Rejected goods have always been an issue for the food industry around the world. They not only have a negative impact on sales, they generate additional recycling costs and affect ecological balance sheets. FuTech Solution’s unpacking machine ‘Skinner’ solves this problem by mechanically removing faulty products/packaging from their packaging. This allows for fully automated production of reworks so that companies can work more efficiently and more sustainably.

March 2021: No packaging machines are error-free, an agonizing issue for the American food manufacturing industry. All production processes include a certain percentage of broken goods that are not suitable for sale; for instance if packaging is no longer airtight. Research has indicated that between 1% to 5% of goods are rejects, resulting in additional processing costs. Even though the product can be used for reworks, recovery of faulty goods is a time-consuming process. In particular the repeated removal of packaging, a procedure that, until now, could only be done manually. This is where FuTech Solution, operating in Europe, comes in. “Our vertical solution allows for environmentally-friendly and profitable recovery of broken goods. Around the world, large amounts of faulty foodstuffs and their packaging are simply discarded every year. We would instead like to establish closed loop recycling management in which nothing is thrown away”, explains Co-Founder  Lukas Neckhaim. Especially in light of ever more stringent sustainability requirements for the food industry, companies see broken goods as a burgeoning problem. The unpacking machine ‘Skinner’, developed by FuTech Solution, now provides a solution.

The missing link to automation of rework processes

The Skinner lays the foundation for automated production of reworks by mechanically removing packaging from broken goods. Faulty products rejected by the production process are directly carried to the Skinner via assembly line connection. The machine uses rollers to unwrap the broken product and then separates it from its packaging and transports each to different boxes via conveyor belt. Detectors can then, for instance, check the foodstuffs for packaging residue before it is crushed mechanically and reused in the production process. The Skinner thus fully automates the rework process so that food manufacturers can take a significant step toward recycling management.

Proven economic efficiency

The Skinner is ideally used with packaged foodstuffs weighing between 2 and 250 grams. According to FuTech Solution, it doesn’t matter what is being unpacked. With just a bit of fine tuning, the Skinner can be adjusted to the products of different manufacturers. The machine currently works at a cycle time of below three seconds; more than 20 faulty products per minute can thus be stripped of their packaging and reused in the production process. The Skinner closes a major gap in foodstuff manufacturing. A study on its economic profitability demonstrated a ROI after less than one year of use. For European candy manufacturer Manner it was only four months. Efficiency and sustainability certainly can be combined.

From Europe to America

After successful projects in Europe, FuTech Solution has now set its sights on the USA. Co-Founder Lukas Neckhaim has been managing its activities from Indiana, where he studied at the University of Notre Dame. “We are happy to make our machine available for demonstration and have it tested on site”, he said in a recent interview. Both Neckhaims are eagerly looking to the future to making a sustainable improvement to the American food industry.

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