Senba is located in California, USA and is the branch of the Japanese food giant Senba Foods Co., Ltd. in the United States. The plant went into production in 2001 and is engaged in the processing of its own branded products. It specializes in the production of Asian foods for retail, wholesale, food service and industrial users. The facilities of the factory are certified by the QAI organization and certified for kosher food production. One of the main packaging lines in the factory used the TWB1 vertical forming/filling/sealing machine manufactured by Tokyo Automatic Machinery Works.

This vertical forming/filling/sealing machine is equipped with a two-port funnel made by Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery Company. The Spee-Dee3500 Digitronic screw propeller is combined with a capacity cup funnel and consists of a rotary indexing plate. Use several capacity cups to distribute the product. Both devices are controlled by programmable logic controllers and touch screens located in the enclosure of the appliance and are equipped with EcoDrive digital AC servo system. The system has high-resolution feedback that allows precise control of the position and speed of the MKD rotary servo motor. These systems are provided by Bosch Rexroth. With the dual-port funnel, Senba can simultaneously pack two different products into the same pouch. The advantage of this is that the various ingredients can be mixed during filling without the delamination that occurs when loading separately. The purpose of initially installing the system was to operate the shortbread mixture and chocolate chips, the shortbread mixture was dispensed by a screw propeller and the chocolate chips were dispensed by a cup-shaped funnel.

The auger and cup hopper are installed separately as separate components and then integrated with the bagging machine control device. The problem of synchronization between the two loading systems and the bagging machine is critical, especially when the operating speed is high. Because if two components such as rice and spices fall at different speeds, problems arise. The product was sent to the hopper by Eriez's vibratory conveyor.

During the PD Magazine visit, the line was processing 2 pounds of basmati rice for Lotus Foods. After the bagging machine sends a product request signal to the funnel, it starts a work cycle. This signal triggers the operation of the auger and funnel, allowing the product to fall through the pipe into the bagging machine after being dispensed. The back of the machine is equipped with a film, which can be pulled out to cover the floating roller and tension control. The film then passes through the top of the machine and is pulled down onto the forming ring and pulled by two traction bands onto the vertical sealing bar. The belt is moved inwards and the film is pulled down during the part of the working cycle so that the film rests on the loading tube. When the product is loaded, leave the pipe during the rest of the cycle.

After the product is removed from the funnel, a confirmation signal is sent to the bagging machine to prove that the request from the bagging machine has been received and the product is removed. The funnel is instructed and starts pulling the film. The signal exchange between the bagging machine and the auger allows the bagging machine to work in a "request-action" manner. That is, if the funnel does not dispense the product, the film will not be pulled out and no bags will be produced.

At the same time as the film pulling is completed, the final sealing mechanism of the bagging machine begins to close. The closing action of the film traction and final sealing mechanism is done in a timed manner with slight overlap in time. In other words, the seal jaws begin to close when the film moves, but do not reach the closed position until the film has stopped moving. This reduces the time to completion of each step and therefore increases the yield. After the seal is closed, it is still necessary to wait for a period of time for heat sealing. When the heat seal is complete, the cutter begins to move and the newly formed package is cut.

The bagging machine can store 48 different product settings, including operating parameters such as time and temperature settings. These settings can be modified through the touch-sensitive manual interface, which greatly reduces the time required for product conversion. The operator interface also allows the operator to obtain mechanical performance data, such as production statistics and input/output (I/O) status, through the controller.

On vertical forming/filling/sealing machines, the product passes through the metalchek 9 metal detector and CK 2500 checkweigher. Both devices come from Lock Inspection Systems. The CK 2500 Checkweigher is a highly sensitive digital weighing system with an accuracy of 1/2g to 1g. The CK 2500 is designed for maximum flexibility and retains various product speed and other operating setup data in memory. Just touch the button to recall these settings. In addition, comprehensive statistics are maintained in memory and this data can be transmitted to the central station.

Senba also owns a single Model 15DBC 105 paperboard packaging machine. This equipment comes from Adco Manufacturing. Although not directly connected to the production line, it comes in handy when the customer requests a cardboard box. 15DBC105 is a continuously running, automatic loading cardboard packaging machine with adjustable feeding and conveying capacity. Its range of sizes and speeds can vary widely. It can complete 50 to 125 cartons per minute. It has a two-head rotating cardboard feeder and a 4-foot horizontally-driven cardboard bin with "no products, no carton" and "no carton, no filling". The automated product insertion device is equipped with an adjustable overload sensor system with automatic retraction capability. The cardboard packaging machine is equipped with a hot melt dispenser manufactured by Nordson.

At Senba, the latest packaging operations are carried out on IM/S7-14 horizontal forming/filling/sealing machines produced by KHS-Bartelt and can produce flexible packages for dry products. The machine was installed last May and is equipped with Indramat servo drives from Bosch Rexroth and Allen-Bradley controllers from Rockwell Automation.

The film is mounted on an advanced web handling system and the web handling system is equipped with a web tensioner dancer roller. When the film passes through the shaping plow it is made flat or sachet. The pouch is then heat sealed using a temperature controlled seal bar. Photographic registration of sensitive components and servo drive feed rollers are used in conjunction to produce pouches of various widths. After the pouch is formed, it is cut with a mechanical knife.

The pouches are then transferred to the chain with the spring clamps and the pouches are transported by the chain to the loading station. The pouch detection system detects whether the pouch is in place to prevent the filling operation without the pouch. The machine is equipped with two funnels to handle different types of products: the powder is processed with a servo-driven screw filler, and the particulates are processed with a retractable 8-cup rotary positive displacement loader. The product to be filled is conveyed using a Flexicon tilting screw conveyor and the product is discharged into a hopper mounted above a horizontal form/fill/seal machine.

The product falls through the stainless steel tool into the funnel and then flows into the pouch. The bag is opened by a vacuum cup when the pouch is filled under the nozzle. The pouch filled with the product is then transported to the top sealing station and after the seal is cleaned, the top is heat sealed. Then a display hole with a diameter of 5/16 inches and 270 degrees is punched at the top of the pouch, after which the pouch is picked up by a vacuum arm and placed on the finished conveyor belt.

The servo indexing head on the machine allows the electronic cam to adjust the acceleration and deceleration of the pouch clamping chain during sealing and filling operations. Allen-Bradley programmable logic controllers and touch screens allow operators to enter or modify machine function settings such as timing, digital and graphical temperature control, recipe storage and retrieval, maintenance and troubleshooting.

The sachets were manually packed after passing through a checkweigher. The kits were sealed with Belcor Industrial's Model 150 semi-automatic Tape Dispenser tape.

During the PD Magazine visit, the horizontal form/fill/seal machine was processing 40 grams of nutritional pouches of mixed milk and soy flour for California's InTec Holding. (Packaging Digest)

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