TNA assists snack manufacturer stay ahead

As a producer and co-packer of a variety of corn-based snacks, from tortilla chips to snacks mixes, popcorns and extruded snacks, Keystone Food Products depends on flexible, high-performance packaging solutions that can be easily integrated into its existing production line in the US. 

With a growing market requirement for smaller bag sizes, Keystone needed to expand its plant’s manufacturing capabilities while still maintaining profitability.

Flexible solutions for expanded capabilities

Keystone chose the tna robag FX 3ci for its facility, as its turnkey packaging system could be easily integrated with existing equipment. With performance improvements of up to 30% in both output and the reduction of rejects, the new packaging system has significantly increased the speed and precision of the entire production, helping Keystone to optimise performance while catering to the demand for smaller bags.

Allowing for any jaw configuration (single, flat, double or triple) or size, the tna robag FX 3ci offered Keystone the flexibility it needed for its range of packaging services, including its quattropack operations. Plus, the tna system does not require any mechanical adjustments when changing product or film — an important benefit for Keystone, which required a simple, yet efficient machine to facilitate the switch between different bag formats and products. Future performance increases can be realised by upgrading the jaw set-up, leaving Keystone prepared for the future.

Ensuring accuracy

Keystone is responsible for the packaging of both its own and other brands’ premium snacks. As such, the company needs a highly accurate weighing system to ensure that only the exact amount of product would be included in the bag. This avoids raw material waste and allows Keystone to produce an increased number of units from the same quantity of material.

The tna intelli-weigh omega 314 has proved to be an effective solution to Keystone’s challenges. By combining strain gauge load cells with digital filtering to virtually eliminate the influence of external vibration, the system allows for precision, high-speed weighing. As a result, discrepancies between bags are negligible. The modular design enables quick and easy troubleshooting and maintenance, and enhances product flow.

Improved product verification

Keystone also required a more automated verification system to enable it to maintain its quality standards.

Installation of the tna intelli-read 3 barcode scanner has enabled Keystone to maintain rapid packaging speeds while ensuring that its products are checked to the highest standards. The solution automatically scans the barcode on the film and crosschecks it to verify that the correct product is being processed. Mounted directly onto the film system of the tna robag, the tna intelli-read 3 scans the entire product’s width, making it virtually impossible to bypass as every barcode — regardless of where on the film it is printed — will be read. With the barcode scanning system in place, Keystone was able to speed up the bagging process, while being assured that only products at the right weight and with the correct packaging would leave the plant.

Maximising plant footprint

Keystone wanted a system that would increase its production capacity within the limited space that was available. Because the previous production set-up was fragmented, an important part of the installation process was to analyse the arrangement and provide more continuity in the way equipment was laid out.

Previously, each of Keystone’s machines had its own platform, occupying valuable floor space. By designing a single platform that would incorporate the three new packaging machines, tna was able to optimise the plant’s surface area, saving both time and space.

Another challenge was to adapt the layout to the plant’s low ceiling height. New machines were specifically tailored to meet space requirements and facilitate product transfer between different packaging stages. Before they could be packaged downstairs, light corn products were washed in the upstairs station. The lack of space, however, meant that conveyors could not be installed. The tna intelli air distribution system has a small footprint and gently transports bags and other lightweight packed products along a bed of air. It automatically discharges empty packets for optimal output and has flexible configuration plus several layout options.

The tna hyper-detect metal detector enabled Keystone to maximise the available floor space. Its design allows the metal detector to be positioned closer to the multihead weigher, reducing machine height and increasing the speed at which the bagger can produce finished bags. The system offers improved metal detection capabilities, while eliminating degradation in product transfer to ultimately deliver safe product throughout and minimise rejects. This provided Keystone with a stable operation for optimum sensitivity and consistent performance when inspecting products.