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An Ishida packaging line has helped Snellman, a Finnish meat company, increase the output of its minced meat packaging operation by 32.5 per cent while reducing manpower requirements on the line.

The Ishida-devised packaging line has increased the output of Snellman’s minced meat packaging operation from 80 to 106 packs per minute.

The solution includes tray supply, a portion-to-pack system, tray sealing, labelling, comprehensive pack and label inspection, and robotic placing of the packs into crates.

The finished minced meat is formed into a continuous ‘loaf’, which is fed onto backing paper and guillotined into portions of the correct weight.

Each portion passes over a checkweigher and, when it reaches the end of the belt, is carried by its own impetus into a tray that arrives on a belt mechanism just underneath.

Electronic signalling and a tray pause-and-release mechanism ensure the timing is correct, while an Ishida-devised vacuum system under the conveyor belt holds the light plastic trays in place, which contributes to the high speed at which the line can operate.

The tray stream is then split into two, using a diverger, and the twin streams pass into an Ishida QX-1100 tray sealer, which offers fast, servomotor-controlled cycles and high, twin-lane capacity.

After sealing under modified atmosphere, the trays are once more converged into a single stream and top labelled.

They then pass into an Ishida IX-GA-2475 X-ray inspection system and an Ishida seal tester, on which is mounted a vision system for checking label positioning, orientation and data.

This further contributes to the overall efficiency of the line, as it provides thorough checks at a much quicker speed than the human eye.

The line has also led to manpower savings for Snellman and enabled the company to free up staff for other duties.

The previous minced meat line required five people; two of these were involved in packing the finished trays into crates.

In addition a sixth person was looking after the supply of trays and crates.

In contrast, the new line requires only two dedicated workers, and the crate-packing function is now carried out automatically by an Ishida IPS pick-and-place system.

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