Whitby Seafoods Ltd., a UK-based frozen seafood manufacturer, installed a new packaging and distribution line from tna, Dallas, Texas, nearly doubling its packaging speed. In fact, the investment provided additional capacity and seamless integration between systems, helping to save time and increase efficiency.

Whitby Seafoods specializes in locally sourced langoustines – or scampi – that are breaded and sold in bite-size portions. Whitby Seafoods recently underwent a rebrand, complete with an updated packaging design to appeal to a wider audience. New pack sizes range from between 200-300 grams in a standard pillow bag format. Therefore, Whitby Seafoods required a flexible packaging and distribution system that would allow it to expand its product portfolio and allow efficient product changes and integration with existing elements of the production line.
Faster packaging speeds

Whitby Seafoods was looking to increase capacity with a third packaging line. That’s why it installed the tna robag 3ci, a vertical-form-fill-seal (VFFS) packaging solution that allows consistent high quality at a fast speed for a range of bag sizes.

“Packaging line speed is crucial to maintaining food safety with frozen foods like seafood. While the two existing production lines operate at 70 bags per minute (bpm), the new line works comfortably at 140 bpm, effectively doubling product throughput. This now helps Whitby Seafoods to ensure products are processed as quickly as possible,” says Simon Hill, regional sales manager at tna.

With growing consumer demand for new products, Whitby Seafoods needed a flexible packaging system that would enhance production capacity. tna enabled the company to double its production speeds, while improving product quality.  

tna’s robag 3ci delivers a high-quality finish to Whitby Seafoods’ packaging. With a rotary jaw design that uses advanced sealing technology for improved seal integrity at high speeds, the new system helps to deliver a consistently appealing end product. The compact design, including a shorter bagging system height and small footprint, was ideal for the low ceiling in Whitby Seafoods’ factory. With the ability to walk around upstairs, operators have better visibility of the line and achieve stricter quality assurance standards. The new equipment also features a user-friendly interface, and helps Whitby Seafoods save significant time regarding ongoing operation and training in the long term.
Helping to realize further performance benefits, the packing system was fitted with the tna intelli-weigh omega 314 multi-head weigher. With capabilities for a 2,200 kg per hour infeed to the packaging system, it was imperative any upstream equipment could keep up with the fast speed of the bagger. The integration of the tna intelli-weigh omega 314 allowed for high-speed weighing with superior precision.

A race against time

Due to the frozen nature of Whitby Seafoods’ product range, it is crucial to maintain a continuous production process and keep product moving throughout the line to avoid thawing. Lengthy stoppage times for a film or product changeover can compromise food quality and safety, as well as increase wastage. Quick changeovers save valuable time, and ultimately, help to maintain high food safety standards. The tna robag 3ci and its simplified film system for easy film threading and high accuracy control improved efficiencies by reducing film waste and cutting changeover procedures from 2 minutes to 30 seconds.

Key to improving efficiencies was achieving the smooth transfer of products from one part of the production line to the next. Whitby Seafoods was keen to improve product storage methods between different systems to minimize production downtime. Previously, the company was faced with the time-consuming and costly process of transporting product from the production line to a freezer facility to prevent the product from thawing while on the production line.

Installing the tna roflo 3 vibratory motion distribution system with integrated controls was the perfect solution. Feeding into the tna robag 3ci, the distribution system helped to increase product throughput by providing an additional online storage facility. This is allows product to accumulate on the conveyor for up to 12 minutes, without the need for additional storage space. Previously, dwell time was as low as 2-3 minutes. The result is an increased “buffering” time, which allows for short, unplanned production outages.

Constructed from food-grade, stainless steel, the tna roflo 3 is also ideal for use in frozen food environments. Able to withstand the harsh cleaning agents and frequent high-pressure washdowns required when working with frozen food products, the conveyor can be easily cleaned to reduce product residue buildup and optimize hygiene levels. Similarly, the tna robag 3ci was customized with stainless-steel parts and a parabolic throat metal detector to ensure the highest possible safety standards.

Total project management from a single source

Working with just one supplier can make installation processes much simpler. tna implemented the additional packaging line within 5 months, providing Whitby Seafoods with the high-performance solutions they were looking for, while also delivering full integration with existing equipment.

A key consideration for the installation was that operations between the new and existing lines would be seamless. To achieve full integration, tna trialed how the new installation would work in the factory as part of the wider production process. As part of this process, the team carried out extensive 3D modelling to ensure the system was tailored to exact requirements. This also helped to ensure the system was up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible.

There are numerous benefits of having a single-source supplier. Not only does it save Whitby Seafoods time by simplifying the implementation process, but [also] ongoing customer service becomes much easier, as there is one point of contact for everything, such as spare parts, after-market support and warranty services. We have provided Whitby Seafoods with optimum line efficiency that goes above and beyond their key requirements,” Hill adds.