Coffee Frac Pack Equipment Priorities: Speed, Seals, & More Speed

Tue, Jun 30, 2020

High Speed Coffee Packaging Solutions for Frac PacksFrac Pack Production Priorities

The coffee fractional pack market is very competitive, especially in North America, which has the highest demand for these convenient, pre-measured portions. If you are a producer, this is likely your order of priority for your coffee frac pack equipment: speed, seal integrity and fill accuracy.

So often, coffee frac pack equipment is sold based on the mechanical speed capacity of the sealing system. What’s often lost is the importance of other factors.

For the efficiency of your production line your methods of feeding and filling of the product will often have the biggest impact on speed and this speed is at risk of becoming hampered when your packaging line equipment is sourced from multiple suppliers.

For many coffee packaging lines, the auger filler supplier says, “Absolutely, it can fill ___ bags per minute.” The VFFS supplier says, “Absolutely, it can run ___ bags per minute.” but put the two together and unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way.

Efficiency Detriments and Solutions

Because of tight margins producers often experience, there is little room for error or downtime, and being able to maximize every efficiency possible is how producers really thrive in this segment.

These are the most common bottlenecks that we’ve seen for producers holding them back from achieving a consistent high speed solution.

Accuracy of Filling

Many producers experience issues with weight control due to inconsistent head pressure with their feeding method. The inconsistency of your head pressure causes fluctuations in the density of the product, so the frac packs have different product weights. Often producers calculate and over-fill by a certain % to ensure they are not shorting any of the bags coming off of the line. This product giveaway carries a significant opportunity cost and detracts from their potential margin.

For anyone experiencing filling accuracy issues with their product, it is recommended that you ensure that your product is being properly metered into your auger, such as with a horizontal feed screw. Our family of augers is able to achieve consistent accuracy within +/- 0.5% and is engineered to run perfectly with the bagger to solve and prevent these issues  for coffee frac pack producers.

Seal Integrity

For all coffee, oxygen intrusion is enemy number one and the faster that producers try to run their coffee pouch machine, the higher likelihood they have of getting particles in the seal area and running into seal integrity issues. Sometimes they can compensate by dialing up the heat, but this typically causes film de-lamination, wrinkling and other aesthetic issues.

When you are pulling samples for leaker testing, while a minimum of 12 inHG is standard, many of our customers easily pull 15” to 17” of mercury (inHg) of vacuum. The ROVEMA D-Motion sealing technology allows for longer dwell times of the jaws on the seals, eliminating the need for excessive heat to hold a great seal at high speeds. Many customers look for the burst in the non-seal areas of the bag before seal areas when conducting these tests.

Adequate Bag Head space

We understand the unique challenge posed by trying to run your dark roast coffee. Because it is much less dense, it has a tendency to float, so you’re either having to cut your speeds down significantly to let it settle between charges or it causes head space issues. There are some workarounds, but at a cost. When trying to use the same films as a for a light roast, producers either must use an unregistered film so that they can adjust to a longer cut off or buy separate film, which can affect unit costs.

One excellent solution when running into this issue is to have an adjustable column jack so that you can easily control the drop height of the grounds, allowing for less head space in the bag and less product kickback as it’s being filled. This is also a great sustainability solution as you can cut film material usage and costs.

What Really is High Speed?

With our most technologically advanced solution, the BVC 260 Flex, our customers can expect to run 130-140 bags per minute for an average 1.75oz frac pack.

Another great option that has helped our smaller customers is the BVK, which can consistently run 115 to 120 bags per minute. It is a workhorse but is priced at a very competitive level.

Other factors that you should also be considering when you’re researching coffee bagging equipment also pertain to standard features and efficiencies that can shorten your downtime, changeover time and generally just simplify your processes.

Here are a few questions we would generally ask:

  • When you are running through your changeover task list, how easy is it for you or your maintenance team members to get your auger clean?
  • Would you benefit from increased flexibility on your line, perhaps being able to run an urn sized bag on the same coffee packaging machine?
  • What is your current finished weight QC process?
  • Once produced, how are you getting your frac packs into cases?

These are the types of questions coffee frac pack producers should be seeking answers to in researching their next coffee packaging solution. To make it easy, here are our short answers to those questions:

rovema-auger-filler
  1. Our auger filler has a standard split door hopper that swings open and a pneumatic chuck to mount the feed screw to maximize accessibility. It also comes standard with a window to allow you to view and monitor the fill level in the auger.
  2. If flexibility would be a benefit, our BVC 260 flex is built to run several different bag styles and sizes with the same VFFS machine, so if you’re a smaller operation and changeover times are holding you back from maximized efficiency, this would be a great solution for you. This solution is also great for producers that need to run coffee bags with valves for degassing purposes.
  3. We integrate an automatic downstream checkweigher that monitors and sends signals to the auger anytime the fill weight needs to be adjusted due to density changes in the coffee.
  4. We have a partially automated yet simple bulk fill system for case loading frac packs. Many producers are still stopping their machines every 24 to 36 fracs to load their case and this is incredibly strenuous on VFFS machines. Our solution is called the SACL and it’s equipped with a photo eye that counts out your fill amount and has a trap door to drop it into the case, allowing your line to run continuously.

Single Brand / Single Source

These terms are often used when describing many different packaging line solutions. Sometimes it’s used to describe a common brand when working with a global conglomerate or even machine components from different sources being physically integrated at an off site location prior to installation

As we discussed in a previous article on single source, our simpler definition is, “One team for all machines: design, engineering, manufacturing, acceptance testing, commissioning, training and support by people who share the same cafeteria.”

Our VFFS machines do play well with others, but there are some specific benefits for why you should buy from a single source for your coffee frac pack equipment:

  • Fully Integrated HMI that controls and monitors your entire packaging line.
  • Fully Integrated Controls and Utilities for the bagger and auger that are housed in a single electrical cabinet. No separate power drop required. We power the auger through the bagger.
  • One Source for Service- with 24/7 free phone support anytime you run into an issue.
  • One Source for Parts with no machine end of life- We supply all Rovema parts for the lifetime of your machine. We have some that are 50+ years old and still running beautifully.

Consult our Coffee Industry Experts

Coffee fractional packs, while they are a simple bag design, can be deceptively complex for some producers to package at high speeds. If you are looking to increase your speeds, simplify your sourcing and drive out any of the inefficiencies above, we would love the opportunity to be a part of the quoting process. If you aren’t in the position to make any drastic changes but would benefit from a free efficiency audit of your line, we would be happy to walk through challenges you may be having to see if there are any improvements you can make.

Maximizing Operational Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) for Vertical Bagging Operations

If you’ve got a challenge with your coffee packaging line, it’s likely we’ve seen it before and would be happy to help. If you’d like to contact us, fill out the form below and our experts will reach out to you: