To be the world's greenest, most innovative and most successful sugar beet processor, that is the Suiker Unie mission. They developed a new production line for powdered sugar at their speciality plant in Puttershoek several years ago. This was done in parallel with an investigation to package the sugar in synthetic bags instead of paper ones. After much testing, the AROVAC technology from Arodo appeared to be the best solution for vacuum packaging in plastic bags.
A first packaging line
Besides granulated sugar in any required granule size, Suiker Unie offers a full range of dry and liquid sugar specialities. This is both in bulk and individually packaged, for B2B and retail/food service. Under the guidance of parent company Cosun, Suiker Unie excels in extracting maximum value from all components of the sugar beet in an optimal and sustainable manner. It has already been doing this for decades, as the company’s roots go back to the start of the 20th century. Today Suiker Unie has more than five sites and a specialised distribution centre.
Arodo first served Suiker Unie in 2011. We built and supplied a packaging line for packaging castor sugar. This is finely ground white sugar with the addition of invert sugar and optionally caramel for a brown colour. We installed a bag filling machine and two palletisers. One palletiser was for stacking the bags of castor sugar, and one for stacking bags of standard powdered sugar in paper valve bags. Cooperation had started.
Vacuum packaging powdered sugar in synthetic bags
A new opportunity had emerged. “We wanted to develop an extra product at our specialities plant in Puttershoek”, explains Leen Boekee, Sr. Project Supervisor Technology & Projects. “It was powdered sugar, and we wanted to package it in synthetic bags to be able to assure quality. Our packaging technologist went in search of a supplier with a fitting solution.”
Many were looked at, including Arodo. Suiker Unie did not want any openings in bags and we advised the use of vacuum sealing to seal the bags. Initial testing did not go perfectly (lump formation), but after a long test phase, changes to the installation and a shared visit to a cement plant where a similar technique was in use, Suiker Unie clearly saw the added value.
Pioneering with AROVAC and synthetic bags in food
n 2017, we installed an AROVAC packaging line for vacuum packaging of powdered sugar in synthetic bags. Developing a custom packaging line for a food company was a particular challenge. The design of the installation looked completely different to that at a cement company, for example. It is in full compliance with hygiene (EHEDG) directives applicable to the food sector, and sits alongside the existing production machines for sugar in paper bags. The components to be cleaned are easily accessible, the valves are neatly concealed in the cabinet, while the operator has full access to the technical part.
Such a bag filling machine with lay flat tube, Arovac bag vacuuming technology and lateral removal is unique in the food industry. Just like the procedure of air-tight and waterproof packaging of sugar in synthetic bags. Implementation took place in phases, with continuous optimisation of the packaging process.
“Arodo is a good, high quality supplier”, concludes Leen. “The team carries on until the design specifications have been fully achieved. We are clearly enjoying the benefits of AROVAC packaging technology. The end product now consists of simply stackable and easy to transport synthetic bags, in practically rectangular blocks. The nicest of all is that thanks to AROVAC the powdered sugar arrives safely anywhere in the world and has a longer shelf life.”