How Transit Packaging Technology And Materials Ensure Food-Industry Safety: Beyond The Pandemic

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted all industries. The food industry is no exception.

The dramatic growth of online grocery shopping increased pressure on the industry to keep pace with demand, minimise waste, and uphold the highest quality and safety standards.

As the leader in transit packaging, Signode recognises that the key to maintaining and ensuring food safety is through the strategic application of technology and advanced materials across complex global supply chains.

 

Raw and Bulk Ingredients

Whether for in-store, food-processing plants, or animal feed, raw and bulk ingredients require special care during transporting and handling. For example, polybags, which are widely used in animal feed, tend to slip on each other when stacked. One innovative solution to avoid spillage and loss is using water-based adhesives, such as Signode’s Lock N’ Pop® adhesive that hold filled and stacked polybags in place during transit.

Lock N’ Pop is a cold-applied adhesive that doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue or cause tearing during unstacking like hot-melt adhesives can. And unlike solvent or latex-based materials that may be hazardous or difficult to clean and maintain, Lock N’ Pop adhesive is water-soluble, and its application equipment requires minimal maintenance.

 

Consumer Food Products

Transportation safety demands are driven by differing shelf-life requirements and manufacturing environments for consumer food products.

Handling millions of shelf-stable boxed food products requires automated load containment systems.  Rotary ring technology, like Signode’s Octopus® stretch wrapping equipment, is a common solution in high throughput environments. Signode’s Octopus stretch wrapping equipment can provide more than 200 different wrap patterns and can start and stop anywhere on the pallet, helping to ensure the product is tightly wrapped and that it arrives at its destination safely and uncontaminated.

Dairy must also keep up with equally high demand. These products have much tighter timeframes in terms of processing, packaging, and shipping to preserve shelf life. Any machine downtime in the stretch wrapping zone can cause a myriad of problems upstream and greatly affect product shelf life. Having a wrapping solution, like those offered by Signode, that can withstand the cold and challenging conditions of a dairy processing plant is critical to maintain shelf life.


Produce

Corrugated boxes that are typically used for packaging produce are often stored outside in the fields where produce is picked. If these boxes get wet due to exposure outdoors or otherwise, moisture can spread to the produce and leave them vulnerable to mold or bacteria growth.

Stretch hood technology, like Signode’s Lachenmeier® stretch hood equipment and patented Xeros® film, is ideal in this situation. With the film’s “10-sided” (5 outside surfaces + 5 inside surfaces) waterproof protection, growers can ensure their corrugated containers remain free from moisture before packing. The multi-layer film technology effectively manages sunlight to reduce condensation and creates an impermeable barrier to liquids. The technology also maintains barcode readability and prevents tears or punctures as bags are stretched over the corrugated load.

While Xeros film works great for keeping the produce packaging dry before use, once packed additional considerations need to be taken into account. Sealing with film will cause moisture to build up on the pallet, causing produce to rot or spoil early. To create necessary airflow, many growers will apply edge protection to the stacked pallet and secure the load with plastic strapping. Signode’s edge protection products are made with recycled laminated paper or commingled paper and plastic to provide sturdy corners for strapping or film applications.

For an alternative solution, Lock N’ Pop adhesive can be used when the use of strap and stretch wrap materials needs to be eliminated during shipping, to achieve a similar result and avoid additional packaging material or waste.

Optimisation for Automation and Shelf Life

Additional opportunities exist to optimise shelf life and mitigate the management of demand spikes. Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are available to prioritise product picking by expiration date. Signode’s StorFast® cart-based AS/RS system is an effective solution. Ideally suited for cold-storage and space limited environments, the modular system automatically tracks and stores items based on shelf life and expiration date.

 

Beyond COVID-19

Signode’s transit-packaging solutions can help to improve operations and increase profit for food producers and manufacturers by helping to reduce spoilage, breakage, and potential for mold growth, thereby increasing shelf life.  Innovation and optimisation of end-of-line packaging and logistics operations provides a critical opportunity to benefit the whole supply chain. Signode transit-packaging specialists are well-versed in the technology and strategies to help customers effectively pack, bundle, unitise, warehouse and transport products.

By Tim Gardner, Load Containment Solutions Segment Manager, Signode

 

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