A major technology breakthrough at Packaging Automation Ltd has culminated in the design of the fastest most energy efficient single lane tray sealing machine in the world which will be demonstrated at Fruit Focus.
The Revolution machine has been specifically designed for the soft fruit market following extensive market research with a large number of packers. This research identified the three driving factors behind the machine’s design – the requirement for a high output sealer within a small footprint and absolute minimal downtime on tool changes and maintenance.
The machine incorporates truly novel technology enabling it to surpass all previous tray sealing products with speeds of 150 punnets per minute which is at least 20% faster than the closest competing product. Interpolated multi axis robotic motion ensures a continuous flow of punnets through the machine from infeed to outfeed eliminating any need for pauses or buffering.
Featuring PA’s PowerdriveTM technology, the Revolution is a fully electric machine and operates without using any compressed air, therefore offering savings of up to 98% of the running costs of conventional pneumatically operated tray sealers. This enables soft fruit producers to demonstrate a real commitment to environmental issues, while delivering tangible improvements to the bottom line.
The seal force has been increased by 300% compared to pneumatic systems however PA’s novel technology allows the tool lift mechanism to be deactivated during the seal process therefore significantly reducing the energy usage.
The Revolution incorporates the Eco-CutTM film trimming option and is also capable of running sealing film as thin as 17 microns. Eco-CutTM enables 20 percent less film to be used per pack sealed, which gives longer running time between film reel changes and impressive cost savings. To save further on critical downtime, tool changeovers on the Revolution can be done manually in two minutes as a result of an inbuilt tool loading system. The ingenious top tool comprises single impression removable cartridges to enable continued operation during repairs and routine maintenance. Quick release cutting blades on these allow for replacement in seconds and spare cartridges are supplied to enable full capacity operation at all times.
Because the infeed conveyor of the Revolution is intuitive and intrinsically linked to the transfer arms, the machine can verify that each pack is orientated and positioned correctly before the arms attempt to collect it, triggering an alarm that alerts the operator preventing smash ups inside the machine. Downtime is further reduced because the infeed guard can be opened, the offending pack removed and the cycle restarted without the need to clear all packs from the transfer area.
Many other new user benefits have been added during the development process including a smoother profile of the punnet transfer into the machine. This allows lighter or more easily displaced products such as small berries to be transferred without spilling at high speed. The manual set up of printed film after product changes can be time consuming and problematic for users of tray sealers, however by incorporating these settings into individual recipes in the screen, the Revolution automatically adjusts the reel position when the recipe is selected. For factories where security of machine settings and parameters can be an issue, the Revolution can be equipped with RFID fobs that prevent operators from accessing certain permission levels within the machine’s screen.
Finally, hygiene was addressed during the design process with a high IP rating and the open construction of the machine allowing it to be stripped down to a bare skeleton for cleaning.
Commenting on these new developments, Sam Ashton PA’s Commercial Director said, “Yet again, Fruit Focus is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate PA’s pedigree in innovation. We are extremely proud of our British engineering heritage having celebrated 50 years in business just last year. This latest development is the culmination of a massive team effort from a truly talented, passionate workforce that is committed to developing customer focused solutions.”