Inventors are always trying to develop something new in their niche and many times the new products evolve into something very different to what was originally intended.
In 1949, Bartelt Harold and Donald Bartelt developed a special machine to open, fill, close, and staple pre-made glued envelopes for electrical components. Almost immediately, this machine received national attention as one of the most innovative and labor-saving pieces of equipment in the packaging industry. Bartlet brothers soon realized this and came up with patents for HFFS machine and developed quite a few of the early generation HFFS machines.
The resulting public interest and inquiries prompted Bartelt to pursue the continual development of packaging machinery. By early 1960’s, their packaging machines to make, fill and close a flexible film pouch were gaining popularity. “Bartelt Intermittent Motion Packager” soon became one of the industry’s benchmark HFFS machine of its time. Soon, other companies started to manufacture similar machines.
Bartelt tried to enforce their hegemony and sued Pneumatic Scale Corporation Company for the “Kool-Aid” machines. Apparently, the machines made by the Canadian subsidiary of Pneumatic Scale Corporation had copied Bartelt patented designs. These machines were sold to “General Foods” in Chicago. Pneumatic Scale Corporation successfully defended their technology and no infringement of Bartelt patents was proved in the court of law. Many similar machines started to appear after that. Few of the early movers were Kawashima, Volpack, Bossar, Fuji, Campbell Wrapper etc. Bartelt became part of “Klockner Bartelt” and was eventually acquired by KHS.
HFFS (Horizontal Form Fill Seal) machines usually cover two slightly different stream of machines.
1 HFFS pouch machines, in these product is fed via gravity.
2 HFFS Flow wrappers, in these machines product is conveyed positively into the pack and therefore the position and speed can be controlled much more accurately.
Many times, thermoforming machines are also termed within the HFFS category. We will discuss these separately some other time.
In all these machines, the flow of the film is horizontal and various types of pouches, sachets and packs can be made on these machines. Usually, the type of product, type of packaging and speed requirement determine the type of machine used.
Leading suppliers of HFFS pouch type machines are concentrated in Barcelona-Spain (Effytec, Mespack, Bossar, Acma-Volpack) and the leading Flow Wrapper machine manufacturers are scattered in USA and Europe (Bradman Lake, Campbell Wrapper Corporation, Bosch, Ulma Packaging, PFM Packaging Machinery, Imanpack, Ilapak, Ixapack etc.).
The leadership position in this industry sector is changing, the products are becoming similar and the cost & service deliverables are becoming the distinguishing factors. We think one can remain attuned to the industry development by becoming more involved, so we are doing our bit…..
What do you think as to where we are heading in this industry sector? Which HFFS machines have you used and what is your experience regarding those? We would love to hear your take on it. Please share your opinion.
Tips for selecting HFFS machines:
- Always remember Simpler is better!
- Reliability and performance metrics Speed, wastages, uptime, quality of final packs, change over time, available options, capability to handle different materials, labour savings, skill availability and capability requirement to run and maintain the machine, ease of cleaning, flexibility to handle different sizes, types of packs etc.
- Quality & Sanitary Requirements Clean room, aseptic filling
- Total Cost of Ownership Initial cost, after sales service & support costs, repair and downtime costs, utility & consumable costs, spare parts & response time from manufacturer / supplier
- Integration with upstream & downstream equipment
- Know your product and pack sizes and make sure that the machine is able to cater for all your products.
- Type of final bag: Pillow, gusseted, stand up pouches, zipper / re-sealable bags, bags with spouts, different shaped bags, available options and integration of additional options at a later time.
- Multiple function machines, technology trends like ultrasonic sealing, better sealing technologies, advance servo technology, PackML compatibility, better diagnostic features, remote service support etc.
- Design requirements basis country OR company / industry standards requirement
- References, brand name, inter-personal rapport.
- Space constrain, lead time, costs, constrains and other limitations.
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