Fords supplies aseptic dairy line

Fords Packaging Systems of Bedford, UK, has just installed three
high speed capping presses and twelve cap chutes and cap appliers
for Morningstar Foods in Virginia, US.

Fords Packaging Systems of Bedford, UK, has just installed three high speed capping presses and twelve cap chutes and cap appliers for a US food company.

The 300 bottle per minute line has been installed by Morningstar Foods in its plant at Mount Crawford, Virginia, to fill HDPE bottles with Hershey flavoured milk drinks and Folgers Jakada coffee beverages. The main contractor for the packaging line was Stork Food & Dairy Systems, the US subsidiary of Stork Group in The Netherlands.

The new aseptic filling line follows an earlier contract for an ESL filling line installed by Stork last year which served as a prototype for the new plant. Fords has already won orders from Stork for two additional machines, also for Morningstar, taking the total value of this business to well over £500,000 (€780,000). Further orders are expected from other US and European customers.

The fully integrated line installed at Mount Crawford starts with two Stork blow moulders which use filtered air to produce bottles with closed tops. The bottles are conveyed to a machine that cuts off the tops and then to a leak tester which removes from the line any which fail to meet stringent pressure retention criteria.

The tested bottles are conveyed to a Stork 12-lane filler, unique in the industry for this application because it is of linear rather than rotary design.

The first operation in the filler is to inject a vaporised hydrogen peroxide solution into the bottles, to ensure a completely aseptic package, and then to flush this out with superhot air. Two filling stations in each lane then each dispense about half the total product volume required to fill the bottles. These are conveyed to the top-sealing station where plastic laminated foil lids are conduction-sealed to the bottles after being sterilised by vaporised hydrogen peroxide solution.

Each lid is punched from a roll of the laminated material by the Fords capping press located on a platform above the filler. According to Ford, its equipment was chosen by Stork for this role because of its proven track record of designing and supplying reliable machines capable of running at high speeds over extended periods with the minimum of maintenance.

Peter Smith, chief executive of Fords Packaging Systems, said: "In recent years Fords has supplied a range of high technology packaging equipment for a wide variety of applications. However, the company really made its name in the supply of capping presses and sealing machines for the dairy industry and demand for these products is currently at a 15-year high. This latest contract has allowed us to combine our traditional skills with the latest packaging technology.

"The US has been the largest market for our products over many years and these contracts are further evidence of the confidence which our many American customers have in our products and our technical ability. Prospects for further orders in the near future from the USA are extremely good and we are currently on a significant recruitment drive to double our manufacturing capacity."

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