Bespoke Line Keeps the Biscuits Flowing

Greater efficiency, improved flexibility and enhanced quality control are the major benefits of a bespoke packing line created for leading biscuit and pastry manufacturer Poppies International by Ishida Europe’s Belgian agent BRN.  The new line at Poppies’ factory in Zonnebeke, Belgium comprises an Ishida CCW-R-108P linear multihead weigher with a special distribution system that enables it to handle both trays and bags of biscuits, while an Ishida DACS checkweigher and IX-GA 4075 X-ray system provide weight and quality checks for all pack types.

The Ishida multihead weigher is achieving 50 packs per minute on a typical 125g tray.  Accuracy is to within 0.5g and overall the weigher is delivering an efficiency level in excess of 95% for this challenging product and application.

Poppies manufactures its delicate sugar-glazed puff pastry biscuits in two shapes – Twists and Palmiers.  As well as its own brand, the company also produces the biscuits for many national and international retailers.  This equates to around six different pack formats, both trays and bags, in a range of sizes from 75g to 400g.  As a result, during a typical shift, the company might need to effect up to seven changeovers.

The new BRN/Ishida system enables these changeovers to be carried out in just 15 minutes thanks to two important factors. The linear configuration of the Ishida weigher is ideal for fragile biscuits and it allows two distribution systems to sit comfortably beneath the weigher.  A special BRN-designed tray denester feeds the trays to two dipping funnels that place the biscuits into the trays.  These can be changed for a second funnel that places the biscuits into individual compartments on a conveyor which takes them to a bagmaker.                                             

Equally important, the three Ishida machines (multihead weigher, X-ray inspection system and checkweigher) are all controlled by a single Control Unit, meaning that the settings for every pack format on each machine can be easily called up by the touch of a single button on the panel.

The installation of the Ishida IX-GA X-ray system has also delivered an important enhancement to Poppies’ quality control, as production manager Geert Vandoorne explains:

“Before the X-ray, the biscuits would pass through a metal detector immediately after coming out of the oven.  Nevertheless, the packing operation involves a number of additional pieces of equipment, so it was more appropriate for the metal detector to be placed further down the line.  This however created another problem as some of the trays feature aluminium foil seals, while the bags are tied with a metal clip, and these factors would prevent the metal detector from operating properly.”

By comparison Ishida’s X-ray system is able to detect unwanted objects through metallised film, and its advanced technology can also mask the metal clip on the bags without reducing the detection performance of foreign bodies. Missing or additional clips are also identified.

In addition, the IX-GA 4075 is able to spot a wider range of contaminants and can pinpoint the location of any foreign object despite the fact that the biscuits are quite densely packed in the bags and trays.

The installation of the Ishida DACS checkweigher has also helped to improve overall efficiencies.  “Previously operators simply checked the fill level of the trays or bags by sight to assess if the correct amount was in each pack,” explains Geert, “but this led to excessive giveaway on occasions.  Now we can be confident that every pack is close to its target weight.”

The new line at Poppies incorporates the company’s existing bagmaker, flow wrapper and boxing machine with BRN supplying the three new Ishida machines along with transfer conveyors and elevators.

After baking, the biscuits are taken on an inclined conveyor through a ventilation system that cools them down before being transferred to a bucket elevator to take them to the linear mulithead weigher.  An important modification to the line here is the inclusion of a special buffering system for the biscuits.  If there is a problem further down the packing line, the feed conveyor to the bucket elevator goes into a backward and forward motion in order to collect the biscuits and hold them at this stage. This gives time for the problem to be fixed and, if it is likely to take a long time, production can be halted. Once the line is restarted, the biscuits are gradually re-fed to the bucket elevator.

Another innovation is the BRN-designed tray denester which uses suction pads to remove each tray from the stack and place it on the conveyor.  This ensures gentle handling that will not deform the lightweight trays.

Geert Vandoorne is pleased with the new line.

Finished packs of biscuits

“We have always been big Ishida fans – we have Ishida weighers in operation throughout our factories because they are fast, accurate and reliable.  The company was therefore the natural choice to help us upgrade and improve our biscuit packing operation.

“The X-ray and checkweigher have delivered the same high standards of accuracy and reliability and with BRN’s help with the design of the line, we now have an extremely flexible and efficient packing operation that ensures the high quality of our products and further enhances our reputation.”