Canada’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable processor takes pride in its quality assurance efforts to bring only nature’s best to the table
Currently running a total of eight production lines, the Mississauga plant is looking at adding another line or two before the end of the year, says Karr.
“Six of our lines are bagging lines and the other two are tray-sealing lines,” says Karr, citing two Hayssen lines runs between 40- and 60-bpm (bags per minute); three Matrix Packaging Machinery lines running at 40- to 50-bpm; a generic spring mix line of fresh-cut veggies; a tomato tray line; and a dual apple packaging lines running at speeds of 60- to 80-bpm.
All of the pre-printed bags used on the bagging lines are supplied by the Toronto-based Lynnpak Packaging Ltd., according to Karr.
“Four of our bagging lines utilize a nitrogen gas-flush when required, with the balance of the lines using MAP (modified-atmosphere packaging) lidding and plastic film to help extend the shelf-life of the products,” he notes.
While each of the lines is different to some extent, Karr is quite proud of the equipment installed on the plant’s Line No. 1, which he calls “one of the most technologically advanced lines in our business.”
Along with the plant’s Line No. 2, this high-performance line is dedicated to processing all of the lettuce products handled at the facility.
Before it enters the production line, raw product is inspected for quality and then loaded into a crate dumping system that tips the product onto a trimming conveyor system manufactured by the Hamilton, Ont.-based Hager Industries Inc.
“Once the product has been trimmed and cored, it is inspected again before being sent along a conveying system to be cut to the customer’s specifications,” states Karr.
After passing through an Urschel Translicer, the pre-cut product enters the Model 450 automated inspection system manufactured by Raytec Vision S.p.A., which thoroughly checks the product for foreign materials and any defects in color and density.
The product then passes into a Turatti three-stage wash system, becoming progressively cleaner with each station.
After the product is fed into automated spin dryers to remove excessive moisture, it is conveyed to the actual packaging line, where it passes through state-of-the-art chilling tunnels to maintain optimal temperature before moving up and into one of five Ishida weighscales (Pride Pak also has a Yamato weigh scale)—before being packed by a Hayssen Ultima horizontal form-fill-seal (F/F/S) bagger.
After bagging, all product is inspected by a Fortress Technology Phantom metal detection unit, checked for seal quality and weight accuracy, and then packed in corrugated cartons for storage in the company’s refrigerated storage area to await same-day shipment.
Other key systems and materials employed at Pride Pak include:
- eight Domino thermal-transfer printers to apply the time and date of production, as well as the best-before dates;
- various 3M and custom-built automated carton tape-sealing machines;
- high-performance rollstock bag film supplied by Haremar Plastics and JG Packaging;
- corrugated cartons manufactured and supplied by the Norampac division of Cascades Inc.
“You could ask anyone involved in the produce industry, and they would all tell you that it can be a very stressful business,” reflects Karr, “but it is also a very, very fulfilling business.
“I can tell you without a shred of doubt that I love providing people with high-quality produce and that I have a lot of fun doing it,” he sums up. “We take pride in our work, and we are proud of the quality and safety of the products we produce.
“Pride Pak is not just our name: it’s also our philosophy.”