The basic process is to introduce a portion into some form of food-grade packaging, but how that’s done depends enormously on the type of food product you are dealing with, as well as the type of packaging.
For example, this is a packaging machine for potato chips and other fragile, irregular, shelf-stable items. It shakes the potato chips into weighing bins on a continuous basis, the bins are then dumped into Bags that are cut and heat sealed from a continuous roll of plasticized foil tubing.
This is a thermoforming machine. It forms pockets from a roll of engineered plastic sheeting using dies, rams, heat, and vacuum. The sheet advances over a filling bed where various types of products are placed into the formed pouches. It can be virtually anything, including raw meat. Another roll of sheet plastic is overlaid on top. Vacuum is applied to evacuate dead space in the pouch and the bottom and top sheets are heat sealed. If you see a plastic pouch with a flap all the way around the edges, it was packaged on one of these machines.
This ungainly monster is generally referred to as a Cryovac machine. It uses heat-shrink bags, usually printed with a brand label to do a final package on a variety of products.
Some types of food packaging, particularly for food products, are integral to the actual production of the product. Take the hotdog for example. The meat batter is ‘packaged’ in a collagen casing and then smoked. The finished product he has the collagen casing stripped and the individual links are packaged in a thermoforming machine. It’s quite the process.
The bottom line is that there is an incredible diversity of both packaging and packaging machinery. Most companies work with a packaging consultant to get the right fit for their product. After picking the right kind of packaging, you decide on the kind of automation you need.
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