(Sept. 12) LANGLEY, British Columbia — When Katatheon Farms Inc. decided to start its own cucumber packing operation in July, an unexpected problem arose.

“Our product mix is different than just one box,” said president Tom Reinhart. “We have multiple box sizes, i.e., 24, 18 or 12 cucumbers in a box.”

A traditional packing system for various sizes would have required three sealers and three conveyor belts, which would have cost the company time and money.

Reinhart said his company had been dealing with packaging machinery manufacturer IPak Machinery Ltd., Delta, for quite some time and had purchased a couple of carton formers from them. Reinhart said he went to IPak’s engineers with his problem.

“I enjoy taking a challenge and giving it to some smart folks and watching what they do with it,” he said. “These guys built the machine to take care of our requirements.”

Reinhart said the challenge was to come up with a sealer that could automatically adjust itself to various sizes of boxes passing along the conveyor belt.

“That’s what we have now,” he said. “It automatically adjusts for different size boxes. All of these things historically have been done by screwdrivers and wrenches, but it’s all just a program now.”

IPak presented a layout that included a cucumber sorting machine, along with a sealing/wrapping machine, from Nootdorp, Netherlands-based manufacturer Aweta BV.

The company added to that its own newly designed tray former, which assembles a one-piece carton with a tear-away front flap for display purposes. The company also added its own flange sealer to the system, which automatically adjusts to width and height changes.

The result was one carton sealer for three different lines. As the cartons on one line are sealed, the other two lines accumulate cartons. Then the sealer moves on a shuttle between the three lines.

The system also comes with the Ascentia Carton Coding System from G&S Software Ltd. The coding system was attached to the sealer to print information including size, grade, grower identification and pack date onto the carton for traceback capabilities.

For more information, call IPak at (604) 940-8073 or visit www.ipakmachinery.com.