The UK-based company said the Integrity Seal system uses breakthrough weld technology to produce ultra-thin bead seals that are 1mm wide compared to the typical 15mm width of conventional crimp seals.
The equipment can be installed as a retro fit system on vertical form fill seal and horizontal wrap machines. While take-up has so far been in the frozen food and whole potato segments, IFP said the machine has the potential to be used across a wide range of food sectors, including other fresh produce, confectionery, bakery, cereals and snacks.
The narrow seal produced by the system cuts the length of pack by around 10 per cent and delivers “substantial film savings”, said the company. The system is able to produce hermetic seals which are superior in strength and quality compared to crimp seals. As well as trialing the system on industry-standard 35 micron film, IFP also tested the technology on thinner gauge 25 and 30 micron films with shelf life performance and sealability comparable to the 35 micron material.
The combinations of saving from shortening the pack and reducing the film gauge can deliver a reduction in film usage reaching 25 per cent, claimed the firm.
Shelf life boost
IFP said its trials had demonstrated the tighter seals provided by the technology extended product shelf life; sensitive leaf salads increased from five to eight days; non-sensitive salad varieties, such as spinach, typically jumped from seven to nine days, and snack products packed with the system have a 12-week life on single bag applications. The seal also realises better carbon dioxide control which helps improve the quality of fresh vegetables, said the company.
The system can improve operational efficiencies and lower manufacturing costs. For most applications the sealing time is faster than with crimp sealing because the heat is applied to the cut edge of the film, therefore machine speeds are faster by around 10 – 15 per cent faster, added the firm.
IFP said the system has lower consumable costs. The seal element is a long life component and does not require Teflon tape - resulting in less downtime and reduced maintenance costs. The non metallic cutter is cheaper and easier to fit than metal knives.
Major industry players such as Marks & Spencer and McCain Foods have already trialed and begun using the system.
“The introduction of the Integrity Seal system has proved beneficial for McCain, with usage and operational savings in line with our expectations. Integrity Seal works well and is a very worthwhile conversion from the old style crimp seal,” said McCain Foods innovations and central Engineering director Dave Stewart.
The UK Government’s Waste Resource and Action Programme (WRAP) has backed the technology.
“We are delighted to have supported the Integrity Seal concept,” said the agency’s head of retail Andy Dawe. “The potential packaging reductions are significant as well as the opportunity to reduce food wastage through improved seal integrity.”