Patented vertical vacuum bagging solution automates manual-intensive bagging processes
TAUNTON, MA – Harpak-ULMA, the industry leader in smart, connected packaging solutions, has announced the North American availability of ULMA’s Tight-Bag™ machines for poultry products. Tight-Bag technology combines vertical bagging with a revolutionary, patented air extraction process to automate vacuum bagging for many food products.
The Tight-Bag machine produces leakproof bags without perforations and includes HMI-adjustable air volume – a process that can facilitate up to 15% more bags per case for some products. The Tight-Bag solution for poultry products, branded as Tight-Chicken™, combines automated product loading and vertical bagging to overcome manual-intensive processes commonly associated with fresh poultry bagging— as well as the sanitary risks that arise with manual operations.
The Tight-Bag process includes forming film around the vertical tube, which delivers product, then employs specialized cross-sealing jaws combined with venturi air evacuation to seal each bag to the desired degree of air content. The machine can accommodate a variety of packaging films, including the breathable film used in some fresh, crust-chilled poultry applications.
Tight-Chicken ensures that each bag fits the product like a second skin, eliminating the risk of leaks and ensuring that the product arrives at stores in compliance with applicable hygiene regulations. In addition, the machine’s design reduces the footprint of the processing line by eliminating separate vacuum chambers and bagging stations — while increasing its production yield by up to 35 high-quality, leakproof bags per minute. Products are loaded utilizing semi-manual or fully automated overhead chain conveyance, which can include quality control, such as weight checks. Once bagged, packages are processed through a hot water shrink tunnel and on to end-of-line packing operations. The Tight-Chicken solution dramatically reduces manual bagging labor, representing up to 4-5 FTE per line, while helping producers meet sustainability goals by reducing the amount of plastic used in the packaging process.
“This is a night and day innovation for Producers, said Hugh Crouch, Harpak-ULMA Flow wrap manager. Until now, packaging fresh poultry required two separate systems – one to open the premade bag to insert product and one to extract air and seal the bag. Compared to Tight-Chicken, that’s more costly, less efficient, and requires more physical plant space – both for installation and associated maintenance. In addition, traditional whole chicken packaging processes require more manual repetitive labor — operators manually loading bagged chicken onto the conveyor platforms and transference into vacuum chamber systems. In comparison, Tight-Chicken™ executes the forming, sealing, and air extraction continuously, like an assembly line. The result is a more attractive and hygienically safe package and about 4X productivity factor over manual systems. Another bonus is that Tight-Chicken shrinks the total packaging surface area, excluding any need for additional point-of-sale plastic packaging. We see this as the future of poultry processing.”
For more information about the Tight-Bag series, visit https://www.harpak-ulma.com/resources/fresh-tech-how-tight-chicken-on-vffs-is-revolutionizing-poultry-packaging/ or call 508-884-2500. To experience the GCP100, as well as live smart, connected machine demonstrations, visit Harpak-ULMA at The International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE), Jan. 24-26, 2023.
Harpak-ULMA is the North American arm of ULMA, a $1B industry leader in complete packaging line solutions for Food, Medical, Bakery, and Industrial products. Harpak-ULMA provides smart, connected packaging systems utilizing Rockwell Automation’s controls and information platforms to deliver greater efficiency, uptime, and throughput, as well as better package quality and reduced waste. Well-designed, reliable solutions reduce customers’ total cost of ownership, help them overcome the challenges of an aging and evolving workforce, and improve control of maintenance expenses with competitive parts sourcing. In addition to offering ULMA primary packaging systems and comprehensive automation solutions, Harpak-ULMA is the exclusive North American distributor of G. Mondini tray sealers. Harpak-ULMA joined the Rockwell Automation Partner Network in 2018 as part of its initiative to build and deploy smart, connected packaging solutions.