To meet demands of growers across the market to reduce labor, enable faster packaging speeds and lower maintenance costs when wrapping iceberg lettuce, the engineers at Redpack Packaging Machinery have been working closely with growers across the globe to come up with a solution that wraps iceberg in a tight pack that still retains the required shelf life – all while still on the fields.
“Iceberg lettuce is predominately packaged in twist wrap in the UK, as well as Germany. The German market also uses open hand bags”, explains Rick Briston, Business Development Manager for Redpack. “We have developed a machine called the NTS-BMI which has been designed and manufactured with features that optimize the packing of iceberg which includes gentle handling of the product in order to minimize damage to the lettuce. The machine has a unique V-shape infeed which holds the products and prevents it from rolling around, something that is especially critical while running at fast wrapping speeds and on field rigs. It also has an overhead paddle system which stabilizes the product at transfer to ensure correct product placement onto the film.”
Stability is crucial when packaging produce on a moving rig and it is just one of the positive attributes of the NTS-BMI, Rick continues: “The lettuce can be wrapped at higher speeds than a traditional twistwrapper and the packaging material is not as limited to type of film or supplier.” It can also increase the output per person per hour.
“Like all of our machines, the Redpack NTS-BMI is designed to keep maintenance costs to a minimum and reduce labor head count. This is why we also offer the option to have an integrated label applicator and printer on the machine where the machine can apply labels and print on the film while packaging- All these steps can be combined into one, rather than using manual labor further down the line. Even the compressor providing the air supply, the ‘lazy susan’ rotary table and the packing rack is integrated into the lifting chassis base frame so that the whole packing line can be easily lifted and moved around as one piece. Growers are already seeing a massive increase in efficiencies and huge savings in costs.”
Part of the RedPack team at this years' Fruit Logistica
Being able to combine all these steps right after harvesting the produce eliminates double handling: “The lettuce is packaged at its freshest and does not need to pass through additional hands and environments where it would risk possible quality decline or contamination. This has a major positive effect on the shelf life.”
Iceberg lettuce is not the only product which can be packaged on the fields. “Little Gem, celery, Pak Choi, Chinese leaf and romaine lettuce are some of the other vegetables. Generally speaking, any products with low counts per package, such as wholehead salads can be easily harvested and prepared on the fields.”
For more information:
Redpack Packaging Machinery
39 Barnard Road
Phone: +44 (0) 1603 722 280