Packaging Automation’s Trial Facility at their factory in Knutsford, Cheshire offers customers the opportunity to carry out tests using different packaging materials with their product incorporating MAP, SkinPAC, Map F to verify the results prior to investment in machinery.

Simon Wilson, Seal Technologist in the Test Kitchen guides customers through the development of new packaging concepts including selecting environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic packaging and can help them access PA’s vast database of packaging suppliers giving them the benefit of our wealth of experience and giving advice and guidance along the way.

“Shelf ready pack concepts can be produced to validate pack integrity and for performance trials such as shelf life and transit trials as well as tests to help customers choose the best option to optimise the seal, reduce processing time and achieve maximum outputs,” explains Simon.

“For customers who are new to heat seal technology or those customers looking for more environmentally friendly packaging options it gives them the ability to try before they buy but also to trial and test different options to understand how the material impacts their product and ultimately to find the best solutions for them. For customers looking to change tray suppliers or introduce new products lines, the PA Test Kitchen gives them the opportunity to check the fit in existing tooling and test the seal, undoubtedly saving them time and money by avoiding wastage and minimising interruption to production.”

The PA Test Kitchen works with some of the major retailers, both directly and via their producers, helping them find, test and trial more environmentally friendly packaging solutions.

“Generally speaking, PA have seen a move towards the use of mono materials and more environmental and recyclable options. In particular in Holland, we have seen a move to reduce plastic packaging,” explains Sam Ashton, Commercial Director at PA.

“As a mature market, key concerns from the soft fruit sector include seasonal products changeover, managing the packing line and downtime. The PA Revolution range offers a highly efficient packaging solution. To minimise downtime, these machines also offer quick and easy set up and tool changes reducing lost time during punnet size changeovers.”

PAs high speed, fully electric tray sealers incorporate patented motion control technology which means that the in-feed of the pack is always smooth and stable reducing fruit movement in the trays with a seamless transfer prior to seal.

PAs packaging options include the ability to interchange pulp punnets with plastic punnets on the same sealing tool and reduce cost to run eco packaging on the same machine/line as plastic.

“Through the work Simon has carried out with all the key packaging suppliers, we can now accommodate a variety of punnets from different suppliers in the same tooling, this includes pulp trays in a tool designed to seal plastic punnets.  Obviously, this significantly reduces the cost to the packer if they are changing between plastic and pulp and sourcing packaging from a variety of suppliers from one season to the next.

“We continue to trial lots of different and new emerging materials in the Test Kitchen. Pulp trays, for example, can be sealed 4/5 times unlike plastic trays (in the requirement to repack product on the line) and of course appeal to those looking to reduce plastic use.

“More interesting packaging materials that are being developed and tested in the Trial Facility are: seaweed, organic and pulp. All of these are bio compostable and biodegradable but now need testing for different products.”


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