Improve Quality Control With On-site gas Mixer
Florette is one of the biggest suppliers of pre-packaged, washed and ready-to-eat salad-cut/chopped salad in Europe. With its headquarters in France, Florette operates sites in several countries across Europe. For a product such as chopped salad, freshness is vital for the reputation of the brand. To ensure that the product remains fresh and has a good shelf life, some are packaged in a Modified Atmosphere.
The gas mixture usually consists of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. In some cases oxygen is also included in the mixture, depending on the product.
One of Florette’s processing plants is located at Lessay in northern France. This facility produces between 200,000 and 220,000 packages of salad each day – that is around 60 million packages each year. The salad is bagged on 11 vertical flow packaging lines.
In recent years the management at the Lessay site decided it was time to upgrade the aging gas mixing system. Packaging Manager Axel Montgermont explains: ”We were operating three mixers – two of them for two-gas mixtures, and one for a three-gas mixture. The mixers were getting old, probably 15 or 20 years.”
There were two main problems with the system, says M. Montgermont. Firstly the mixers were struggling to supply a consistent gas mixture to the packages. And for Modified Atmosphere Packaging it is vitally important that the producers can be certain that each package coming off the line contains the correct gas mixture. If not, quality assurance is compromised and the shelf life of the package will be reduced.
The second problem was that one mixer would feed gas to several lines simultaneously. If a problem arose with that mixer, it means that all the lines were affected. This would result in unnecessary down-time for the lines.
High-capacity gas mixer free up time
The Lessay plant was already a customer of Dansensor, the Denmark-based specialist in MAP equipment. The company uses headspace analysers CheckMate and CheckPoint to test the gas mixture in packages coming off the production line.
The team at Lessay decided to install Dansensor’s state-of-the-art MAP Mix Provectus gas mixer. The Provectus is a compact, high-capacity gas mixer, capable of delivering large volumes of gas. It was judged that the best solution would be to have one MAP Mix Provectus mixer for each of the 11 packaging lines.
The system was introduced in January 2015 and, says M. Montgermont, has been highly successful. ”The MAP Mix Provectus is simple to operate and can be easily programmed for different gas mixtures,” he says. ”It is very practical and gives good stability.”
There is now much more consistency of the gas mixture in the packages, with low variation. The mixers need less maintenance than previously, which gives more time for staff at the plant to carry out other duties.
And because each packaging line has its own dedicated mixer, if a problem does arise with one of the mixers it means that only one packaging line is affected – not several, as was previously the case.
The main motivation
M. Montgermont says that the commercial support and the technical support provided by Dansensor has been excellent.
”Overall installing the MAP Mix Provectus mixers on our packaging lines has been a very good experience,” says M. Montgermont. ”Our main motivation for moving to MAP Mix Provectus was not primarily a financial one but rather to get better quality control over the product. We need to be confident of the shelf life of the product, so the main impact of the new system is protecting our brand and ensuring that the customer gets a good product and can have confidence in the stated shelf life that is on the package.”
M. Montgermont concludes: ”I would certainly recommend MAP Mix Provectus as a gas mixer that is easy to operate, provides a stable mixture and gives good performance.”