Varsinais-Suomen Kalatukku Oy, a leading Finnish seafood supplier, has installed a new multihead weigher from Ishida Europe to handle a variety of fish and seafood. The system is said to have virtually zero giveaway, which has in turn led to increased efficiency, speedier production and greater flexibility.
In the competitive frozen seafood market, new product development, frequent pack changes and price variations are vital for manufacturers to keep pace with constantly evolving consumer and retailer expectations. Varsinais was looking for a packing and weighing solution which could enable rapid changes in target weight and pack type.
Jari Kuorokallio, financial director at Varsinais said, "New product development in this sector is very fast. From the moment we make a decision to introduce a different pack size or weight, we aim to supply our customers within as little as two weeks, assuming no new branding or colourwork is needed."
Varsinais packs frozen shrimps as well as a wide variety of other products, such as Baltic herring, which can often be quite sticky. Steep angled contact surfaces are normally required to prevent sticking, but this was not possible due to height limitations in the area around the new production line.
Ishida's 10-head waterproof multihead weigher has a low height discharge chute which the company says enabled it to fit into the space allocated, while its hex-embossed contact surfaces reduce adhesion to prevent sticking. With interchangeable contact parts, the weigher's hoppers can be removed and replaced for cleaning without stopping the machine, while the IP66 waterproof body allows high pressure hosing down. Product types and pack sizes and weights can be pre-programmed, allowing changeovers be carried out at the touch of a button.
The products are weighed into bags or - more commonly - flexible trays with typical target weights between 150 g and 1 kg. The weigher's distribution system feeds a thermoforming machine which can seal one, two or four trays at a stroke, depending on pack size. With a maximum speed of 40ppm, Ishida and Varsinais said that they are jointly researching methods of filling other containers such as glass jars where extra capacity may be required.
Tapani Laakkonen, Varsinais' production manager said, "We faced a number of challenges and the Ishida weigher has allowed us to benefit from increased flexibility, reduced giveaway and greater production speeds. We are well on target to achieve payback within three years: an excellent return on investment. For example, we have so far had literally no downtime at all attributable to the weighing part of the operation."