The US packaging machinery supplier said that its 296 TS Tray/Shrink System, the latest in the Continuum range, can now deliver 80 trays per minute. The Continuum system, likely to prove popular with food and beverage manufacturers increasingly looking for more efficient packaging systems, was first created in 2006. The primary purpose of the technology is to pack products in trays and then cover them in shrink-wrap plastic. Electronic integration The company's marketing manager Mario Mazzatto told FoodProductionDaily.com that the key feature of the upgraded system is its electronic integration: "Electronic rather than mechanical integration enables flexibility in terms of parts fitting so that processors can now insert equipment between the tray packer and shrink wrapper to date stamp produce if required or add partitions between glass bottles for damage control prior to the shrink wrap stage," said Mazzatto. He claims that a new feature of the shrink wrapping section of the 296TS is the on-demand film wrapping wand controlled by a servo motor and sensor, which eliminates the continuous cycle operation of previous wands. "As the on-demand wand runs only when needed, there is a reduction in belt wear and tear as well as considerable energy savings for manufacturers," added Mazzatto. Film rethreads He said that the film feed was enhanced to address the costly and time-consuming problem of film rethreads on previous versions: "The redesigned film feed system requires considerably less operator input and maximises uptime as it enables single-pass, error-free threading. Its clamshell design also makes it accessible for servicing, thus helping reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for manufacturers," according to Mazzatto. Maintenance alerts The intuitive graphic operator interface of the upgraded Continuum system also makes it easier to use, according to Mazzatto, while a diagnostic programme indicates any faults and also provides scheduled maintenance alerts. He said transparent guarding means the stainless steel-framed system's parts remain clearly visible, enabling walk-by maintenance. The company said that, as in the previous Continuum shrink system model, the equipment includes the servo driven Zero-Gap infeed technology, which prevents any jamming on the line. Packaging materials The manufacturer said that the 296TS is suitable for packing both loose containers such as cans, bottles and jars of sauces as well as multipacks in a range of materials, including glass, PET, HDPE, metal and fibre cans, shrink bundles and paperboard. Once shrink-wrapped, the manufacturer then has the option of packing the product into corrugated or chipboard trays, the company said.