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A helping hand to streamline VFFS changeovers

05 June 2024

Brand owners across the food industry are being challenged today to ensure their packaging operations use the minimum amount of packaging materials as possible, to ensure greater sustainability. Martin Boutkan offers a possible solution.

Process efficiency is crucial for vertical form fill and seal (VFFS) packaging applications and ensuring more efficient film reel changeovers is one way of achieving this, and also ensuring that less packaging material is wasted. 

Ensuring smooth production, with efficient changeovers is more of a challenge today because skilled labour is becoming harder to find and retain. So, clear operator guidance is becoming more important. Guiding operators through the changeover tasks, via specific instructions on the machine’s HMI, can help ensure that even inexperienced operators are able to undertake the necessary steps during changeovers. 

It is common for batches to vary, between small pillow bags, larger pillow bag or Doy bags. Before the VFFS machine is able to switch from one bag style to another the film needs to be changed and threaded through the machine. If operators can find all the information they need to achieve this on the HMI it can help reduce waste and speed up changeover times.

Minimising film quantities
Changeovers mostly rely on recipes that are set-up during commissioning of the machines. Based on these recipes companies are able to reproduce settings or adjustments and reduce the amount of film used for a certain bag style to the bare minimum, successfully avoiding packaging waste.

Syntegon has refined one of its vertical baggers, the SVX, to enable guided processes and this can play a key role in ensuring bag quality. Getting the long seal right often requires adjustment to the position of both packaging material and sealing jaw. While traditional vertical packaging machines often leave operators to find their way to achieve this, the SVX offers process guidance for fine tuning specific machine settings, including long seal positions. 

Syntegon’s cloud-based software solution, Synexio, enables machine and production data to be collected, evaluated, and visualised at any time, from anywhere, to acheive greater equipment efficiency. With the sustainability sonitoring feature of the Synexio Uptime package, operators can gain a clear understanding of energy and waste produced for overall equipment effectiveness and environmental impact. 

Martin Boutkan is product manager for VFFS technology at Syntegon.

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