Safe, easy-care, sustainable. The early childhood Foodpack of the future

Published: 20/06/2023

A growing consumer attention to sustainability pushed Kraft Heinz to reconsider the packaging of fruit puree snack and meat and vegetable snack for the international market, both Plasmon and Heinz branded all of them produced in the historic factory in Latina.

Nowadays, snacks are available in easy-care pouches with re-sealable cap, made of plastic mono-material – hence easily recyclable – packed in cardboard boxes and displays that reduce the environmental impact considerably.

The project by the U.S. International company owner of the Plasmon brand covered various steps of the chain of production, from selection of 100% raw materials of Italian origin to the cooking and filling process, where they shifted from the traditional thermal system to aseptic filling.

Such a change also had an important impact on the production lines, bringing a significant benefit on the energy efficiency front, today extremely critical and at the same time strategic for production companies.

“Just to give an idea of the global impact of this project, suffice to consider that the volume  produced exceeds 3,000 tons per year corresponding to more than 30 million pouches produced with a variety of 56 recipes including fruit, meat and dessert”, explains Enrico Pucci, Engineering Project Manager (consultant) – Latina, The Kraft Heinz Company.

“The degree of product innovation is proven by some targets like 1st world producer of baby food in 100% recyclable aseptic pouches, 1st manufacturer of fully recyclable pouches on the Italian market and the highly-rated acknowledgement UK Packaging Awards 2022 – Highly Commended in the Flexible Plastic Pack of the Year 2022 class”.

“It is also impossible not to mention the benefit in terms of packaging material reduction: we calculated a saving of 250 tons of plastic per year”, adds Mr. Pucci.

A project worth telling, accomplished with the involvement of partners like Cft for process machinery, Ima for the aseptic chain of production and Cama and Clevertech, respectively for packaging and end-of-line. These are all excellent Italian companies in their core business at a global level.

What we are going to tell you is the experience of Cama and Clevertech, both part of the Smart Packaging Hub, offering ad hoc designed and implemented secundary and tertiary packaging solutions.

Secondary packaging and end-of-line: an innovative and integrated solution 

Pulling the strings of the project, an integrated packaging and end-of-line system, was Clevertech, a specialist of the design of end-of-line integrated solutions in various industries, among which the Food & Beverage sector; the company took care of the relationship with Kraft Heinz as single point of contact to deliver a turnkey system.

“With our solution, we contribute a large part to the production of the good and take it to the last stage, that of logistics to deliver the product to the point of sale, hence to the consumer”, explains Luca Carollo, Clevertech Business Development and Key Account Kraft Heinz.

“For implementing the pouches packaging system we involved Cama, a leader in secondary packaging machines and integrated systems, which developed a very innovative proposal”.

The system can package 240 pouches/minute with an upgrade to 360 pouches/minute. The fully automated solution includes two parallel operating wrap around units that can manage different formats of pouches, in different units, producing both boxes and display trays to sell single items. The project expansion plans to integrate a third unit to increase the packaging speed to 360 ppm.

Today’s machine suppliers must be able to ensure that the system can be expanded to meet future needs of the client, thus ensuring an easy return on investment (ROI)” states Mr. Carollo.

The system includes an end-of-line and palletizing section, designed by Clevertech applying a concept that revolutionises the traditional end-of-line layout.

The added value of the synergy of skills

The rationale behind the Smart Packaging Hub – five companies with peculiar skills in the packaging supply chain – is the range of their know-how, as if they were a single supplier able to meet the requirements of most of multinational consumer goods companies which prefer a single point of contact.

“The strength of this collaboration is also found in the ability to suggest the best solution to the customer in a partnership logic, while changing the client-supplier relationship pattern. From selling a solution to implementing a system, not only custom made but also offering benefits in terms of return on investment, thanks to a different approach and to listening to the client”, adds Mr. Carollo.

In this setting, Clevertech can read automation and implement fully robotised lines, while Cama manufactures cutting edge packaging machines and develops in house skills to design saving inspired innovative packaging.

Sustainability led the re-design of secondary packaging

The development of primary packaging from a green perspective also led to redesigning the packaging for retail selling based on the same criteria and to obtaining top flexibility.

“It is just here where we maximised the cooperation between client and supplier, when Cama with its know-how could support the entire process from designing cases and boxes to selecting the material, hence realising the added value of Smart Packaging Hub to our full satisfaction”, added Mr. Pucci.

“Single pouches of different formats – from 85 grams to 220 grams – are packed vertically in a four to six pouches case that is also a tray to sell loose pouches. In turn, cases can be packed in a larger box also to be used as a display to sell cases and, at the same time acting as a tertiary packaging that makes transport on pallets easier”, explains Sergio Cornago, Sales Manager Cama.

“A client submits a request and with our System Engineering team we realise a design that meets his requirements and is compatible with the machines that will process the packaging”.

The in-house development of packaging is a requirement that identifies Cama among packaging machines manufacturers. Another important point is a range of different machine types – Side Loading and Top Loading – that allow developing extremely creative packaging solutions.

The end-of-line is now functional for logistics

Another important innovation of the project covers the location of the palletising system; as suggested by the Clevertech technical team, contrary to what was mentioned by the client, they located the system next to the finished product warehouses, hence reducing the transfer cost by means of lift trucks and obtaining an interesting benefit in terms of ROI.

Again, the technical contribution of the general contractor Clevertech, made it possible to optimise the layout offering a clear economic and energy saving benefit”, as Mr. Pucci points out.

In fact, a flexible product-handling machine was realised, to meet the requirement of managing different package formats.

“By means of two robotised manipulators, packages of different sizes are aligned so as to automatically build a layer, that will be transferred onto a pallet” Mr. Carollo explains. “Hereinafter, two manipulators will increase the palletising speed from 240 ppm to 360 ppm only adding a module, without having to integrate an additional manipulator”.

The integrated, complete end-of-line system includes pre-formation input transports, Cartesian pre-formation systems, pallet store and feeder, palletising, vertical frame applicator on pallet, pallet wrapper and labelling unit.

Pack ML, an interoperability standard

The system developed by Cama-Clevertech meets the Pack ML requirements, an aspect of no small importance. Pack ML (Packaging Machine Language) is a technical standard of the industry to control packaging machines as part of industrial automation.

It is a universal system to “write” the automation software on board the machine. Essentially, they are guidelines that make it possible to obtain interoperable systems.

“Indeed, a major achievement, as it allows analysing performance data coming from machines of different suppliers that apply Pack ML” Mr. Carollo points out.

The first release – set up by a consumer product multinational company to solve machine compatibility issues – goes back to 2003; however, only today are other groups demanding systems from their suppliers that comply with Pack ML. The benefit offered by such companies like Cama and Clevertech is that they have been developing for not less than a decade standardised Pack ML suitable software.

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