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Making Automated Top Seal Punnet Case Loading Affordable to All

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Making Automated Top Seal Punnet Case Loading Affordable to All

Making Automated Top Seal Punnet Case Loading Affordable to All
January 03
15:15 2019

Brillopak has announced its groundbreaking innovation, a new affordable ultra-high speed top seal case packer. Responding to market requests for a versatile, speedy yet affordable top seal punnet packer, the system, which is priced from £87,500, caters specifically to the fresh produce market, where productivity and profit margins are under intense pressure.

Designed to match typical packhouse line speeds of top seal machines widely used in UK fresh produce packing environments, Brillopak’s new BR2 and BR5 Punnet Packer machines reach a top speed of 120 and 180 packs per minute. The concept has impressed several customers so much they have already placed an off-plan order.

Although currently sitting in the top 10 fastest growing food industries, the fresh produce sector ranks 40th for profitability, third from the bottom of the list of all food sectors compiled by business analyst Plimsoll[i]. Since the Brexit referendum, 193 of the UK’s 1225 leading fresh produce companies have reportedly lost more than a quarter of their value in the last 12 months.

Brillopak director David Jahn explains: “Fresh produce is an extremely marginal business and profits continue to be squeezed by inflation, surging commodity costs and price-sensitive consumers. The Plimsoll survey reports that last year each fresh produce firm averaged pre-tax margins of just 1.2%.”

Capable of loading up to 180 top seal punnets and top seal trays per minute into full and half-sized crates, as well as lipped boxes, the BR Punnet Packer Series maximises throughput by collating product into a full layer, lifting and lowering in one seamless motion into the crate or box.

David Jahn adds: “The most common dilemma in punnet packing is not the movement of products, but managing the container in which they are being placed. For example, with soft fruits, K37 is the most popular punnet size. However, because of the dimensions – 184x118x35mm – this size especially is a tight fit when placing into a tapered crate that is narrow at bottom.”

He continues: “With punnets we are dealing with a pack shape that can vary by three millimetres. This can cause punnet edges to catch, overlap or flip when inserting into retailer containers. This in turn slows the line down while an operator manually resolves the issue and flattens the layer, before the next layer can be stacked on top. For many years this has held punnet packers back from investing in a fully automated system.”

To resolve this longstanding issue, Brillopak’s engineers have utilised traditional mechanical techniques redeploying them in innovative ways to both increase speed and maintain consistency of packing. Layers are collated to the side of the container. A crate-sized vacuum end-effector then gently suctions the entire layer, lifting it just enough for a supporting plate to retract, before lowering and pressing the punnets gently into place in the crate. Nothing protrudes and as a result no manual intervention is required.

[i] https://www.plimsoll.co.uk/blog/how-has-the-uk-fresh-produce-market-performed-in-2017

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