The largest private label coffee roasting company in North America is upgrading its degassing process for flexible packaged coffee with a new degassing valve that contributes to product freshness, eliminates a step in the packaging process and is helping to generate savings and increased efficiencies during its first two stages of implementation.
The company is Mississauga-based Mother Parkers Tea and Coffee, whose passion for innovation has helped make the family-owned business the coffee supplier of choice to some of the world’s largest retailers and food service providers. Indeed, the motto that underscores the company’s logo—“A Better Beverage Experience”—is derived from a history of innovation that now spans over a century.
Recently, a drive to improve the packaging process at Mother Parkers’ sprawling Fort Worth, Texas manufacturing plant led to the testing and adoption of the Avery Dennison Flexis® Coffee Pre-oiled valve, one of the most significant degassing valve innovations in the coffee industry in the past decade.
“We found through our internal testing that the valve was less prone to failure than our existing flexible valves,” says Kelly Harber, the plant’s Maintenance/Manufacturing Projects Manager.
The testing was a six-month process that evaluated the new valve against the plant’s existing flexible and heat seal-applied hard button valves. Tests covered O2 resistance, extended shelf life performance, adhesion, and dispensability.
The tests were conducted on Accraply valve applicator systems equipped with an Avery Dennison ALS 204 dispensing head. The Flexis valve performed with little to no failures or leakage. In addition to running faster and degassing with greater efficiency than the existing degassing valves, the pre-oiled Flexis valves also made for a cleaner running and more efficient packaging operation.
“The pre-oiled feature eliminates a step in the packaging operation,” Harber explains. ”The previous flexible valves required us to apply oil during the valve application process. This entailed keeping inventory of oil and keeping our equipment calibrated for dispensing the correct amount onto an exact valve location. The Flexis valve is pre-oiled with food-grade silicone oil when it is manufactured. “Plus, the pre-oiled valve makes for a cleaner running applicator and production environment because there’s no need for online oil application.”
The Flexis Coffee Pre-oiled Valve
“According to Bill Hartman, the Avery Dennison business development manager who worked with Harber on the conversion to Flexis, valve degassing has been an overlooked efficiency opportunity. “Innovative businesses like Mother Parkers are now capitalizing on a relatively simple process improvement. The new valve offers freshness, packaging and cost efficiency advantages compared to other types of valves. It’s also often a preferred alternative to bin degassing, which involves a major capital outlay and can take 8-24 hours or longer to complete, tying up inventory and robbing the coffee of freshness.”
“The one-way valve permits us to package straight into a bag,” adds Harber. “If you don’t have a valve, the coffee will degas and the bags will balloon. One-way valves contribute to freshness by letting gas out and not letting oxygen in. All coffee valves are one-way, but some perform better than others.”
The new Flexis valve has a tri-layered construction that allows the escape of CO2 while inhibiting the entry of O2. As packaged beans degas CO2 pressure builds and then enters and escapes through the top baffle layer. Once degassing is complete, the valve re-seals to prevent oxygen from re-entering the coffee package. The construction generally keeps residual oxygen at two percent or less, a figure that equals industry standards.
Mother Parkers’ previous valve packaging speed was 55 valves per minute with the old flexible valves and 45 valves per minute with hard button valves.
“Stage one of our conversion to Flexis involved ramping up on the new Accraply machines,” Harber says. “The transition, once testing and qualification runs where certified, only took a day. The implementation
of stage two went seamlessly as well.”
Flexis Coffee valves can be applied using Accraply labeling systems at speeds more than 30% faster than heat seal-applied hard button degassing valves. That capability of throughput means fresher coffee and higher order fill rates for their customers.