Harpak-ULMA introduced the ULMA FS-400 Flow wrapper, conceived specifically for the fresh poultry and meat packaging market segment. The FS-400 produces cost-effective packaging for raw food products that often vary in both size and shape. It represents a new alternative to formerly patented packaging technologies designed to produce leak-proof trayed products, optimized for attractive retail presentation.

Prior to recent patent expirations, producers faced limited supplier options. The formerly patented packaging technologies available today continue to utilize an all-box format frame with multiple electrical and mechanical cabinets, as well as exposed components. This dated design makes component access time-consuming and requires extensive cleaning to prevent product contamination.

The FS-400 flow pack solution dramatically improves on this 20-year old design. Instead, it employs a modern cantilever design that allows easy access to all components of the infeed conveyor, sealing rollers, and cross sealing assemblies. This simplified sanitary design also employs a single mechanical cabinet for motors and drive components, as well as a single electrical cabinet. Indexing conveyors also utilize a sanitary design that allows for belt removal and facilitates access to the entire infeed frame without tools.

During operation, trayed products are placed on a belted indexing conveyor that spaces the trays properly into the film. The film is stretched around the product using an innovative belt system that replaces the chains used by older systems (eradicating chain rebuilds). This process eliminates large wrinkles in the film prior to undergoing the vacuum, sealing and shrinking process. Narrow seals are produced at the bottom of the pack by a longitudinal trim seal system and end seals by hot bar jaws.

A specialized hot air tunnel is designed to shrink only the ends of the packages so not to distort the artwork on the bottom of the trays. This method optimizes the end seal position under the tray flange prior to the final shrink. In poultry applications, hot water shrink tunnels are required to complete the packaging process. The result is a tightly wrapped leak proof case-ready package with a superb aesthetic appearance.

The FS-400 offers a flexible approach to modernizing packaging operations, including an optional dual-film capability for stretch shrink film and barrier shrink film. It applies a modern, single control system to manage both machine operations and the hot air tunnel (TSSF), simplifying packaging operations.

The FS-400 will also be available as a smart, connected platform utilizing Rockwell Automation’s controls. This version of the platform can incorporate both remote machine monitoring and augmented reality (AR) integration for organizations seeking to redefine maintenance cost models.

Kevin Roach, CEO of Harpak-ULMA noted, “We expect the FS-400 will get a lot of market traction out of the gate given its outstanding price/performance characteristics, and producers' recognition that a highly competitive poultry packaging alternative is finally available after more than two decades. We view thought leadership as an important part of our strategy. Bringing a novel, highly competitive Flow-pack solution to market that also incorporates smart, connected services such as remote condition monitoring and integration with augmented reality is a great example of our execution of that strategy.”