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Ulma Packaging launches operator-less solution for trayless flow wrapping of apples and other delicate fruits

Ulma Packaging has launched a revolutionary operator-less solution for the trayless flow wrapping of apples and other delicate fruits. The system is available in three different configurations and is the culmination by Ulma Packaging of nearly 12 months research and development work.

This exciting new system is available from Ulma Packaging in three different modular formats. The different standard configurations offered are based on apples arriving in cardboard boxes, pallet boxes / plastic crates or straight from the grading process. All apples arriving for flow wrapping are initially taken from their transit packaging using water. The water gently removes the fruit and conveys it onto a two-lane conveyor for subsequent drying using air knives, prior to optional inspection and then packaging. As a further enhancement to the process, Ulma can also offer fully automatic crate packing and palletising.

The development represents a major breakthrough in the handling of delicate fruit or vegetables and has been developed from Ulma’s extensive global experience in the packing of trayless tomatoes, potatoes and avocados along with citrus and exotic fruits. This background in the fresh produce sector paid dividends with the development of the new system and allowed the company’s engineers to use information gleaned over many installations and across many product ranges.

Ulma’s new process is ideal for products such as delicate fruits which can be easily bruised or damaged when handled and packaged by conventional packaging machinery. Exclusive to Ulma Packaging, the unique solution also offers fully automated product handling and packaging. However, the biggest benefit to the system is reduced labour and packaging costs.

Suitable for large, medium and smaller fruit growers the system can be used for the trayless packing of a cross-range of fresh produce, which will allow some producers to have the option of often using just one system for all their produce production as the system can also be configured to run with conventionally filled punnets from a de-nester.

In addition to providing a bespoke solution, pre-printed roll stock film is used to make the bags, which can subsequently be labelled immediately prior to apple packing. The equipment is designed to produce a horizontally sealed bag using a delicate non damaging feed solution.

Optional features include vision inspection systems, use of an external interface for remote factory monitoring and fault finding, robotic crate packaging and palletising.

Derek Paterson, the company’s sales director, said: "The development of a fully automatic water based solution for handling apples represents a major breakthrough in flowrap feeding methods and will bring numerous benefits to the sector. Lower processing and handling costs, less packaging and significantly reduced apple rejection should bring benefits to all concerned."

The company has a long and impressive background in the fresh produce arena and is an approved supplier to multiple retailers and others involved in the packaging of a cross-section of products including tomatoes, potatoes, onions, mangos, avocadoes, oranges, lemons and even kiwis.

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