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  • Ann Horan

Flow Wrappers – The Packaging Industry’s Secret Workhorses

From chocolate to cheese and from cabbages to cauliflower, most of the products we consume regularly will have spent time in a flow wrapper. It’s estimated that there are tens of thousands of these versatile and capable packaging machines operating in the UK. So exactly what do they do?

Flow wrapping is also known in the trade as Horizontal Form-Fill and Seal (HFFS), Basically, it’s a totally automated packaging process which quite simply makes a bag out of a single roll of film. The machines use heat and a cutting process to create a sealed bag which already contains the products it protects.

Every flow wrapping machine operates around four basic principles:

· Form a bag

· Fill the bag

· Seal the bag

· Discharge the finished bag

So just how does a flow wrapper wrap?

What goes into this bag will vary dramatically, but typically foodstuffs are the prime target, with flow wrapped packs providing effective protection in terms of food safety at every level.

So how does it work?

The products to be wrapped are fed either manually or automatically onto a conveyor, which moves them along to an inline ‘folding box’. The wrapping material or film feeds into this box, and the material is guided to form a tubular shape around the product.

After the product has travelled through the folding box, using what are known as hot or cold fin seal wheels, the two edges of the packaging material are joined and sealed together under the centre of the product.

The product is then transported through rotary sealing/cutting jaws. As the cutting head rotates it simultaneously seals and cuts the front of one package and the back end of another in a quick and efficient movement.

The finished package is then discharged from the sealing/cutting head area by a conveyor belt, and the discharge conveyor carries the finished package away.

Presentation is key

Presentation is important for consumer products. The packages formed by flow wrappers need to be consistent in size and shape for each application and to protect their contents adequately. The finished look of the process is also important, providing a professional finish without slowing down the packaging process.

Flow wrapping machines are designed for versatility and flexibility, and can be customised to handle a wide range of different products, sizes and packaging films.

Why choose a flow wrapper for your packaging process?

Speed is a key driver, with flow wrappers dramatically increasing packaging throughput and therefore responsiveness to customer requirements. Professional presentation for the finished items is also important, adding perceived value. The speed and efficiency also contributes towards reducing packaging costs per unit.

A flow wrapper can completely transform your packaging processes. They can be used for applications ranging from low volume, specialised items through to high speed, high volume packaging requirements, using a wide selection of standard films as well as sustainable options where required.

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