Reducing Total Packaging
John King, Food Equipment Director, North America, Sealed Air Corporation, Cryovac Food
According to recent USDA figures, prices for most types of meat are higher year over year. Rising commodity costs due to drought and other inflationary factors are likely to drive these prices even higher in the months
and year to come, representing a significant challenge against
an economic backdrop of consumers still not back to confidence
levels experienced prior to the Great Recession. Efficient operations at processing facilities are more critical than ever if meat
product manufacturers are to remain profitable. Fortunately,
advancements in packaging machinery and the potential for
automation resulting from these innovations can play a pivotal
role in enhancing efficiency for meat processing operations.
Evaluating packaging machinery for meat product manufacturers must begin with a discussion of Total Packaging Cost.
At its most basic level, Total Packaging Cost incorporates
all costs associated with the packaging of a given product,
including packaging material costs (primary package material,
labels, code dating, etc.), packaging equipment costs (
purchase and lease costs, operator costs, maintenance and spare
parts costs, utility costs, operations costs, etc.) and secondary
packaging costs (palletizing, stretch wrapping, code dating,
etc.) — all costs associated with taking a given product from
a “ready to package” state to a “ready to ship” state.
New equipment, such as automatic bag loading systems
or automated rotary chamber vacuum machines, can provide increased packaging speeds, better quality packages,
reduced package rework and reduced labor. Additional
advantages may also include less downtime for cleaning,
maintenance and changeovers; improved troubleshooting
capabilities; and effective use of data acquisition (to record
critical packaging equipment details).
New and advanced equipment can also deliver the ability
to automate much of the packaging process. Meat processors
can incorporate technologies such as vision systems, robotics
and next generation packaging equipment into their automated packaging lines in order to increase packaging consistency and reduce labor. Additionally, new software technologies enable processors to integrate multiple modules on a
particular packaging line to increase the overall level of automation. Packaging equipment software also can be used to
enhance system troubleshooting, provide remote access and
perform data acquisition in order to further increase automation and productivity.
Meat processors have recently implemented systems that
utilize vision components to accomplish specific tasks and
ensure package quality. These systems can be used for iden-
tification and recognition of different types of product for
improved production line routing
or other efficiencies. Additionally,
vision technology can be imple-
mented in conjunction with other
systems, such as robots.
During John King’s 26 years with Sealed Air, he has held various
positions at the Packaging Equipment Systems Center including
Project Manager for Furukawa Packaging Systems, QA Manager,
Purchasing Manager, Manufacturing Engineering Manager,
Marketing Manager and Director of Operations. He holds a
degree in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University.