Pouch Packaging: Options and Sequence of Operation
Convenience is one of the most appreciated values in today’s modern and fast-paced world, which is why the usage of flexible pouches is an ongoing prominent trend in product packaging. Global market demand for pouches is projected to rise 6.2% annually to $37.3 billion in 2018. Food is the largest and most developed market for pouch, followed by pharma/medical and beverage.
Large companies are turning to simple, traditional bag types; pillow style bags and stick-packs. A simplified packaging process provides savings and efficiency increment, which further contributes to a larger bottom line.
This package format is lightweight, convenient, and it complements consumers’ on-the-go lifestyles which is why more consumers are choosing pouches over the traditional glass, paper and metal packaging, and even rigid plastics.
Pouch is a simple packaging format, yet the pouch packaging processes aren’t as simple as they might appear. In order to choose a right pouch packaging solution you must take into account the nature of a product. Regarding that, this blog post will go through all the steps in pouch packaging process and various optional additions to that process, depending on your packaging needs. We decided to use the examples based on Nortech Packaging’s ROO-100 preformed pouch fill & seal packaging solution.
The pouch magazine
Pouch magazine is the first station in the pouch packaging process. The magazine consists of the servo driven lugged conveyor and auto- adjustable symmetrical guides. The operator places a stack of pouches in the magazine cells, where the pouch accurate positioning is assured with the guides and lug relative positions. Based on the pouch starving sensor signal, the servo is indexing the belt in order to bring next cell filled with pouches into the loading position.
The servo driven three head rotary unit to utilize vacuum suction cups to pick a pouch from the magazine, and deliver into the pouch carrier system. Based on the pouch registration sensor signal, servo calculates necessary correction which assures accurate pouch positioning in the grippers.
Pouch carrier systems
In order to be transferred through the machine for different operations, a pouch has to be secured between two grippers. This unique design utilizes two servo driven synchronized chain track, where each supports one of the grippers. If filled pouches are way too heavy, the machine can be built with conveyer which will provide additional support for the pouch from the bottom.
Pouch opening station
By applying vacuum suction cups in the pouch area above a zipper,the pouch is then pre-opened enough to insert mechanical fingers. After inserted, fingers are used to pinch each side of a pouch moving it apart, assuring positive zipper pouch opening.
Pouch filling station
Filling tube moves slightly into the pouch to assure that pouch will form properly to eliminate product spillage. Optionally, additional filling station(s) can be added. For products like chip and snack, we recommend using nitrogen gas flushing. Snack bags are designed to protect delicate foods inside from both physical damage and oxygen exposure. The nitrogen replaces the oxygen and cushions the contents. Unlike oxygen, nitrogen doesn’t react with foods, so they stay fresher longer. Nitrogen doesn’t affect the flavor or texture of the food, so it’s perfect for food preservation. So, chips and snack bags are not filled with nitrogen gas just to look bigger.
Products infeed options are various and they largely depend on a type of product.
For powder and non-free-flowing solids like ground coffee or flour, we recommend auger filler. This system allows you to control dust during the filling operation. Auger fillers are mostly used in conjunction with a weighing instrument in order to compensate for changes in the bulk density of the product. The fillers of this type are suitable for filling products at both low and medium speeds.
Volumetric cup filler is recommended for free-flowing solids like rice, candies or frozen peas or powders that don’t generate dust. Volumetric cup fillers measure out a product in a cup, with specific predetermined volume. This type of filler is suitable for precise filling of products at both low and high speeds.
For packaging applications where measuring needs precision and accuracy, we recommend vibratory fillers. They provide you with accuracy, speed, and versatility across a comprehensive line of linear net weigh feeders.
Multi-head weighers can also bring improvements to your product packing line. Improved weighing accuracy means more packs per kg of product. You can deliver more packs per shift due to fast calculation time. Self-tuning vibration system optimizes product flow and simple, tool-free cleaning shortens weighing machine downtime
For sensitive and fragile products that demand delicate product handling, we recommend robotic infeed. Robotic arm with appropriate end-of-arm-tooling can be integrated with ROO100 for achieving careful and reliable product handling.
The top side of a pouch is sealed with the hot sealing bar. Pouch cooling of a pouch area that got heated from sealing is also an option. To get rid of an excessive air in the bag you can enhance your packaging solution with deflators. Sponge or rubber loop deflators push the air out just prior to sealing.
After sealing options
Metal detector: To detect unwanted particles, the metal detector can be integrated before or after pouch fill & seal machine.
Checkweigher can be integrated after pouch fill & seal machine for improved measuring control
Scrap pouches can be removed with the help of a reject station that can be integrated after pouch fill & seal machine.
Labeler can also be integrated after sealing station
Our Case Packer and Palletizer can also be integrated with ROO100 for full shipping and end of the line solutions
Washdown: Washdown construction is especially important in the food industry. Packaging solutions in the food industry should feature a washdown structure with NEMA 4x enclosures. This means that the machine can be cleaned with a spray of water without worrying about electric components or rust.
To improve product settlement inside a pre-made pouch after filling we recommend vibratory settlers.
Whole punch / Die cut: Pouches are usually hanged on the shelves in the store; this is why almost all pouches need to have a hang hole. Punching or cutting a hang hole can also be a feature of ROO-100.
Due to the rising popularity of pouch packaging format, you can find a lot of pouch fill&seal machines on the market. However, not all of them are equally good as a solution. Pouch machines are usually large and they demand a lot of floor space, which makes them unsuitable for smaller facilities. ROO-100 with its compact footprint is the smallest pouch machine on the market. Changeover for some pouch machines can last up to half an hour which results in unnecessary downtime. With ROO-100 you can change between pouch sizes in 30 seconds! Besides being the most compact machine on the market, ROO-100 is also the most affordable one. As mentioned above, it can be built and integrated with a variety of options and systems according to your specific needs. Get a quote and check why do we refer to ROO-100 as a “world’s new champion in flexible packaging!”