Food packaging expansion

MeMeMe Inc. of Canada needed to increase production as supermarkets and food service operators were increasing orders for its Marcy’s and private label brands of premium croutons and stuffings.

This was a major expansion for the company as it called for integration of equipment from different suppliers in order to meet specific requirements both packaging and budget.

“The sales and engineering staff at Heat and Control worked hand-in-hand with us to design a system that would meet our operating specifications for throughput, reliability and sanitation, while meeting our budgetary target” recalls Bruce Luczak, MeMeMe’s plant manager.

Heat and Control took on the role as project manager for the project in its entirety, from design to installation and start-up.

Considering the delicate handling required for croutons and the potential for future production growth, a Fastback 90E horizontal motion conveyor, a washdown Ishida RS 14-head computer combination weigher, a Ceia metal detector and a pre-made horizontal pouching machine were used.

The Fastback 90E was selected because of its gentle slow-forward fast-back conveying motion that greatly reduces product damage compared to vibratory conveying.

It also eliminates unscheduled cleaning downtime because coatings do no build up in the conveyor pan.

Fastback conveyors deliver the highest travel rates of any horizontal motion conveyor and efficiently convey heavy loads. Instant stop-start product feed to the Ishida weigher improves packaging efficiency.

The first of its kind in Canada, the Ishida CCW-RS-214W-S/30-WP weigher features washdown construction.

Sized according to MeMeMe’s present anticipated production volumes, the weigher will operate at double the present speed without creating a bottleneck in the production process.

At the discharge of the weigher — the final checkpoint before packaging — croutons pass through a Ceia metal detector.

Metal detection at this point assures that all product has passed every potential location where metal could enter the product stream before it is packaged by a horizontal pouching machine.

Heat and Control worked directly with the supplier to ensure the potential interface issues were addressed prior to equipment arriving on site.

MeMeMe contracted a local vendor to fabricate and install the support platform.

Heat and Control provided drawings and technical assistance to assure trouble-free integration of all components.

“The equipment was delivered on time” explains plant manager Luczak, “and the user-friendly touch screen operator interface on the Ishida scale made training and product integration effortless”.

MeMeMe now produces bag sizes ranging from 125 grams to 680 grams.

“Operating speeds on our 125gram pouch increased over 200% while maintaining an oxygen residual under 1% (products are gas-flushed for extended shelf life)”, says Luczak.

“Giveaway and underweight products have been all but eliminated,” he says.

“We have averaged under 1kg per day total giveaway, or 0.1%, which is down significantly down from our previous levels of 2.5 to 3%.

“Moreover, the versatility of the equipment has enabled us to switch all of our larger food service formats over to this equipment, which had produced significant labour savings,” he adds.

Design features on the equipment allow our sanitation team to easily disassemble and clean the Ishida weigher quickly and thoroughly to meet HACCP requirements.

In fact, the accuracy, reliability and speed of the Ishida scale enable QA, maintenance and supervisory staff to focus on their other duties”.

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