LAS VEGAS — Sections editor Dan Galbraith gathered the following news items at the Las Vegas Convention Center while covering the Pack Expo convention on Sept. 26-28.

Accu-Seal

Grower-shippers of commodities such as cherries have long complained about the lack of user-friendly machinery for bagging their product.

San Marcos, Calif.-based Accu-Seal has addressed those concerns with its HDMP3 Series Vacuum Sealer, said Lesley Jensen, general manager.

“It’s the next generation of our vacuum sealers, with a wide jaw opening to make it easier to accommodate things like cherry bags,” Jensen said of the sealer, introduced in late 2010 and promoted at Pack Expo.

“And it has five seal modes to address some of the issues people like our Chilean cherry people had been having.”

The sealer is billed as a heavy-duty machine, and its 4-inch-wide jaw opening fast-tracks production by allowing operators to more easily position packages.

Seal modes include: gas flush, selectable upper and lower heat and optional preset recipes.

The machine also offers the flexibility to handle materials from 20 inches to 60 inches wide.

CHEP

Orlando, Fla.-based CHEP has partnered with Livonia, Mich.-based Container and Pooling Solutions to enhance its suite of returnable container products.

“Our partnerships with CAPS and IFCO allow us to offer our customers better solutions and a broader range of products and services across the industry,” said Derek Hannum, marketing director for CHEP.

Clear Lam

Expect Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based Clear Lam Packaging Inc. to make a big splash at the Produce Marketing Association convention Oct. 14-17 in Atlanta.

That’s when the company plans to launch peel-and-reseal packaging technology for fresh produce that allows Clear Lam to combine thermoform bases with flexible film, eliminating the need for lidding while keeping the “fresh” in fresh-cut products as long as possible, said Jim Foster, marketing manager.

“One customer is just now starting to use this, and I can’t say much about it because it’s just launching at PMA, but it’s going to be a nice product,” Foster said.

IFCO

IFCO Systems NA, which now joins CHEP under the Brambles Co. umbrella, used Pack Expo to debut reusable plastic containers for berries and bananas.

IFCO’s 6408N RPC for fresh berries features an innovative lift-lock latching system that speeds opening and closing, as well as a unique rim structure to improve stacking profile and increase interior height, said Gina Lester, marketing coordinator for the Houston company.

The berry RPC helps add shelf life via quick pre-cooling and optimizes temperature management during transport from farm to store. It also claims to provide greater protection than similar products.

The company’s 6421 Caja de Oro banana RPC, is designed to provide better ventilation, cooling and temperature management, as well as reduce shrink and labor.

In a 2010 trial, IFCO reported 6421 drew rave reviews from produce managers, 85% of whom said they preferred it over a corrugated box, 75% reported time savings and 80% said it was easier to handle than a corrugated box.

International Paper

Convenient, waist-high load height in an agriculture packaging machine is almost unheard of, but Waterloo, Ontario-based International Paper has achieved it with an improved version of its existing line, said Jeremy Green, mechanical packaging operations manager.

“This machine has half the transportation cost of our previous version and a much smaller footprint,” he said. “It can run 14 different design cartons by just changing forming kits, and it’s a very ergonomic-friendly design with lots of safety features.”

The machine, built in Irvine, Calif., came out earlier this year.

Kwik Lok

Yakima, Wash.-based Kwik Lok Corp. plans to introduce by December a new printer to go on Kwik Lok machines for enhanced traceability of fresh produce, said Larry Leonard, regional sales manager.

“These new printers have cartridges instead of pouches for ink and are a lot more user-friendly,” Leonard said. “They’ll be able to print 2D bar codes on the locks themselves for all kinds of produce.”

Kwik Lok is working with a partner on the new printers.

Printpack

Printpack Inc.’s steaming valve microwaveable packaging for Green Giant Fresh vegetables was selected as a Pack Expo Selects finalist, and the company has just launched an easy-open peelable Freshgard package as well, said Sarah Blackmon, corporate marketing manager for the Atlanta company.

Freshgard offers a broad range of modified-atmosphere packaging with film and microperforation technology, and it’s available in lidstock, rollstock and premade bags.

The product is specially designed to extend shelf-life and limit contamination.

Prolamina

Terrebonne, Quebec-based Prolamina introduced a microwaveable potato bag design that uses new technology to spread heat throughout the bag, said Jim Forster, product development manager.

“We’re just launching this today and will be shipping our first trial materials soon,” he said Sept. 26.

The bag is so new, Forster said, that he didn’t have a sample of it at the company’s expo booth.

“We’re basically just beta-site-testing it right now, but the way this bag distributes the heat through the venting of steam is unique.”

Thermo Scientific

Released in July, the Thermo Scientific Xpert X-Ray Inspection System can help fresh produce companies avoid recalls with its advanced technology, said Aaron Craig, marketing communications manager for the Minneapolis company.

Features include low X-ray power, remote monitoring for quick problem determination, minimal false rejects, a protected large touchscreen for ease of washdown and durability, and air blast and pusher rejections options.

Optional upgrades allow users to customize their systems to fit individual needs.

TNA

Coppell, Texas-based TNA is shifting its focus to the U.S. and is already working with carrot giant Grimmway Farms on conveying scales and portable bagging, said Paul Veldhuis, Lynwood, Wash.-based regional sales manager for TNA North America Inc.

Veldhuis said Grimmway Farms began using TNA products in 2010.

Urschel Laboratories

Pack Expo show floor busySmall- to mid-sized processors have a new fresh fruit and vegetable slicing option, courtesy of Valparaiso, Ind.-based Urschel Laboratories Inc.

The E TranSlicer features stainless steel materials, a newly designed cutting wheel retention assembly allowing easy changeovers and user-friendly cleaning features, said regional manager David Nichols.

“This product has access panels for sanitary reasons, making it very easy to wash down,” Nichols said.

Through a variety of slicing and trademarked Microslice wheels, the machine can provide flat and crinkle slices as well as julienne cuts, oval shreds and julienne strips.

The machine is specially designed to cut mushrooms, leeks, cabbage, carrots, celery, peppers, asparagus, zucchini, onions and lettuce.