In 2003, IFP approached Ceetak Ltd, a UK company specialising in sealing systems and rubber products and asked them to develop a sealing technology which would guarantee hermetic seals. The base of the system which they developed uses a patented impulse jaw designed to heat and cool rapidly. Additional patented features have been combined to produce a viable commercial system
Two years were spent evaluating a number of sealing concepts which led to the selection of an impulse based technology. Prototype sealing systems were tested in the laboratory with very promising results but further funding was required to commercialise the technology.
In 2005 IFP were awarded government funding from WRAP ( Waste and Resources Action Programme) which provided the money to develop commercial units for testing in the production environment. Support from Marks & Spencer was also provided and a number of their suppliers.
The technology was first used in the fresh leafy salad market and was successful until it was found that the technology did not like the cold wet environment of high care Produce packing plants. This problem has now been overcome and the latest generation of Integrity Seal™ systems has now been proven capable of producing many millions of bags under production conditions.
McCain’s Foods (GB) Ltd expressed interest in the system in 2008 and invested in a trial unit for extensive production testing. After 18 months of operation on different machines within two of their UK factories they have decided to convert all their bagging machines in the UK. See the case study.
Also in 2008 Greenvale AP purchased a system for packing whole potatoes for Tesco and have been successfully operating it for over 18months, again producing many millions of bags. A second Tesco supplier, Branston Limited also purchased a system in April 2009 for packing whole potatoes and that too is running successfully.
Whilst the initial Integrity Seal™ development focus has been the fresh produce and frozen foods categories, Integrity Seal™ can be applied to any other product that is heat sealed in flexible packaging material on automatic and even hand sealing machines. The same system which works on vertical form-fill-seal machines will work on horizontal linear motion flow wrapping machines. It is also possible to develop the system for use on rotary flow wrapping machines by the simple addition of rotating manifolds to feed the chilled water.
The potential for other products is considerable:-
- Snack products
- Dairy products such as cheese
- Fresh meat and cured meats
- Satchet packed products - condiment.
- DIY Products
- Toiletries and soaps
- Detergents and household products
In essence any product would benefit from Integrity Seal™ that goes in a flexible pack and which is heat sealed.