Another one bites the dust
by Mark Wild Fawema Engelskirchen, Germany
After lengthy technical research conducted in conjunction with strategic industry partners, Fawema from Germany is delighted to report that the they have successfully installed and commissioned their first flour packing machinery for one kg retail flour packs, which now delivers Dust-Tight Paper Bag Packaging.
For many years, one of the main challenges for millers has been in trying to eliminate occasional flour dust spillage from conventional paper bags.
With this challenge in mind, Fawema began the process to "fight …… and bite" into the problem of dust emission with the objective of being able to offer new technology which was both simple to implement and cost-effective for the flour miller.
Retailers in particular have been demanding improvements in the way that food products, and especially powdery food products such as flour and associated products are packed and delivered to them. Flour dust residue on supermarket shelves is a problem which they are naturally keen to avoid. Not only was the hygiene question of dust an issue but also the vitally important aspect of food security and the requirement to have tamper-proof products.
Cost-effectiveness was the key element in the project: if the initiative was to be of interest from the millers´ point of view, then it had to be a cost-effective solution for them.
The message coming from the market was loud and clear; the industry needed innovation both on the packing machinery, but also on the packaging materials i.e. the ready-made paper bags which the vast majority of mills utilise for packing retail flour destined for supermarkets, grocery stores etc.
In order to achieve a workable solution, Fawema appreciated the need to talk in technical detail with leading paper converters (individual companies around the world who purchase paper in bulk and then convert it into the finished, printed paper bags), which are then filled and closed automatically on the Fawema equipment.
It was clear that the expertise of the bag makers, in their particular geographical areas of the world, would need to be "married" with the expertise of Fawema as manufacturers of the packing machinery, in order to achieve a system that had perfect functionality and compatibility, while at the same time ensuring that the new type of dust-tight sealable paper bags were locally available from regular bag suppliers thus guaranteeing rapid delivery, easy replenishment and avoiding costly long-distance shipments and high importation levies. Furthermore, the new sealable paper bags had to be able to work on either new or existing Fawema flour packing machinery with a system that was economically viable, and which ensured that the production output speed of the packing line was not unduly affected.
With the criteria clearly defined, the technical aspects of creating a new section of the Fawema packing machine and creating a new sealable paper bag were projected and ultimately placed into production and the first results firmly indicated that the initiative was on the right track. Before any definitive trials could be carried out at a reference mill, however, lengthy tests first had to be done at Fawema´s manufacturing base near Cologne in Germany and this took several months to complete.
The new, dust-tight paper bags, which have been devised, incorporate a narrow inner layer of dry adhesive on the top part of the bags. As the bags are identical to conventional paper bags, except for the additional very fine adhesive, the converters (the bag makers) can easily integrate the new adhesive applicator unit into their existing bag making machines. The adhesive is tested, approved and certified according to European food safety regulations and already, some bag suppliers are able to deliver the new bags to the market.
Fawema´s part of the project is in providing apparatus within the packing machine to work with the new bags and this consists of a cleverly-designed and integrated thermo-application station that immediately activates the dry adhesive on the paper bags.
One of the primary objectives was in making sure that the seal was strong, but not too strong. The consumer needed a bag which was tightly sealed but which could still be opened simply without ripping or damaging the pack in any way, except of course on the bag mouth itself. The way in which this was achieved was a perfect balance between sealing time and temperature. Fawema´s new sealing device also had to ensure that the production speed of the packing machine wasn´t reduced. The Fawema packing machinery operates at high speed and it was imperative that the new innovation didn´t diminish the output of the line. Thanks to the immediate activation of the sealing, the throughput of the line isn´t affected at all.
The final results achieved are perfect and everybody involved is happy.
The retailers: because they can now aspire to dust-free shelves and tamper-proof food products packed in environmentally-friendly paper bags leaving no carbon footprint.
The millers: because this innovation now gives them an additional marketing tool, reduces wastage and allows them to continue using paper bags without the need to radically change the way of packing or make costly changes to their existing equipment.
The consumers: because they can continue to buy top quality flour packed in familiar paper brick packs, safe in the knowledge that the product is risk-free from any potential external agents.