How to Match Snack Conveyor Speed With Packaging Capacity

Dorner Conveyors Product Transfer

This article originally appeared on on June 11, 2020.

Well before a package is propped up on a shelf, snack makers must consider how to safely get their snacks to the variety of bag sizes now available.

John Kuhnz, vice-president of Dorner’s engineering solution group, said focusing on grouping, routing, guides and transitions provides opportunities to increase efficiencies.

“If you don’t have your guiding or your transitions right, those bags will jam, and before you know it, you’ll have 200 bags on the ground,” Mr. Kuhnz said. “It’s really important that you’ve got a guiding product transfer and a system in place that can handle them.”

Delicate snacks like pretzels typically travel at slower rates than vertical form/fill/seal (VFFS) machines and baggers to minimize impact. Dorner installs high-sided rails or curtains to reduce the opportunity for jamming, twisting or jarring of the pretzels. They can also install powered side guides, essentially a conveyor tilted on its side, that moves at the same rate as the product to reduce friction. For transitions or gaps leading into a bagger, Dorner makes sure all transfers are level, and if there is a gap, it’s filled with a transfer roller.

Matrix, a ProMach company, uses its SmartGate technology to gently compact the charge of snacks as it comes off the scale to prep it for a bag.

“It compacts the charge into a cylinder then drops it into package,” said Christine Duncan, marketing manager, Matrix. “This allows machines to create those packages quicker and with more accuracy to make sure you don’t have any stragglers coming down the chute from the scale.”

Ms. Duncan said snack makers should match the bagging machine speed with the rates coming from the fryer and scale. Building in the opportunity to increase those speeds is also critical. If a product is bagged at 30 a minute now, plan on ramping up packaging as business grows.

“As you increase your speed beyond your ability to fill that scale, your bagger should be able to increase speed to keep up with that,” she said.

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