GEA Food Solution’s ( equipment on display on stand B09 in Hall 7a at Interpack reinforces the statement ‘We process and pack it all’, the chosen theme for this event. In addition to a fully configured high-speed slicing/packaging line, there are two more thermoformers and one more slicer from GEA Food Solutions, a dedicated GEA Tiromat medical packaging thermoformer, a traysealer and three GEA SmartPackers vertical bagging machines as well as two GEA Aquarius lollipop production machines.

All are developed to have a measurable impact on yield, productivity, uptime, quality, flexibility and cost effectiveness, and are the result of more than 60 years’ experience in the industry.

The highlights include an intelligent outfeed system for the speed-optimized GEA PowerPakSpeed, an innovative approach to sealing PE bags that slashes downtime in IQF applications and for the lollipop equipment a revolutionary high performance FlatFormWrap machine with highest speed in the market, with a hardened die set with pre and post pressing system for even better shaped lollipops in beautiful sandwichwrap. Additional news from the vertical baggers includes ultrasonic sealing of thin (30 micron) OPP film bags, smart tools to eliminate human error and optimal speed performance regardless of bag length.

High-speed slicing and packaging line

“We process and pack it all” is GEA’s theme for Interpack 2014, and the equipment line-up backs this up. Centerpiece is an automated high-speed line based on the recently introduced GEA PowerPakSpeed thermoformer. The line on display is optimized for handling sliced/shingled products and features the two drive GEA DualSlicer (another recent development), the GEA ShingleLoader, and the new GEA PowerPick at the outfeed which is being shown at Interpack for the first time.

More new slicing and packaging technologies

In addition to the automated line, there are three more GEA PowerPak thermoformers, the high-capacity GEA GigaSlicer equipped with an interleaver and a GEA OptiScan, a pre-scanner system using X-ray technology, the GEA TwinStar tray sealer, three GEA SmartPacker vertical baggers, the new GEA Aquarius FormWrap High Capacity lollipop forming machine and the GEA Aquarius BunchWrapper lollipop wrapping machine that has been upgraded with two innovative labeling options.

GEA PowerPick premiere

The GEA PowerPick intelligent outfeed system features automated pack rejection and other productivity-related innovations to enable it to match the very high speed of the GEA PowerPakSpeed. It is fully integrated into the thermoformer’s control system and ensures accurate single lining of filled packs at the outfeed of the packaging machine. This reduces labor requirements and has many benefits for downstream processes. The GEA PowerPick also identifies and rejects packs that do not meet the required specifications, for example, without a label or no contents. It also features single pack rejection when used with a GEA PowerPakSpeed fitted with the quality inspection option. Rejected packs are confirmed and documented for due diligence purposes, and the reject collection area is constantly monitored. The output can be configured for single or twin lines.

A GEA PowerPak for every capacity

The GEA PowerPak family is well represented, starting with the compact GEA PowerPakST, a competitively-priced entry into the quality and performance of these thermoformers. The GEA PowerPakRT is ideal for medium- to high-capacity production, and the example at Interpack features the GEA OptiChange semi-automatic tool-change system that speedup tool changes and eliminates manual lifting. The GEA PowerPakXT thermoformer on the stand is the Tiromat version for medical packaging applications, and features a special medical printer. Of course, all thermoforming machines are used not only for food packaging and medical applications but also suitable for the packaging of consumer and industrial goods.

GEA Traysealers as central elements of a comprehensive packaging concept

The GEA TwinStar generation offers tailored traysealer solutions for virtually every type of food to be packaged. Fresh meat, ready meals, salads, confectionery or sliced products, the innovative machine concepts and solutions guarantee efficient processes. To fully exploit the GEA capabilities and to adapt them exactly to customers’ requirements, an extensive selection of accessories like a continuous tray feeding system, a high-performance diverger and suitable conveyor systems are offered.

Breakthroughs in bag sealing on GEA SmartPackers

The sealing and performance enhancements for the GEA SmartPacker vertical form-, fill- and seal packaging machines start with the multi-purpose CX 250 continuous motion machine. It handles seven bag formats ranging from basic pillows (at 250 bags per minute) to Doystyle pouch formats (at 100 bags per minute). Doystyle is a popular supermarket format and examples will be filled from an overhead weigher on the stand. A larger continuous motion CX 400 shows that ultrasonic sealing is now possible with thin 30-micron OPP films. This extremely reliable sealing technique is excellent for salad, not only due to 100% seal integrity but also thanks to huge material savings. An ultrasonic seal saves around one centimeter in bag length at both the top and bottom compared to thermal sealing, which adds up to significant film savings.

Increasing machine availability in IQF applications

Another CX 400 is present to launch GEA’s innovative sealing technique for PE film bags in IQF applications. The new design eliminates breakdown-sensitive components that cause unplanned interruptions, significantly increasing the uptime performance. This machine is also fitted with automatic jaw movement adjustment to optimize speed performance regardless of bag length. The forming set design has also been enhanced to increase the operational speed. Finally, there is a demonstration of smart software tools that eliminate human error during format changeover and film roll replacement, as well as continually monitor the print quality of traceability data to avoid product returns.

Higher capacity and smoother operation for the lollipop FormWrappers

Main news from confectionery production and wrapping is the new GEA Aquarius FlatFormWrap High Capacity forming and wrapping machine that is designed for continuous production of up to 1000 lollipops per minute – 400 more than the GEA Aquarius FormWrap F 600. This high performance, high speed machine is based on over 20 years experience in form wrapping. Both machines produce flat, 3D, fancy and spherical lollipops, and now feature PLC control with a user-friendly touchscreen as standard. To make these machines even faster, the sugar feed has been made smoother as well as the die set has now 15 positions with pre and post pressing system and automatic lubrication set for smooth running of the hardened die set. Furthermore we have incorporated an accurate steady positioning system from discharge out of the die set to gripper chain towards the wrapping area. This system ensures that the lollipops will be transported smoothly in one position through the sealing roles. The film is pre-heated to enable lower sealing temperatures, which reduces film sticking. The pressing system has also been revised to further enhance the appearance of the lollipop.

Labeling options to add further appeal to lollipops

Two labeling options have been added to the high-speed GEA Aquarius BunchWrapper lollipop wrapping machines, starting with the ‘Label on stick’ that provides two flat 2 x 3 cm surfaces for brand identity, promotions, barcodes or other information. This technique, where the label forms an eye-catching flag on the stick, requires very accurate alignment to ensure the lollipops don’t stick together in bulk packaging. GEA achieved this by fitting special alignment guides that allow up to 600 or 800 lollipops per minute (depending on machine type) to be given a Label on stick. Another way for confectionery producers to add value to their lollipops is to insert a sticker, tattoo inside the wrapping film.

Slicing solutions as individual as customers’ requirements

Innovative slicing technology from the GEA Slicer portfolio is represented by the latest GEA SlicerBlades generation that boosts the efficiency in the production process.  Even when operating at a high cutting speed, perfect slice quality results for every portion, thus maximizing yield. Furthermore, a variety of accessories are also on display, for example, the recently designed Interleaver unit for the GEA GigaSlicer which makes a valuable contribution to attractive product presentation. The range is characterized by intelligent and creative machines that make use of proven scanner technology and flexible automatic loading systems to ensure most economical and complete line solutions for all kind of applications.