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Icing on the cake for Orchard

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Extruding a very thick and sticky paste into accurate pack sizes has always proved difficult. Paul Herbison writes for Packaging.

Extruding a very thick and sticky paste into accurate pack sizes, has always proved to be very difficult. This was the experience of Orchard Manufacturing who produce two such products, a thick paste of semi dried fruits they brand as Nu Lax – and thick ready to use icings for Christmas and wedding cakes.

“Our packaging system, before the upgrade, was labour intensive and repetitive. Changing and cleaning between products, was very time consuming,” managing director Neil Clinton and Murray Weir, who is in charge of production explained.

“The products we are processing, particularly the paste, are inclined to adhere to the machinery,” explained Neil.

For the benefit of operating staff, management decided to try and eliminate the repetitive elements.

“Our solution was to call in a specialist who was prepared to understand our needs and then develop a machine design which would meet our various requirements.

“After talking with a number of companies we found such an organization was not easy to identify,” explained Neil.

Orchard Manufacturing eventually found, Australian Filling and Packaging Machines (APFM) , who worked with them to perfect a machine design.

“The outcome was a system to extrude and wrap retail portions of both the paste and icings which are supplied to a range of retailers, including Coles and Safeway supermarkets. And, in addition to the domestic market, we also supply export markets.

“APFM developed a system to accurately deliver various pack sizes to be wrapped and sealed.

“Now, we have a system where the product is formed, filled and sealed in one operation. The system is reliably delivering correct weight portions,” added Neil.

“The key to a more productive system was a design study, at the start of the project. It identified most problems with a very difficult process,” explained AFPM’s Paul Herbison.

“The contribution made by Orchard cannot be understated, although we have the experience with machine design it is only when a customer really understands their product and is prepared to work together in automating a process can a successful system be developed.”

The system has been running since mid 2003 without problems and has proven to be a major productivity increase for Orchard.

Australian Filling and Packaging Machines worked with Go Packaging to provide the packaging line.

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