Tray sealers for strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries

proseal tray sealers are achieving speeds of up to 115 packs per minute, sealing a range of soft fruits at leading grower and packer S&A Produce of Marden, near Hereford

  • Tray sealers for strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
    Tray sealers for strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries

Since the introduction of the tray sealers, S&A says that in addition to the high throughput, the machines have helped to improve product quality as well as significantly reducing the amount of packaging compared to the trays with clip-on lids used previously.

The Proseal solution also includes the company's innovative slipstream conveyor linked to its twin-lane machines, which provides a single lane infeed that ensures gentle handling of the product while enabling speeds of around 100 packs per minute to be achieved.

S&A currently has eight Proseal machines within the group, the majority of which are GT2 Twin-X models, with a ninth on order. The tray sealers are packing trays of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries in sizes between 125g and 700g. Typical speeds are 150 packs per minute for blueberries and 120 ppm for strawberries.

The latest GT2 Twin-X models are able to maintain high throughput speeds thanks to their servo-driven infeed conveyor and high accuracy tray positioning system. An intelligent film feed system provides enhanced control of the sealing operation for improved seal quality, with easy film threading and dynamic control of the movement of the film throughout the film feed cycle in order to maintain constant tension and avoid film snapping.

The GT2X-Twin also offers a rugged construction manufactured to food industry approved hygiene standards with full wash-down protection. It features Proseal's pioneering advanced lightweight and high strength 'Auto Tool' connection system, which enables tool changes to be carried out in around five minutes. Downtime is also minimized by the use of quick-change conveyor belts, and an auto-lock film reel holder. The machine's practical design is enhanced by situating the electrical controls above the sealing area, which also allows for safe access.

S&A selected the Proseal solution after having trialled four different tray sealer manufacturers.

"Soft fruit is extremely delicate, and rough handling can negatively affect quality. This may not be apparent immediately but will affect the end-consumer," explains Jan-Willem Naerebout, S&A's Group Operations Director. "Proseal's slipstream infeed system does not cause any damage to the fruit. Crashes and waste are also reduced and for these reasons the production team preferred Proseal."

As well as a significant reduction in packaging, the heat seal film is pre-printed which S&A says provides a much more attractive finished pack compared to a labelled product, and this solution also reduces packaging even further.

The Proseal machines are easy to operate with user-friendly controls and a display that provides clear reporting to the operator. "Our production teams are really comfortable using the machines and Proseal has provided operator training which we have greatly benefited from," says Jan-Willem.

The machines have also proved extremely reliable, he continues. "We look after the equipment, which is an important part of ensuring their reliability but on the two occasions where we have required support from Proseal, the company's engineers were on site within four hours and we were running again soon after.

"This is indicative of the high level of support we have enjoyed from Proseal, both in engineering and training. Equally important, emergency new tooling can be provided within a very short-lead time. We have a great relationship with Proseal."