we have been able to increase capacity by 10-15% over the older leek banding," he reports.
Banding is becoming more and more popular as a more sustainable packaging alternative: "The demand for packaging with less material or without film is still very high. The new banding machine can be used to bundle and strap other products, such as cucumbers or celery, in addition to leeks and rhubarb."
The season is now also in full swing for asparagus, one of the main products for Strauss Verpackungsmaschinen: "As the weather has been rather cold in recent weeks, asparagus growth has still been somewhat hesitant. Consequently, demand in Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic and other countries was very high - but the asparagus was slow to arrive. Thanks to the sunny weather of the last few days, however, things should really get going now," the expert predicts.
"Our service technicians are in the process of getting the last machines out of hibernation, and carrying out commissioning at the customer's site. Innovations such as the label applicator in our GUB buncher, which places a label around the elastic band before applying it to the asparagus bundle, are in use at the first customers. The advantages of this system, besides an attractive advertising space, is to print daily updated data on the label. So all our customers are ready for the 2021 season!"