Form/fill/seal gets 'a round' efficiently

January 29, 2014

3 Min Read
Form/fill/seal gets 'a round' efficiently

150590-0702royal1.jpg

In product marketing, it's the small improvements that yield subtle positive results. This seems valid especially with established companies selling well-accepted merchandise.

Marketing premium coffees and teas since 1896, Royal Cup Coffee is starting to sip the benefits of this idea after a fruitful visit to Pack Expo 2000. The Birmingham, AL, company is getting "a round" with it very efficiently since its installation of packaging equipment that more than triples output of its 1/2- and 3/4-oz hospitality pouches. But these pouches contain reconfigured pods; they're round, to conform more exactly to the baskets of coffee makers in hotel rooms and to obtain a stronger, more flavorful cup or two of coffee than with a rectangular filter bag.

Though the equipment, on line six months, is considered experimental by Royal Cup plant manager Henry Holden, he's anticipating output increases from the current 120 to 180 per minute, a rate that more than triples that of the machine that still turns out conventional rectangular filter bags in the plant. "I like what I've been seeing the new equipment do for us," he tells PD.

The form/fill/seal line, Fres-co's Universal In Room machine, first produces and fills the filter pod and then forms the outer pouch from two webs on a 3-lane basis. Nitrogen flushing keeps oxygen levels low, eliminating the need for valves.

Working from webstock
148948-0702royal2.jpg The machine works entirely from webstock. For the round coffee pod, the Superseal® heat-sealable paper produced by J.R. Crompton is die cut by a pair of sealing rollers, loaded by auger filler, nitrogen flushed and closed by another set of rollers. Almost simultaneously, two webs beneath it are formed into a pouch–without back fin seal –and nitrogen flushed as the pod drops into it. The webs are converted by RJR packaging of 48-ga metallized polyester adhesive laminated to 2-mil linear low-density polyethylene, surface printed via gravure up to 11 colors.

All of these colors are needed for Royal Cup's Toulouse® Caffe premium arabica blend, which it supplies in regular and decaffeinated, plus another coffee produced under the Royal Cup Dine Mor® trade name. Henry Holden notes that "Both are tasting better since the change to round filters. Rectangular filters are an awkward fit, with a large portion of the hot water bypassing the coffee completely so the coffee's great flavor is never experienced."

The idea for the new configuration, he recalls, came just before Pack Expo 2000. So he and a purchasing team including the operations vice president, operations manager and maintenance manager scoured the show to search for a solution. They chose the Universal machine operating on the show floor and never regretted it. "The system," he says, "operates three times faster than our old machine. By increasing productivity, we're able to reduce overtime and lower labor costs. The finished product is also more attractive, eliminating the seal on the backside." The fin seal is also obviated on the pod "by using two rolls of filter material," he adds.

The company continues to upgrade its packaging procedure. So, he says, "Several of us will be heading back to Chicago in November to see the latest advancements in case packers and palletizers," along with conference visits for ideas on materials and on improving efficiency. "Pack Expo has proven to be a valuable resource for Royal Cup Coffee," he says, "and I anticipate another successful experience this year."

More information is available:

F/f/s machine: Fres-co System USA, 215/721-4600. Circle No. 377.

Filter paper: J.R. Crompton (USA), 770/538-0770. Circle No. 378.

Pouch stock: RJR Packaging, 336/741-5245. Circle No. 379.

Pack Expo: 703/243-8555. Circle No. 380. Or visit www.packexpo.com.

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