Flexible pouches are a practical way to package precooked foods for the human- and pet food market. However, flexible pouches tend to become wet during the production process’s final stages, i.e., retorting. Wet pouches are more challenging to handle, and the moisture can compromise the integrity of cardboard boxes, leading to handling and shipping complications.
Drying flexible pouches during production is a critical step in packaging that ensures the final product’s integrity, appearance, and ease of handling. It also promotes equipment efficiency, helps avoid box damage, and reduces downtime during production and shipping.
Incorporating industrial drying in the final stages of production is essential for high-quality standards, product longevity, and attending to supply chain considerations. Drying machines offer a fast and efficient method to remove moisture, preventing microbial growth, contamination, label misapplication, and other packaging issues.
Maintaining Integrity: Why Drying Flexible Pouches is Essential
It is crucial to ensure the integrity of flexible pouches by thoroughly drying them for several critical reasons. These pouches are commonly used for packaging various food products, so they must be dried before sealing and packaging to ensure optimal quality, safety, efficiency, and packaging reliability.
Flexible pouches rely on robustness to maintain their shape and prevent leakage. Wet pouches compromise the packaging material’s strength, i.e., the boxes into which they are packed. This makes them prone to failures like tearing, opening, puncturing, or deformation during processing, packaging, and shipping.
Drying flexible pouches also helps with handling issues in robotic packaging. When the pouches are wet, the vacuum grippers on the automated packaging equipment might not get a decent hold on them, causing them to slip, puncture, or deform. Mishandling due to lack of grip could compromise the structural integrity of the pouches and the shipping packaging.
In addition to maintaining structural integrity, drying pouches before packaging can promote hygiene and safety. Moisture within the cardboard can create a breeding ground for bacteria and mould, posing significant risks to the product and consumer health even if the pouches remain intact.
Efficiency in Action: The Role of Air-Drying Machines in Packaging
Air-drying machines are a crucial component of production and packaging, providing several benefits that contribute to streamlined operations and high-quality products. These machines are designed to eliminate moisture from various packaging components, ensuring the products are well-packaged and protected while promoting efficiency and saving costs.
Here’s how air-drying machines promote efficiency in the production of flexible pouch products:
- Drying speeds up production cycles: Air-drying machines facilitate the rapid drying of packaging materials, which helps to reduce the time needed between manufacturing and packaging stages. This helps to minimise delays and optimise the use of packaging lines.
- It helps preserve product integrity: Air-drying machines help to maintain product integrity by efficiently eliminating unwanted moisture. Moisture can negatively affect the quality of packaged goods, which must then be removed during quality inspections, reducing efficiency.
- Drying allows efficient handling: In automated packaging lines, moisture makes it difficult for robotic vacuum grippers to grasp flexible pouches effectively. Drying the pouches reduces this risk and thus promotes packaging line efficiency.
- It promotes cost-effectiveness: Air-drying machines promote cost-effectiveness by increasing throughput, allowing manufacturers to package more products in a given timeframe. This, combined with reduced risk of product damage due to moisture, leads to lower production costs and waste.
- Drying ensures the reliability of packaging materials: Damp packaging can result in compromised seals, leading to leaks, contamination, and breakages. Moisture can also weaken the adhesive used to strengthen the box and cause the cardboard to disintegrate or tear. However, thoroughly drying flexible pouches before packing reduces these risks favourably.
Beyond the Surface: Preventing Microbial Growth and Adhesive Issues with Proper Drying
Properly drying flexible pouches is necessary to prevent microbial growth and adhesive issues in packaging. For instance, even if the flexible pouches are unaffected by external moisture, the cardboard shipping packaging can be compromised in a few ways:
Moisture on packaging surfaces creates a favourable environment for microbial growth, which could pose a significant threat to the safety and quality of the product. Manufacturers can reduce the risk of surface contamination on flexible pouches by ensuring thorough drying.
Additionally, adhesive issues can arise when labels and seals are applied to wet surfaces. Insufficient drying may compromise the efficacy of adhesives for label application, printing, or sealing, e.g., through poor bonding, detachment, or uneven application. This not only affects the product’s visual appeal but raises concerns about the quality of its contents.
Operational Excellence: How Industrial Drying Solutions Enhance Product Quality
In the world of packaging, achieving operational excellence is closely linked to product quality, and using industrial drying solutions plays a crucial role in achieving and maintaining high standards. Here are some ways drying solutions can enhance product quality:
- Prevention of contamination and degradation: Industrial drying solutions ensure moisture is removed from packaging materials after retorting, preventing issues like mould growth, bacterial contamination, and degradation of the packaged product.
- Promotion of packaging durability: Proper drying contributes to the durability of packaging materials, e.g., cardboard, preventing deterioration that could compromise the structural integrity of the boxes.
- Streamlining production processes: Industrial drying solutions streamline production processes, reducing downtime and optimising efficiency. Rapid drying enables faster packaging cycles, leading to increased throughput and cost-effectiveness.
Branding and Presentation: The Impact of Drying on Label and Print Clarity
Drying processes wield a significant influence on the branding and presentation of products and packaging, particularly concerning label and print clarity. In packaging specifically, labels serve as crucial elements of brand and logistics communication, conveying brand identity, product information, safety guidelines, and logistical instructions.
Insufficient drying of flexible pouches may lead to smudging, bleeding, or waviness in printed labels and laser-printed information, compromising overall aesthetic and legibility. Additionally, illegible labels on boxes can lead to products not being distributed correctly, if at all.
Therefore, it’s essential to thoroughly dry flexible pouches – especially before packaging – to maintain the brand’s identity and ensure the packaging is robust and labels are clear enough to withstand the supply chain from production to final user.
Air drying machines have many functions in producing flexible pouch products. An essential function is the final drying of the pouch after the contents have been retorted in an autoclave. All moisture must be removed from flexible pouches before packaging for distribution to preserve the integrity of the pouch boxes and identifying labels and the product itself.
One of Secomak’s industrial drying solutions is made for the exact purpose of flexible pouch drying to prepare for shipment. Contact Secomak to discuss your unique air movement needs to enhance production efficiency and product excellence.