Optima Consumer said it has responded to increased awareness about product safety by conducting product-based market research. These demands by the market were translated into a new machine concept, the OPTIMA EGS, a machine designed for the fully automatic evacuation, gassing and seaming of infant formula products.
"The OPTIMA FS filling machine and the OPTIMA EGS enable us to supply the centerpiece of infant formula production lines from a single source," said Christoph Held, managing director of Optima Consumer.
The first OPTIMA EGS was put into operation in mid-2019 at the Mittelelbe dairy plant, also known as Elb-Milch.
"The OPTIMA EGS is a perfectly adapted system that combines high operating speeds and maximum safety and quality levels," said Uwe Bedau, managing director of Elb-Milch.
The company is part of the Krüger Group and has been producing dry milk products since 1991.
“Officially, the residual oxygen levels are lower than 1%, and so are in a range that meets all the requirements of modern infant nutrition. In reality, in production the values are usually much lower than this,” Bedau said.
Another feature is its compact design, as Optima Consumer said total cost of ownership (TCO) is an important basis for deciding whether to invest in new machines and systems.
All of the functions – evacuation, gassing and seaming – are contained within a small area. This effectively lowers the operating costs for the clean room. The space requirement has been reduced by more than 40% compared to conventional post-gassing systems. The OPTIMA EGS also operates with the high speeds of the OPTIMA FS filling machine.
"These points, along with Optima employees' commitment, has led us to purchase the OPTIMA EGS following the pilot phase," Bedau said.
A Chinese customer has also commissioned Optima to supply a complete high-care room – the heart of infant formula lines.
As well as the machine's small footprint, the company said users also benefit from the traceability of all the containers. With the OPTIMA EGS, it is possible to assign production data to each container in a clear and traceable way via the processing procedures.
This also includes documentation of all process parameters, for instance the negative pressure stages for meeting the residual oxygen values required for each individual can at every step in the process. This is possible because each can is evacuated, gassed and seamed individually.
Production data can be stored using the line management system developed by Optima, and critical key figures are clearly displayed. It also means entire production lines can be networked with machines made by different manufacturers, optimizing overall equipment effectiveness in a targeted way.
In the past, foreign bodies found in product have resulted in recall measures being taken, so protecting unsealed cans is vital. This need is met by the patented function lid. The cans are not transported open once the product has been added. They are closed with a function lid during evacuation and gassing. This eliminates the need for the additional function of clinching, so reducing the risk of imploding cans.
Optima said the aim is to achieve reduced residual oxygen levels. This has been met by an evacuation process specially developed for infant formula. The product is "brought to the boil" in the process via different pressure stages without the need for valves and the oxygen contained in the product is released. Depending on the product, a residual oxygen content of 0.5% is achieved with an output of up to 250 cans per minute.
The machine is now available worldwide.