Officials at Appeeling Fruit Inc. knew they were going to pick up the pace in their packing facility when they installed a band sealer — they just didn’t know how much they needed the new machine when they bought it.
With a contract to supply sliced apples to Burger King’s Northeast region set to kick in June 1, Ryan Gebely said the faster line is absolutely necessary for the Daubervile, Pa., company.
The company already supplies private-label products to the Wegmans grocery chain.
“We just finished signing all the documents and will be doing 2-ounce packages for Burger King beginning June 1,” said Gebely, director of sales and marketing.
Gebely said Appeeling Fruit was already feeling production pressure when it bought a band sealer — a Doboy B-550 — from BaggingGuys, York, Pa., about a year ago. The company’s business had outgrown its packing capacity and the new band sealer promised to speed up the line and reduce downtime.
“One of the main differences is the ease of cleaning and changing bands and other parts,” Gebely said. “It’s got a self tracker, and that saves time too.”
The old band sealer on Appeeling Fruit’s pack line frequently needed new heating elements and bands, which required time-consuming maintenance involving removing multiple parts to make the replacements.
With the new machine, replacing a band is as simple as releasing the tension on it, slipping it off and slipping on a new band.
Gebely said there has been almost no downtime on the line since the new equipment was installed.
“It self-aligns and there aren’t any bolts or parts to remove. We’re back up and running in a matter of a few minutes,” Gebely said.
Employees also had to manually date stamp each bag before the new band sealer was installed. The new Doboy unit has an integrated Markem date coder that eliminated the need for hand stamping, further speeding production.
Appeeling Fruit has been in the fresh-cut apple business since 1998.
The company expanded its facility in 2009 to about 23,000 square feet. It has about 160 employees and runs two shifts seven days a week. The company processes about 40,000 pounds of apples per day.