Baking it big: Ilapak stars in Devonvale success story

Baking it big: Ilapak stars in Devonvale success story

Ilapak Packaging Machinery (UK) - ILAPAK has supported Devonvale Bakery throughout its journey from start-up to a multi-million pound business, specifying reliable and future-proof flow wrapping solutions that have enabled the cake & cereal bar producer to match capacity with demand. The latest investment has seen Devonvale more than double its line speed by making the step up from manual cutting and feeding to a seamless automated workflow with ILAPAK’s modular Carrera 1000 at its core.

Keith Upham, managing director of Devonvale Bakery, says: “Flow wrappers can be rather temperamental. They like consistency, which is what this automated solution has provided. Thanks to the new flow wrapper and automated infeed and cutting systems, our packaging operation is far more efficient, the quality and appearance of the packaged product is much improved and our staff are benefitting from a more pleasant and less stressful working environment.”

Devonvale Bakery purchased its first ILAPAK flow wrapper, which was the entry level Carrera 500, in 2004, to wrap its hand baked flapjacks, cakes, shortbreads and other traybakes into individual portions.

“We were a start-up at the time, just a quarter of our current size, and we bought the machine to grow into – which we have done,” recalls Keith.

With increasing demand, in 2012 Devonvale purchased its second ILAPAK flow wrapper, a Smart machine (the successor to the Carrera 500), doubling the capacity at its bakery, set in the heart of East Devon.

In the six years that have followed, Devonvale has gone from strength to strength, building a nationwide presence with wholesale distributors supplying vending companies, retailers and food service. A large proportion of Devonvale’s business is producing for other companies brands, where its USP is its ability to produce with flexibility. Its tasty sweet snacks are sold under various guises, so you may be enjoying a Devonvale treat bought from many a national business in their own brand, or equally from a convenience store, college or university.

Whilst the two flow wrappers were mechanically capable of up to 60ppm, Devonvale wasn’t able to get close to these speeds due to the limitations imposed by the manual elements of the process. Trays were removed from the oven, turned out and cut into squares by hand. An operator then fed the squares through the flow wrapper, and they were manually packed into boxes afterwards. Speed wasn’t the only issue with this – unless the portions were completely uniform and presented squarely to the flow wrapper, there was the risk of them getting caught in the infeed and causing downtime.

In 2017, continued growth once again prompted Devonvale to review its packaging operation, this time the company took the decision to fully automate.

Working with several third party suppliers, ILAPAK managed a turnkey project to install a packaging line incorporating cutting, flow wrapping, labelling and coding.

“We could have bought a third flow wrapper, but we could see that line efficiency was always going to be limited by the speed at which operators could feed those machines. It was at this point that we asked ILAPAK to come up with a solution. They recommended an ultrasonic cutter in conjunction with a system of conveyors feeding a high speed flow wrapper. This was the going to be the solution to the production bottleneck we were experiencing and we decided to proceed” says Keith.

At the heart of the installation is ILAPAK’s Carrera 1000, a mid-range machine that offers the same modularity, build quality and IP65-rated hygienic construction as the top-of-the-range Carrera 6000. The Carrera 1000’s modular design was ideal for this project, as it meant Devonvale could customise its machine and add modules at a later date. For example, ILAPAK supplied the flow wrapper with a high speed twin jaw configuration, future-proofing Devonvale’s packaging operation up to speeds of 250ppm.

A smart-belt infeed that automatically pitches the squares as they come off the removal station adds to the efficient operation of the flow wrapper.

“Essentially this is a series of belts that uses sensors to ensure the product is presented to the flow wrapper in the correct position and uniformly spaced,” explains Nick Ghent, HFFS product manager at ILAPAK.

In line with ILAPAK’s long term partnership approach and commitment to supporting customers as their business needs change, Devonvale was able to trade in one of the original flow wrappers against the new Carrera 1000.

With the new line up and running at speeds of 100-150ppm, Devonvale is delighted with the transformation of its packaging operation.

“We now have one flow wrapper doing a job that used to require two machines and it is doing it far more efficiently. The Carrera 1000 does exactly what we wanted it do and has done from day one,” says Keith.

Image 1 Caption:

At the heart of the installation is ILAPAK’s Carrera 1000, with excellent build quality and IP65-rated hygienic construction.

Image 2 Caption:

Devonvale treats are stocked by the mutilples and at conveience stores, colleges and universities.

Image 3 Caption:

ILAPAK supplied the flow wrapper with a high speed twin jaw configuration, future-proofing Devonvale’s packaging operation up to speeds of 250ppm.

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