Salad processing is evolving thanks to the latest automated weighing and packing solutions.
Fresh produce processors are benefiting from significant technological improvements in recent years, with increasingly advanced weighing and packing solutions offering them higher than ever levels of automation.
Conveyors, for instance, are now designed to provide greater efficiency, according to Robert Marguccio, Heat and Control’s business manager of packaging and inspection systems.
“Features such as an infeeding conveyor belt with buffers and the mechanical indexing tables mean 100 per cent positional accuracy,” he says.
“These high levels of accuracy result in virtually no spillage at the fill point, reducing product waste and giveaway.”
Marguccio says salad product handling is also now more gentle, which means less bruising and product damage.
“The weighers have been built with special high-embossed surfaces to prevent product from sticking, which means the product is weighed at a faster rate,” he says.
Dispersion feeders are also now more powerful, he says, offering optimal speeds for maximum efficiency and productivity.
“Automatic feeders can maximise performance and reduce maintenance on the machines.
“The large volume hoppers on the weighers allow producers to develop a larger range of bag sizes, so consumers have a greater choice when it comes to which product they purchase.”
Marguccio says weighers are also better integrated with packaging machinery. When all machines are connected to a single network, benefits include more efficient transfer of information and data analysis.
Less leaf wastage
Marguccio believes Ishida’s Rotary Salad Filler, available from Heat and Control, solves the issue of leaf wastage better than others in the field.
Usually, salad leaves can have a free-flowing volume of up to three times the volume of the tray, which means the leaf does not naturally fit into the confines of the tray and easily spills over.
Ishida’s new system automatically fills salad into preformed trays at high speeds with minimum spillage. With up to 50 trays per minute per lane on all pack formats, the system combines combination weighing with the filler to pack salad into trays cleanly and quickly.
The Rotary Salad Filler accepts preformed trays which can be fed by hand or via an automatic denesting system. The filler then fills the tray via an Ishida combination weigher and settles the product twice to ensure it’s fully in the tray.
Trays are then lowered at the exit of the machine to ensure all product remains in the tray.
Ishida’s bag maker technology is confined to snack and dry applications, according to Marguccio.
“In wet applications such as salad, Ishida works with all bag maker manufacturers to deliver a solution to meet the customer’s budget and requirements,” he says.