Packaging Automation (UK) have celebrated 45 years as the well-known UK designers and manufacturers of tray sealing and filling equipment. A look back at the last 45 years gives an insight not just into the changes at Packaging Automation, but at the phenomenal developments in the food industry over that period. Packaging Automation equipment is distributed by MPI in Australia.
The business has come a long way since founder Arthur Penn designed his first heat sealing machine at the family home in Green Hedges, Cheshire in 1963.
Early customers included Cadbury, Mars, United Biscuits and Birdseye, who were packaging new desserts, confectionery, pies and biscuits. Right from the start, Packaging Automation were recognised as experts in the field, and when manufacturers started to look at automating their packing, they turned to Packaging Automation for help.
Throughout the 1970s, Packaging Automation continued to design new machines, including the first PA182. This decade saw real growth in the attractiveness of convenience foods with Marks & Spencer offering pre-made flans and pies.
In another major step forward in the early 1980s, Packaging Automation launched their first modified atmosphere machine - the PA182CAP. At this time the business took a risk and started to offer rental machines, a bold innovation in the relatively young tray sealing market. This allowed food manufacturers to speculate on the growth of convenience foods without the need for risky capital investment.
Following the launch of "ready meal" - Golden Wonder's "Pot Noodle" in 1977 - the ready meal concept started to become well-liked in the mid 1980s and demand for sealing equipment saw a significant increase. As technology advanced, an "ovenable" tray became available fuelling the demand for heat sealing equipment even further.
This was also the time when ready to eat salads and prepared fruit started to appear on the supermarket shelves. Manufacturers were quick to see the potential of sealed trays for products like sausages, burgers, fish, cakes and pies.
The 1990s saw the move to Packaging Automation’s current premises in Knutsford, and the development of a fully computerised design suite and a stainless steel fabrication factory. Automation became the key word as food manufacturers expected faster packing speeds and demand for MAP increased further.
Packaging Automation responded by introducing the Vision range of new automatic machines, which have continued to evolve. This year saw the launch of the eco-cut tray sealer, which helps companies to cut costs through reduced film usage and lower downtime. New lean manufacturing practices have been introduced to the business and are driving down delivery lead times and improving the service Packaging Automation can offer even further.
Commenting during the celebrations, Chairman Anthony Penn, Son of the Founder, said: "Whilst there have been huge changes in terms of technology and machine design over the past 45 years, some things at Packaging Automation have stayed the same - the commitment to manufacturing the best machines, our pride in being a truly British company, the constant drive to improve and innovate to meet the needs of the market, and offering a level of service which is second to none."