When it comes to the infant formula category, product safety is paramount and physical contact with the powder during milk preparation should be limited whenever possible. Such concerns led one of the world’s leading infant formula manufacturers to develop a new, sealed compartment for scoops; they later tasked JBT with developing a system capable of mass production in a safe, efficient manner.
The solution was a new version of JBT’s high-speed SeamTec Seamer, especially adapted to handle infant formula cans with DDE (Deep Drawn End); an innovation that allows the scoop to be inserted separately from the powder. But how did the project come about and how was the JBT solution developed?
“Normally when you have infant nutrition in cans, what happens is the scoop is inserted into the powder,” says Bart Mertens, JBT’s Product Line Director for Filling and Closing Equipment. “And sometimes the scoop gets completely covered by powder, so that as a parent you almost have to take a ‘dive’ into the powder to find the scoop, which of course can contaminate the product.
“The idea of this project was, how to insert the scoop into the top of the can where you have the tear-off, so it can be easily taken out and you can put it into the powder without contaminating it with your fingers.”
Several years ago the customer introduced this type of can and closure for their high value infant formula powder, with the DDE enabling the scoop to be kept completely separate from the product itself.
The advantage, explains Mertens, is that users no longer need to go digging into the powder to find the scoop, increasing hygiene and user comfort in the process. After gathering servings of powder, the scoop is no longer placed back into the powder – as was previously the case – but rather is kept separate in its own compartment, while the can is closed off with a plastic lid.
JBT’s part in the story began when it was asked by the customer to develop a seamer capable of closing this kind of end on an infant formula can. The solution devised by JBT was redesigning and adapting sections of the successful SeamTec Seamer to be able to handle the DDE, and in particular reworking the system’s chuck and knock-out shaft.
“We had to develop our machine so that it can handle much higher can ends to be able to position the scoops,” says Mertens. “The upshot is that the scoop is no longer in contact with the powder: there’s a seal between the scoop and the powder.”
Covering speeds from 50 to 600 cans per minute, the SeamTec Seamer is designed with the highest sanitary standards specifically for highly sensitive, high value powdered products, such as infant formula, beverage powders and nutraceuticals. As such, the SeamTec features no exposed lubricants, stopping lifters to avoid powder spillage and an optional foreign-particle prevention system.
The SeamTec Seamer also has significant benefits from a sustainability perspective, which are equally present in the latest version. The system’s high-speed performance means a greater volume of cans can be sealed over a shorter period of time, while the Seamer eliminates rotation while cans are still open to ensure no powder spillage takes place before closing.
For any profitable business, keeping downtime to an absolute minimum is vital, which is why JBT now offers its PRoCARE preventative maintenance with the SeamTec Seamer. Remote, real-time support and scheduled visits from JBT technicians will ensure the seamer is maintained in an optimum condition, thus avoiding unexpected stoppages and keeping production running.