Meeting seasonal demand by hiring high specification, automatic packaging equipment has proved successful for a grower of top quality tomatoes in the UK - helping to control costs and reduce product waste.
In embarking on its second season working with leading packaging equipment manufacturer Packaging Automation, Humber VHB has upgraded from hiring a semiautomatic PA182 tray sealer to a fully automatic Vision 182 system. Packaging Automation's equipment is distributed in Australia by MPI.
The Vision 182 is a compact in-line, automatic machine, for heat sealing reel-fed film lids to preformed trays and containers.
To ease the transfer from the semiautomatic system to the Vision 182 and keep costs down, Packaging Automation converted the tool from the PA182 machine.
Humber VHB's engineering manager, Paul Underwood, commented: "The decision to hire equipment again from Packaging Automation was easy because we had such good performance from the PA182 and excellent support from PA the year before."
He explained that the company is also achieving less downtime and significant labour savings - last year the tomato line was operated with up to three people and now just a single operator manages the complete line.
Producing two different pack weights - 200g and 450g punnets of loose, small tomatoes for the leading UK supermarkets, Humber VHB is achieving throughput of over 30 packs per minute.
The Vision 182 is packing the tomatoes into clear, pre-formed plastic trays and applies a clear plastic film to which standard, printed self-adhesive labels are applied. The full line include: a transfer conveyor, checkweighers and a print and apply labelling system.
Underwood added: "Everything about the company is very good, from the engineering quality of the machines, to the company's response, technical knowledge and support, which are all excellent. They make it easy for us in terms of continuity as we only need to deal with a dedicated person and we hope we will be able to progress to buying equipment from PA."
Designed for manufacturers automating existing semiautomatic production lines, the Vision 182 provides quick tool changes, PLC control, an easy to use touch screen, menu driven operation and self-diagnostics for error reporting.
The stainless steel guarding and sealed machine bed are designed for hygiene and easy cleaning. The Vision 182 can be equipped with a variable length chain conveyor, tray denesters, autofillers, labeller and date code printer facilities.
Packaging Automation's technical sales engineer Rebecca Chung said that the project was a good example of how Packaging Automation's quality equipment, flexible hire deals, and backup and support all combine to make an ideal package for customers.