The finished result is the PA182 semi-automatic machine. Packaging Automation claims that the plant is ideal for handling the clear plastic, re-sealable wedge-shaped tray that Glanbia uses. The cheese company believes that this is the best means for cutting out the somewhat strong odours encountered - and for which Stilton is famed - when packages are put in the fridge after opening.
In addition, Packaging Automation has developed the PA238 with a merging conveyor. This machine is one of a series of automatic, integral, variable speed, conveyor-fed heat-sealing machines. It incorporates a unique film feed registration system and an automatic indexing conveyor and can be equipped with ancillary equipment which includes de-nesters, auto-fillers, pick-and-place lidding, labellers and date code printer facilities.
"We believed we needed to improve the Stilton packaging still further and it has paid off handsomely," said Glanbia Foods production manager Simon Proctor. "Already Sainsbury's, along with another household name, have picked up on the new-style pack and we are now talking with other major multiples as well. The new machine is doing much the same job as the old one, but in a flow process rather than a batch process."
Proctor believes that the partnership work with Packaging Automation, including the sealing trials at PA's Knutsford headquarters, have helped to achieve this latest success.
"When we decided on improved packaging we were working to an extremely tight timescale," he said. "As is usually the case, once you have sold an idea to a retailer they want it now. Packaging Automation made a commitment to deliver and they did so on time and on budget. Without their expertise we would not have been able to get the product to the customer in exactly the way they wanted it. And on top of all that Packaging Automation also agreed to work with our material supplier as well, to ensure the success of the whole venture."
Packaging Automation was established in 1963 and is one of the UK's leading manufacturers of heat sealing machinery for the food industry. The business employs 120 people and produces a wide range of equipment. These range from simple manual units and semi-automatics through to in-line fully automated systems. The company also manufactures volumetric fillers, conveyors and other types of ancillary equipment.