Taunton, Massachusetts-based Harpak-ULMA has announced the North American availability of ULMA’s Tight-Bag machines for poultry products. The technology combines vertical bagging with a patented air extraction process to automate vacuum bagging for food products.
The Tight-Bag machine produces leakproof bags without perforations and includes HMI-adjustable air volume, a process that can facilitate up to 15 percent more bags per case for some products. The solution for poultry products, branded as Tight-Chicken, combines automated product loading and vertical bagging to overcome manual-intensive processes associated with fresh poultry bagging, as well as the sanitary risks that arise with manual operations.
Harpak-ULMA’s process includes forming film around the vertical tube, which delivers product and employs cross-sealing jaws combined with venturi air evacuation to seal each bag to the desired degree of air content. The machine can accommodate a variety of packaging films.
Tight-Chicken ensures that each bag fits the product like a second skin, eliminating the risk of leaks and ensuring that the product arrives at stores in compliance with applicable hygiene regulations. In addition, the machine’s design reduces the footprint of the processing line by eliminating separate vacuum chambers and bagging stations.
Products are loaded utilizing semi-manual or fully automated overhead chain conveyance, which can include quality control, such as weight checks. Once bagged, packages are processed through a hot water shrink tunnel and on to end-of-line packing operations. The Tight-Chicken solution reduces manual bagging labor, representing up to 4-5 FTE per line, while helping producers meet sustainability goals by reducing the amount of plastic used in the packaging process.
“This is a night and day innovation for producers. Until now, packaging fresh poultry required two separate systems – one to open the premade bag to insert product and one to extract air and seal the bag,” said Hugh Crouch, Harpak-ULMA flow wrap manager.
“Compared to Tight-Chicken, that’s more costly, less efficient, and requires more physical plant space – both for installation and associated maintenance. In addition, traditional whole chicken packaging processes require more manual repetitive labor – operators manually loading bagged chicken onto the conveyor platforms and transference into vacuum chamber systems.
“In comparison, Tight-Chicken executes the forming, sealing, and air extraction continuously, like an assembly line. The result is a more attractive and hygienically safe package and about four times productivity factor over manual systems. Another bonus is that Tight-Chicken shrinks the total packaging surface area, excluding any need for additional point-of-sale plastic packaging. We see this as the future of poultry processing.”
For more information about the Tight-Bag series, visit bit.ly/tight-chicken.