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Pouching output improves 70 percent

Ann and Edward Zinke founded Ann’s House of Nuts in 1973 on their household kitchen deck. From this humble beginning, the company has grown to become a major international manufacturer of nuts, dried fruit and related snack items.

As reflected by the company’s trademarked motto, Quality You Can See™, Ann’s House of Nuts aims to deliver the best-quality nut and dried-fruit products at reasonable prices. The company’s products, ranging from nut and fruit mixes, dried apricots and honey nut crunch to roasted, salted cashews and chocolate-dipped pretzels, are carried by major retailers, mass merchants, clubstores and grocery stores throughout the U.S. The company also exports its quality nut and fruit products to retailers in Canada, the U.K., Mexico and the Caribbean.

Over the years, Ann’s House of Nuts has expanded its operations to include two production facilities in Jessup, MD, and Robersonville, NC. Despite its rapid growth during the past decades, the company has maintained its core dedication to quality. To uphold this goal, the nut and fruit snack provider has consistently incorporated innovative technological solutions to preserve product excellence while also increasing efficiency and contributing to bottom-line gains.

After a successful visit to the last PACK EXPO International (www.packexpo.com), Edward Zinke purchased horizontal form/fill/seal equipment that has helped Ann’s House of Nuts increase output for its packaged nut and fruit products by approximately 70 percent.

Prior to Zinke’s visit to PACK EXPO International, the hf/f/s equipment Ann’s House of Nuts used in its production facilities posed considerable operational challenges. One piece of equipment was running pouches at speeds up to 25-percent slower than what was guaranteed by the manufacturer upon purchase. In addition, in spite of the manufacturer’s guarantee, the machinery wasn’t designed to fully withstand a washdown.

“Our existing equipment was very inefficient,” notes Zinke. “For example, we needed to devote a significant amount of time and manpower to manually wash down the equipment in order to meet sanitation standards.”

As demand for Ann’s House of Nuts’ quality products increased, Zinke realized that new, automated equipment was needed to streamline the company’s packaging processes. After reviewing the latest technologies and meeting with technical experts from exhibiting companies during PACK EXPO International, Zinke purchased a C-1250A high-speed hf/f/s system from Robert’s Packaging, Inc. (www.robertspackaging.com).

Versatile and flexible, Robert’s C-series continuous-motion f/f/s machines are, in effect, many systems in one. They can be configured to produce a large variety of pouches for virtually any need and help cut packaging costs and increase production efficiencies, while improving quality.

Unlike their experience with the company’s previous f/f/s equipment, which required up to six weeks to become operational, engineers at Ann’s House of Nuts were able to install the Robert’s C-1250A without external assistance and began running it immediately. Within one week, the machinery was operating smoothly at a packaging rate of 130 to 135 units/min, which is 44- to 50-percent faster than the company’s previously fastest f/f/s equipment. The addition of the C-1250A has ultimately enabled Ann’s House of Nuts to boost output of its packaged nuts and fruit snack items by between 68 and 71 percent.

“The new Robert’s packaging system has enabled our company to meet the needs of our customers more effectively,” says Zinke. “The system is also easier to operate and maintain, and changeovers take between fifty-eight- and seventy-five-percent less time than they did for our older machinery. By using the C-1250A, operators with less experience can take part in our form/fill/seal packaging efforts for the first time.”

Ann’s House of Nuts was also able to find additional technologies to help optimize its operations as a result of Zinke’s attendance at PACK EXPO International. After meeting with technical experts from Heat and Control, Inc. (www.heatandcontrol.com) during the show, Zinke purchased a customized HWF-5428 HeatWave® fryer to obtain completely uniform cooking for his company’s nut-roasting operations. The machine is currently the largest nut roaster in the world, featuring a breakthrough design that cooks with curtains of clean, filtered oil to maximize product quality.

Zinke also met with representatives from Change Parts, Inc. (www.changeparts.com), which performed an extensive rebuild of the capping equipment that Ann’s House of Nuts used for packaging snack-nut items in rigid polyethylene terephthalate containers. The proprietary, new design currently allows the capping machinery to meet the company’s production requirements more efficiently.

“The HeatWave fryer and redesigned capping machine will be valuable additions to our processing and packaging efforts,” remarks Zinke. “PACK EXPO is the only place where we could have found so many solutions to our previous production challenges.”

Zinke says he will return to PACK EXPO International this October with members of his staff to review the latest packaging innovations and to build relationships with existing retail customers.

“PACK EXPO is a terrific place to get acquainted with a lot of packaging technologies and ideas all at once,” comments Zinke. “I’m definitely going to bring a team of employees to research how the latest innovations in packaging machinery and materials can help our company maintain and surpass the rates of growth that we have achieved every year since we started thirty-three years ago.”


More information is available:
Change Parts, Inc., 231/845-5107. www.changeparts.com.
Heat and Control, Inc., 800/227-5980. www.heatandcontrol.com.
Pack Expo International, 703/243-8555. www.packexpo.com.
Roberts Packaging, Inc., 269/962-5525. www.robertspackaging.com.
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