With its five product brands of Bell, Abraham, ZIMBO, Môssieur Polette and Hoppe, the Bell Group has a broadly based portfolio of brands. Bell also produces branded and own label products for various suppliers. This enables the Group to cover the diverse requirements of its customers, who include the retail and wholesale sectors, as well as the catering and food industries.
Bell Schweiz AG concentrates its poultry production for the Swiss market at its Zell location in the canton of Lucerne. In 2014, the company purchased an automatic MULTIVAC T 300 traysealer for this production site after this model had already proved itself at other locations. The new T 300 is used in the Convenience Food division for packing the smaller batches of various frozen products such as nuggets, chicken schnitzel and kebabs. The products are packed in large trays (300 x 202 mm). The majority of the packs are only sealed, but some of the products are also packed under modified atmosphere (MAP).
Traysealer technology is a valuable alternative for poultry production in Zell. The T 300 can be used flexibly for various packaging tasks at this location. “Here in Zell, we mainly pack our poultry products on large MULTIVAC thermoforming packaging lines. However, we always use the T 300 if a customer requires a smaller batch of large packs and prefers trays,” explains Peter Ruepp of Bell. Thanks to its ability to respond flexibly to special requirements, Bell Schweiz AG can offer its customer added value in this way.
When it came time to invest in the new traysealer, the Bell subsidiary in Zell put its trust in its many years of experience with MULTIVAC. “Our sales partner at MULTIVAC knows our company. It makes a big difference when the sales adviser is familiar with the circumstances on site, and immediately understands what we need,” says Thomas Graf, Operations Manager at Bell in Zell.
Although the packaging procedures used by Bell - thermoforming packaging and packing in trays - are very different from each other, there are synergies when different packaging technologies from the same manufacturer are used. One of these is the design standards and machine quality for both technologies needing to be equally high. Another is the requirement of a similar user interface, allowing the change from one machine type to be much easier for the production staff. This means training periods can be reduced and, most importantly, fewer operating errors are made.
“Training was very straightforward for our staff. The construction of the machine is very simple and the operating method easy to understand, since it follows MULTIVAC’s proven operating concept,” says Peter Ruepp. As with the MULTIVAC thermoforming packaging machines, the traysealer is equipped with the intuitive HMI 2.0 user interface. The product settings, stored in the recipe memory and can be called up quickly for each of the products to be packed, are very practical for daily operation.
In the poultry production area at Zell, the trays are filled manually with frozen poultry products by two staff and the trays are then weighed and placed on the conveyor. After the trays have been sealed, they are removed from the discharge conveyor and labels with the product details are then applied by hand to the packs.
Due to the swivel castors, the T 300 can be moved within the production environment, and it can be quickly linked to an X-ray inspection system or another module. An X-ray inspection system enables possible foreign bodies in the packs to be detected - a function that is essential in meat and poultry production, so that bone splinters, for example, do not get into the retail chain.
After production, the machine is washed in the cleaning mode and it is then completely cleaned and prepared for the next production by the Cleaning team. The high-quality and durable stainless steel construction of the T 300 in the MULTIVAC Hygienic Design™ makes quick and hygienic cleaning very easy. The machine is therefore capable of being washed down completely. All hygiene-critical parts and areas are easily accessible.
Zell is not the only Bell production site where a T 300 is used. The Swiss company, which is among the leading meat processors in Europe, has already had good experiences with the traysealer model at several sites. “For reasons of standardisation, we work with the same equipment at as many locations as possible. We currently use a total of four T 300 traysealers at various subsidiaries, and always in those cases, where we want to have greater flexibility in our production capacity as regards to batch size and type of product,” explains Thomas Graf.
The T 300 at the Zell poultry site does not currently have to be converted since all the products are packed in a single tray format. However, if in the future, various pack formats and different materials need to be used, a software-supported format change can be made on the T 300. This enables the machine to be converted in just a few simple steps.
Max. tray depth (mm) < 125
Cycle output (cycles/min) < 6*
Hygiene standard MULTIVAC Hygienic Design™
*Depending on the equipment