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Handled with care

Health bars in general call for gentle product handling throughout the entire process. They usually lack stability and are often sticky. Syntegon Technology fully understands market requirements, offering complete bar systems for efficient handling and packaging. For primary packaging, for instance, the Sigpack FIT is an efficient and advanced gentle product infeed solution.

The use of linear motor technology allows it to feed bars fast and without contact between individual products to the flow wrapping machine. This way, even sticky and fragile items can be handled gently, ensuring a constant product flow. It is important that the bars are subjected to hardly any mechanical pressure throughout the entire process – this prevents product breakage, resulting in fewer rejects, less product residue in the equipment and consistently shaped, appealing products.

Safe and tightly-packed

When it comes to packaging, tight solutions are paramount – especially if the natural bars contain few preservatives. Particularly tight packaging protects the products from oxidation and therefore has a positive effect on shelf life. Different sealing technologies ensure a fresh and securely packaged product with the longest possible shelf life.

“Besides reacting to the health trend, bar manufacturers are seeking ways to enhance packaging sustainability,” Schuele adds. “Paper plays a major role in this regard, and we have the packaging technology that allows to process and seal this trending material.” The flow-wrapped bars are then carefully packed into carton boxes and finally into transport cases.

As part of a seamless bar packaging system, Syntegon's Sigpack TTM cartoners equipped with matching Sigpack PFI infeed modules cover these crucial process steps. “Gentle product handling plays a major role during the entire packaging process. Our systems make sure it is maintained at all times,” says Schuele.

Just like the Sigpack FIT, the intelligent Sigpack PFI feeding module for cartoning uses innovative linear motor technology. Thanks to this, every individual product can be turned in the correct position. The highly adaptive, vacuum-free Sigpack PFI transports bars gently at high speeds to the Sigpack TTM. The compact, integrated top-load cartoner forms, loads, and closes up to 150 cartons per minute.

Easy format changes and cleaning

“In today’s bar manufacturing, production must be very flexible, with short changeover times combined with hygienic design to ensure compliance with international food safety standards,“ Schuele points out. Flexible packaging processes are best achieved in a fully automated setting. Contract manufacturers, for example, serve many different brands with taking care of production and packaging – in a highly flexible setup.

Often, a single line produces a variety of products in changing quantities: not only do healthy snacks contain different ingredients, but they also come in different sizes, flavors and are packaged in single to-go-packs, multipacks, or in variety packs.

“For manufacturers, smaller batches often require high flexibility, an aspect they should bear in mind when selecting their packaging system,” Schuele states. Flexible packaging means fast format changeovers: manufacturers have to be able to alternate quickly between various products, formats and pack styles in primary and secondary packaging. The basis for this is quick and error-free changeover concepts for minimum downtime. With Syntegon’s intelligent FIT feeding solution, change-over time can be reduced by 15 minutes compared to traditional chain infeeds.

Flexibility also presupposes a seamlessly integrated system, meaning that all the individual machines function as a continuous overall system. The operating platform on the HMI is the same for all machines, all interfaces have been harmonized and the machines communicate with each other. As a result, the system regulates itself independently and ensures a continuous product flow.

In a hypo-allergenic environment, flexibility comes in handy as well: easy, fast, and reliable cleaning processes help to comply with the highest hygienic standards. Especially with allergens such as gluten or milk, manufacturers must avoid cross-contamination. Fast processes such as tool-less removal of belts and other components support efficient cleaning.

Moreover, with a fully automated production line, the products do not need to be touched by production personnel at any stage. This is especially important for sensitive, sticky and allergen-free health bars, and has gained importance during the current pandemic. Reduced contact between operators and products can be considered a key measure to contain the spread of germs and viruses, while securing product safety.