Food Safety Magazine

Signature Series | November 12, 2013

How Do You Pack a Pickled Pepper without Too Many Peter Pipers?

By Julia Mann

How Do You Pack a Pickled Pepper without Too Many Peter Pipers?

Hausbeck Pickle Company has been producing pickles and pickled products for almost 90 years. Although the company started out as from a small-town pickle producer, it grew into one of the largest suppliers for fast food chains in North America, servicing fast food giants such as Subway, Burger King and Sonic. Today, their product line includes a variety of pickles, pickle spears, pickle chips, banana peppers and jalapeños, all packaged in large plastic pouches.

The Plan
Hausbeck Pickle Co. aimed to reduce recalls and losses resulting from faulty seals in plastic pouches. Their challenges were four-fold:

• Check seals on plastic pickle packages

• Eliminate bubbles and creases in seal

• Eliminate food particles in seal

• Ensure water-tight and air-tight seals

Their products include whole dill pickles, pickle spears & chips, pickle relish, banana peppers and pickled jalapeños.
Their packages consisted of rectangular, thermoformed trays, with dimensions of 190 mm × 280 mm × 127 mm/7.48 in × 11.02 in × 5.0 in and both sides of the tray are made of soft, transparent plastic, processed at 60–80 packages per minute.

If successful, they could guarantee the quality of packaging seals, improve troubleshooting success rates, reduce leaks and improve customer satisfaction.

As a family-owned company with a long history of supplying some of the nation’s largest fast food companies, and with production in such large quantities and shipping over such long distances, they were having trouble ensuring the quality of their products. Pickles and peppers would contaminate the seal area, which would lead to busted pouches and rotten boxes. Their customers were beginning to complain. It was clear that Hausbeck needed a seal inspection solution that maintained their competitive advantage over other pickle and pepper producers. After trying repeatedly to devise their own inspection system, they turned elsewhere to find their answer.

The Solution
At first, Hausbeck Pickle Co. contracted an outside engineering firm to create an inspection system from the ground up.  However, Luceo Inspection Systems was able to provide Hausbeck with a solution that was perfectly tailored to their needs but did not have the costs of a one-off approach. “We decided on a system with one camera that inspected the bags as they moved along the packaging line,” said Tim Hausbeck. “In the past, we were really let down by other inspection system manufacturers. So, I was very impressed that Luceo was willing to stand behind its product from the very beginning.”

Hausbeck chose the ThermoSecure-T model from Luceo for one of their production lines. Tim could not have been more pleased with Luceo: “I feel your machine did everything they said it would and maybe even more.” In fact, after the benefits of the ThermoSecure-T became apparent, Hausbeck ordered a second unit.

The Results
After the installation of Luceo’s system, the number of faulty seals caused by product in the sealing area fell by 50 percent in the first three months alone. And thanks to close and readily available support through Luceo’s new North American team, Tim is confident that they can reduce leakers by 99 percent compared to the previous year. Hausbeck also reports that thanks to Luceo’s optical inspection system, they are able to make packaging improvements that they had not even considered earlier. According to Tim, “Luceo’s system helps us put out a more finished product. The system will flag small, cosmetic problems that we had never even seen. Because we will then inspect the area where the cosmetic problems are showing up, the system helps us earlier identify problems that might be greater down the road.”

Julia Mann is sales manager, North America, for Luceo Inspection Worldwide. She can be reached at 516.383.3678 or j.mann@luceo-inspection.com.