Supervac pushes the boundaries of packaging automation

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04 Apr 2018 --- Vacuum packaging innovators, Supervac, presented a new automated packaging machine at Anuga FoodTec 2018 in Cologne, capable of combining flexible packaging sizes in a continuous and fully automatic filling and loading process. Alexander Aigner, Managing Partner of Supervac, speaks to FoodIngredientsFirst at the show about the performance potential of the new machine.

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Supervac at Anuga FoodTec 2018, Cologne

Until now, customers have had to choose between vacuum packaging that can be flexibly adjusted to different sizes but uses a filling and loading process that involves manual work, or staying with standardized packaging sizes in an automated process. This new development from Supervac means that it is now possible for the first time to combine these features: flexible packaging sizes in a continuous and fully automatic filling and loading process.

“This is the first time that we can show the public our new development. This is a new machine for automatic packaging, with two basic steps,” says Alexander Aigner. “The first step is that we take the product, such as cheese or meat automatically into a vacuum pack. The second is that we bring this vacuum pack automatically onto the belt of the packaging machine.”

Alexander Aigner was quick to highlight that Supervac has responded to increased customer demand for automated machinery with this new development. The demand can be attributed to a number of factors. Firstly, it is about reducing the number of personnel carrying out monotonous work. This saves money by cutting the number of operators that have to be available, especially during expensive periods such as night work or overtime.

“Basically the process from the beginning until the shrinking can be done by one operator. This means a reduction in human resources and to use them for more valued jobs,” says Alexander Aigner.

It is also a problem for many companies to find – and keep – suitable personnel. It is common for customers to complain about constant staff turnover, which involves continuous training or the risk of having insufficiently trained operators. Yet it's also about gaining flexibility at peak times because with an automated plant that requires little manpower, it's easier to adapt production to fit the company's order book. Supervac also claims that, when automation is used properly, not only is the production process continuous, but hygiene levels are also significantly improved.

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Supervac's automated packaging machine, capable of combining
​​​​​flexible packaging sizes in a continuous and fully automatic filling and loading process 

“The target group for this machine is fresh meat, but it can also be packaged cheese and processed cheese. This is the first time we are presenting this machine. We have developed it and we will install it very soon with a customer plant and afterward, we are open to starting the production in a serial way.”

Supervac’s automation solutions are based on standard, tried and tested machines. Customers can substantially improve the cost-effectiveness of automation with the new machinery, as sub-processes like the bag filling and machine loading processes can now or later be further automated in modules. If, for example, the optimal way to operate a large vacuum packaging machine is often carried out with several people for bag filling and machine loading, then it is possible to remove several people from the process with a fully automated line. Supervac suggests that these now redundant operators could then be used in other areas of the company, as only one person is required for the operation and monitoring of the plant.

The Austrian innovators outline how the new automated packaging process works: the raw products to be packaged come in different sizes and are measured at the beginning of the line. It is then packaged with the correct shrink bag of the right size. Six different bag formats are available at any one time. Finally, the bags themselves can also be automatically loaded onto a vacuum packaging machine. Here the size is also taken into account when the bag is placed on the chamber belt. The aim of the line is to achieve a consistently high output of vacuum packaged products and to achieve this as efficiently as possible in terms of human resources.

Supervac also took the opportunity at Anuga FoodTec 2018 to showcase another new machine for the first time: a newly developed cooling tank. This machine can be positioned immediately after a shrink tank for the production of shrink packaging, making it ideal for integration into a modern vacuum packing line. After shrinking with hot water, the products are immediately cooled down, using the smallest possible footprint. It is designed to prevent color changes and significantly improves product life, as confirmed by a university study. The tank’s main areas of application are in the packaging of fresh meat.

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Supervac's new cooling system for the production of shrink packaging

With fifty years of experience, Supervac is an established technological leader in the field of vacuum packaging machines, shrinking and drying equipment. The company offers both series production equipment and tailor-made system solutions based on individual requirements.

By Joshua Poole

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