Automated packaging solution helps pastry manufacturer increases throughput
Nicholas Vaccaro, President of Vaccaro’s Desserts, is no stranger to Italian tradition.
His Sicilian born great-grandfather moved to downtown Washington, D.C., where he started their family specialty foods business in 1906. Having passed through four generations of Vaccaros, the company has succeeded for 100 years and is currently run by Nicholas and his wife Tanya, at its location in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Vaccaro’s Desserts still uses original family recipes and is now a major wholesale supplier of tiramisu and cannolis to food distributors in 17 states. Restaurant owners purchasing Vaccaro’s products receive packaged cannoli shells and a separate cream filling to freshly make the desserts at their restaurants. Delivering quality and freshness are essential to a specialty foods business - so Vaccaro’s sought a technologically-advanced packaging solution to replace its dated semi-automatic process.
Previously, Vaccaro’s had packaged its products by hand, which proved to be time consuming and less efficient than necessary for this growing business. The process required an operator to manually stack unwrapped trays of cannoli shells into cardboard boxes, with only a layer of coated chipboard dividing the trays. This type of open packaging exposed the shells to air, moisture and other elements, which could result in decreased product quality and taste, and limit the ability to ship to distant locations.
In 2004, Vaccaro’s decided to implement a more automated packaging process and purchased a Stratus™ Horizontal Flow Wrapper from Doboy Inc., a Bosch Packaging Technology company. After seeing demonstrations from two other packaging companies, Vaccaro’s decided on Doboy after watching its equipment in use by another food manufacturer. “The Doboy machine was clearly the most sophisticated in terms of features and functionality and also the easiest to use,” Nicholas Vaccaro said.
Vaccaro’s uses its new Stratus Wrapper to package trays of cannoli shells with a sealed laminate film, without damaging the delicate pastries. An infeed conveyor handles the trays, each containing six shells, with stainless steel product guides that are FDA-approved for sanitary requirements. Driven by a servomotor, the Stratus surrounds each tray with laminate film and feeds it to the heated end crimp and cut-off. This includes a heating mechanism that heats the laminate film and then seals it with a crimp press. The film is then neatly cut and the packaged trays are carried away by the discharge conveyor.
Impressed with the Stratus Wrapper, Vaccaro’s looked to add a second piece of equipment the following year and, in 2005, a Doboy CBS-D continuous band sealer was added to increase packaging rates for bags of the cannoli cream filling.
In its previous process, Vaccaro’s had used a hand-fed heat sealer that required an operator to manually insert the open end of a bag, pull a handle to press down the heated bar and then wait for the release indicator. “The process was a bottleneck to the rest of the line,” Nicholas Vaccaro commented. “It required an experienced operator, so as to not overwhelm the machine.” Quality assurance checks were also essential to ensure the bags were properly sealed.
The new CBS-D sealer features a 15-inch heated bar that presses the plastic bags with an airtight seal. Digital temperature controls allow an operator to adjust the thermally isolated heating and cooling bars to best suite the application. In addition, the CBS-D eliminates any worries about leaky seals and embosses the bags with both a production code and the Vaccaro’s logo.
Both pieces of Doboy equipment have allowed Vaccaro’s to dramatically increase its packaging rates. The high-speed Stratus Wrapper packages 75 trays of cannoli shells every minute and the CBS-D seals bags of cream “as fast as we can load them, allowing us to keep production up,” as Nicholas Vaccaro stated. “We are very pleased with the machine quality, functionality and ease of use.”
Vaccaro’s is currently expanding its facility to include a new production area and a doubling of warehouse space. A move to implement even more automated processes is also planned, as Vaccaro’s continues to find success and growth.
With seven straight record years of sales for Vaccaro’s Desserts and sales growing at double-digit rates, the company anticipates expanding sales to additional nationwide distributors in the next few years.
“Doboy has allowed us to dramatically increase our throughput,” Nicholas Vaccaro concluded. “The equipment has allowed us to extend our products’ useful shelf lives while maintaining consistent taste, which is critical in a specialty foods business such as ours. The quality and taste of our products are what set us apart from other generic desserts. I believe we’ve made an excellent choice for our packaging equipment needs that will both serve us now and grow with us for the future.”