“Everything just runs better with state-of-the-art packaging technology”
Efficient, future-proof and easy to operate: Producing at high speed since the beginning of April 2022, a highly advanced line from MULTIVAC has been operating at the Dutch production site of Myronivsky Hliboproduct, the largest agribusiness in Ukraine. The heart of the line is a TX 730 automatic traysealer, a resilient member of MULTIVAC's latest machine generation.
It took less than six months for the first tasty chicken breasts to roll off the production line in the black plastic trays, which are used by MHP in the Dutch town of Veenendaal. “A fine performance by the entire project team - particularly against the background of continuing difficulties with the corona pandemic, the war in Ukraine, Brexit and bird flu,” says Folkert Thasing.
It was in October 2021, that the Managing Director of MHP decided to invest in an automatic high-output traysealer, so that the production process could be elevated to a new level. Following some initial soundings in the market, as well as detailed discussions with MULTIVAC, the choice was made very quickly in favour of the innovative TX 730. “The packaging machine is a real workhorse, which is designed for the future, and which easily masters all the requirements of our customers,” says Hans Schalkwijk, MULTIVAC's Account Manager for the region, in his assessment of the machine.
The traysealer covers a wide spectrum of food packaging applications, ranging from fruit and vegetables through to meat, sausage, fish, poultry and dairy products, and right up to ready meals of all types. The perfect interaction of the state-of-the-art machine control, a comprehensive sensor system and a very robust design guarantees maximum performance, safety and reliability, as well as outstanding pack quality. When packing with modified atmosphere, as they do at MHP in Veenendaal, the machine is highly impressive with its output of up to 18 cycles per minute. In the case of air packs, which are sealed without modified atmosphere, the throughput is increased to up to 25 cycles per minute.
The innovative TX Flow Manager controls the high-performance servo drives, and it also ensures that the time sequences for the entire packaging process, from the infeed to the discharge of the packs, are perfectly synchronised with each other. This provides an even product flow in a packaging process, which is very gentle on the product.
The X-tools are a further guarantee of a high level of flexibility and machine availability, as well as a consistently high pack quality. Thanks to the integrated sensors, the die top section is automatically detected during a die change, and the data set stored in the die is transferred to the machine control. Each X-tool contains all the functions necessary for the particular packaging process. The operator can therefore change between different tray sizes and applications quickly and conveniently. This makes conversion particularly reliable - and it also makes the required change of product, film and die very fast. Less than five minutes in total are required to change an X-tool die.
"Pitstop" - the fastest wins
Production at Myronivsky Hliboproduct in Veenendaal is based on double-shift operation, and if at all possible without any interruptions or delay time. The film changes are particularly critical in this regard. Folkert Thasing: “Together with its high performance, the user-friendliness of the TX is in our view a great plus - and we hear this all the time from our teams in the Packaging Department. Just as in Formula 1, a real sense of competition has developed over time. We therefore also call the film changes the "pitstop". Both teams see it as a challenge to achieve the fastest film change - and also to overcome any other machine stoppages in the shortest time.”
And last but not least, the TX also scores highly when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. The workhorse, which is constructed in the MULTIVAC Hygienic Design™, is perfectly designed for the hygiene requirements of the food industry. Thanks to the large doors and safety guards, the entire tray packaging process is visible and easily accessible for cleaning and maintenance work. A reduced number of components, as well as the use of high-quality materials, also contribute to reliable and rapid cleaning.
The TX at MHP in Veenendaal is used to pack …
Solely fresh chicken breasts in black PP trays under modified atmosphere. The parent company Myronivsky Hliboproduct, which is based in the small town of Myronivka in the Kyiv district, is the largest agribusiness in Ukraine, and it focuses mainly on poultry produced on an industrial scale. Some of its best-known brands include "Nasha Ryaba" as well as "Qualiko", "Ukrainian Chicken", "Assilah", "Sultanah" and Chateau Galicia" among its international products. Production is carried out at locations in Europe, UK and Middle East.
At MHP the atmosphere in the pack is replaced with a gas mixture of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen, which is precisely matched to the delicate fresh meat, so that the shape, colour and freshness of the chicken breasts are retained. As long as the chill chain is not interrupted, the shelf life of the products is now increased with several days.
The packs of different heights with a fill weight of 2.5 and 5 kilograms are intended for wholesalers and large-scale users. The packs are particularly rigid and are sealed with a transparent upper web, which allows a good view of the appetising products.
Precise production process
The huge production hall is dominated by the packaging machine and a sophisticated system of conveyors and transport systems, which run parallel to each other or in opposite directions. The chicken breasts are initially transported via an inclined conveyor and feeder system, before being placed by the staff on two transport conveyors, which lead to the loading area for the packaging machine. A visual inspection by personnel at this point enables any fat or pieces of bone to be removed from the individual chicken breasts. There then follows automatic checking of the products by the appropriate inspection systems: Good products reach the downstream packaging process, while reject products are ejected immediately and subsequently have to be further processed manually.
The chicken breasts are currently loaded manually by staff into the PP trays. “Due to the consistency and shape of the products, this loading process has up to now not been able to be automated. The meat must be placed very precisely and tightly packed side by side in the trays, as well as being slightly offset,” explains Folkert Thasing.
The transparent upper web is then applied to the filled trays in the sealing die of the TX, and the upper web is sealed with an extremely high and evenly distributed sealing force, during which an inside cut is produced by an integrated cutting unit. The next stations are a metal detector, which is integrated into the line, and a labeller that places a printed label precisely onto the upper web. Discharge conveyors then transport the trays to the secondary packaging process.
Folkert Thasing is visibly highly delighted, because from the start the TX 730 has met the requirements perfectly in terms of reliability, efficiency and continuity, and it opens up a new era for MHP. “The line was installed and the fine-tuning completed in less than one month. Thanks to the high level of automation and, in particular, this latest digital machine generation, there are immense benefits open to us both now and in the future.”
Hans Schalkwijk emphasizes the point: “As a supplier of complete solutions with highly developed expertise in materials and applications, we at MULTIVAC always have regard to the perfect interaction of packaging materials, pack atmosphere, machine and product – and we systematically match our machines, their technology and the packaging materials, to ensure that the optimum pack results are always achieved.”
A further benefit: Thanks to the intuitive operating concept, the entire line can be controlled simply and reliably. The Multitouch machine control with its intuitive user interface can be set individually to the particular user. A personal RFID chip card is used to log on contactlessly to the system. Quick access and overview pages (dashboard) also give targeted assistance to the operator. And with its 18.5 inch screen diagonal, the control terminal delivers all the information at one glance.
In order to provide an even faster and easier process when setting up new products, trays and films, the TX can as an option be connected online with MULTIVAC Pack Pilot, which automatically sets the machine parameters. This makes it possible to achieve a very quick production start - even with new pack or product applications. Maximum performance is achieved, if the machine can also gain access online to the various MULTIVAC Smart Services.
“Because people are always the focus of our attention,” emphasizes Folkert Thasing. That is why MHP Netherlands and the Jan Zandbergen Group have decided to support those war refugees from Ukraine, who come to the Netherlands. “We help them to find work and also offer them jobs in our own companies. A classic win-win situation.”
Both companies already enjoy many years of successful collaboration. Jan Zandbergen is a supplier of ingredients, semi-manufactured products, meat and meat-replacement products, as well as poultry. The company headquarters are also situated in Veenendaal, the heart of the "Dutch Food Valley". A region, where companies, institutions and research laboratories collaborate intensively and create a strong network, with the aim of advancing the development of the food sector. MHP with its state-of-the-art production facility is also part of this network.