Prestage Foods, a division of Prestage Farms, is a 260,000-square-foot turkey-processing facility and distribution center in St. Pauls, N.C., that supplies supermarkets along the East Coast with fresh and frozen hen turkeys. In 2005, the plant began supplying retail customers with display-ready packages of fresh and frozen turkey legs, thighs, wings and necks. Demand for the turkey parts increased steadily over the years.

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Visit this link to view a video of the Prestage Foods packaging line that Ossid helped improve:

At the line’s pre-automation peak, 12 to 14 company associates placed turkey parts in bags that were then shrink-sealed. The sealing process was slow and prone to poor-quality seals, which meant the parts needed to be repackaged and productivity was lost. Furthermore, the process produced numerous wasted bags.

“We came to the point where demand was outstripping our ability to serve customer needs,” said Darron Ezzell, general manager of the St. Pauls plant. “Plus, our goals are to reduce overall waste and improve quality. The bagging process simply was no longer sustainable.”

Ezzell and Barry Tyner, maintenance manager, visited other poultry producers to gauge current best practices in turkey parts packaging. They saw machines manufactured by Ossid, powered by Pro Mach, in action and were intrigued by the equipment, sales and service, and certified training possibilities offered by the company.

Upfront training, testing prove vital

After discussions with Ossid, Ezzell and his team specified a 500E leak resistant overwrapper, which is rated at speeds of up to 60 trays per minute and capable of reducing film usage. The 500E applies pre-printed shrink film to the case-ready trays already packed with product.

Operators and maintenance personnel from Prestage Foods received training on the new machine at Ossid’s headquarters in Rocky Mount, N.C. During training, the 500E ran Prestage Foods trays and turkey parts, which were transported in coolers. Ossid personnel used the packaging to fine-tune the machine, and they also programmed the 500E to adjust film placement for various package configurations to ensure fast product changeover.

Upon completion of the project, Prestage Foods doubled the output of fresh and frozen turkey parts at the plant. Furthermore, overall material waste has fallen below five percent — a significant improvement — and the smooth, neatly sealed trays produced by the 500E give the products a quality, premium appearance. Output on the line is twice the rate compared to bagging, and there is still room to increase the number of packages wrapped per minute.

“One of the things we are most proud of is how well everyone worked together on this project, from our associates who took on new responsibilities to the Ossid technical team working with us, to guarantee a smooth startup,” said Ezzell. “All of it ensured that our retail customers are well-served.”