Challenges in packaging jelly products

Sugar gives candy its sweetness while presenting technical challenges for automated high speed packaging. Crystalline dust can gather on machine components, for example, whereas jelly products are also pressure-sensitive. The use of the wrong grip width results in deformation. This text provides an overview of the factors to be taken into account when packaging jelly products individually.

As well-established variety of confectionery, jelly is used in countless recipes. As the hydrophilic substance tends to stick together, various separating agents are employed. Examples include caster sugar, wax/oil or a coating, such as chocolate. In Europe, the greatest demand for individually packaged jelly comes from southern and eastern Europe.

Product knowledge is vital

In order to achieve optimal results in machine processing, the system partner providing the packaging machine solution must have very detailed knowledge of the product being packaged and the manufacturing situation. This constitutes the basis for ensuring the machinery is suitably equipped.

The upstream manufacturing process and the atmospheric environment determine parameters such as the temperature and product consistency. For example, fundamental properties associated with the recipe include moisture content and surface hardness.

Impact on the machine and the jelly

The packaging process is impaired by any damage done to the jelly and consequent machine faults. Machine faults caused by product damage reduce efficiency and defectively packaged products have to be written off as rejects.

The pressure load above all impacts on the jelly products during the packaging process. The jelly becomes deformed. Crushing occurs and cracks appear in the surface layer. Such damage may also occur during the feeding process and product separation. Several products can also stick together here.

The accumulation of damaged products is another source of machine faults. Sugar clusters attached to the product or excessive sugaring generally increases wear of the machine. In moist conditions, the jelly forms a syrupy mass, which sticks to and clogs up operational components and results in restricted mechanical performance and packaging quality.

Preventative measures and making the right choices

Selecting the appropriate processes and components is vitally important. This helps to protect the product and minimize the risk of machine faults. Product separation is a salient example in this context. In contrast to traditional hard candy packaging, the product flow is not distributed by brushes into individual pockets. The brush damages the product and removes too much sugar. Product quality deteriorates and the sugar trickles into the mechanical components. Consequently, a plate feeding system with an air-blast device is used for sugared jelly. The rotation of the plate and the strength of the air blast must be adapted to the product.

The better the products are distributed into the separate pockets, the higher the so-called filling level. This measurement indicates what percentage of the separate pockets is filled per time unit and conversely how much empty space is left. This enables the calculation of the maximum number of products which can be handled and wrapped per time unit.

An optimal filling level is also ensured by selecting the appropriate component coating. The products should move along easily. The plate size provides a further means of control. The plate size and the number of pockets positioned around its circumference have a decisive impact on product protection. Chocolate-covered jelly products are ideally fed on a belt and continually removed to avoid damaging the coating.

As tight as necessary but as loose as possible

Three key factors have to be aligned to the product for the components coming into contact with the product. Geometry is paramount, and must fit the shape of the jelly. The machine manufacturer has to take account of the product’s tolerances under normal production conditions. A further consideration is selecting the suitable material, whereby suitability in terms of contact with foodstuffs, wear resistance and adhesive properties are significant aspects. The third factor is the dimensioning of the operational components’ holding forces, which is determined on the basis of the specific product characteristics.

As explained, sugar icing and other product deposits have a detrimental impact on the product separation process. A reject device is therefore integrated into the feeding system - broken or oversized products are eliminated and do not even reach the packaging process as a result.

If the jelly is still too moist and therefore sticky when reaching the packaging machine, the preliminary process needs to be optimized. This can be achieved, for example, by providing additional interim storage of products (conditioning).

If despite all preventative measures products still stick together or coat components with sugar, an easily accessible packaging machine is the most attractive option for manufacturers. The same applies to the design as a whole. For example, encapsulated operating heads protect the mechanical components from ingressing sugar.

The example of double twist wrap

Implementation of the continuous packaging machine method represents progress in comparison to the discontinuous method, in particular for the processing of jelly products. The product is fed in continuous motion through the process and minimizes burdens and stress by comparison with stop-and-go operation.

Theegarten-Pactec is systematically implementing the continuous method with the MCH wrapping machine. All operating processes are carried out in motion. Product transfer between the two operating heads is based on the “cog wheel” principle.

As the MCH only has two main operating heads, the number of product transfers is reduced to a minimum. By implementing the continuous operating principle, the MCH achieves optimal performance in terms of product protection and efficiency, even at 1000 products per minute.

All dates
03 Nov
2020-11-03 – 2020-11-05

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