Packaged perfection

Tray sealers manufactured by Proseal uk Ltd are intelligent pieces of equipment that help to deliver a complete packaging solution to customers within the food industry

In 2018, tray sealing specialist Proseal uk Ltd (Proseal) marked its 20th anniversary in some style by picking up a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of International Trade. The company received this particular honour in recognition of its outstanding continuous growth over the last six years, during which time is has effectively doubled its turnover between 2016 and 2018 alone.

Based in Adlington, Cheshire, Proseal designs and manufactures high quality automatic tray sealing machines, conveyor systems, and sealing tools for the food industry and other applications. Offering its customers a complete packaging solution, the company produces an extensive range of manual, semi-automatic and fully-automatic machines with throughputs from six to 240 packs per minute. In addition, all tray sealing machines are capable of modified atmosphere packaging. With subsidiary businesses in the United States and Australia, and a growing network of global distributors, with company employs around 400 worldwide and its machines boast a presence on every continent except Antarctica!

With some 500 new machines completed each year, this makes us a significant player on the world stage,” explains Tony Burgess, Proseal’s Head of Sales and Control Systems. “Tray sealing itself has several different connotations, and our machines cover three fundamental areas. These are atmospheric sealing, which you typically see deployed in the packaging of fruit such as strawberries, gas flushing, where we place a different atmospheric cocktail where applicable inside a food tray, for example, in order to extend a product’s shelf life, and skin packing, where you see things like steaks tightly wrapped in film providing significant improvements in shelf life extension. We have a total of 22 different machine types in our portfolio, and each platform is capable of being configured during the latter stages of manufacture to accommodate the aforementioned sealing formats, or indeed once it has been installed.”

Speaking for only a few minutes with Tony, it immediately becomes clear that he and the rest of the Proseal team genuinely care deeply about the performance of their machines, and that they meet the task that is required of them, not just on day one but in year ten or 15. “We are a very engineering-led company made up of people that take great pride in their work,” he states. “Our business management system is incredibly detailed, to the point where I could tell you about a particular part that was first replaced on a machine some 20 years ago.

“We have always known that looking after our customers is the best thing we can do in order to have the best platform upon which to grow. As such, we have worked incredibly hard over the years to ensure that our reputation for service excellence, speed of response and quality is maintained. This includes investing heavily in our service teams, and in product development and innovation, and giving our customers the knowledge that even if they bought a machine from us ten years or more ago, we will be able to retrofit and refurbish it with the latest technological advances.”

With its machines being 100 per cent manufactured in the UK, Proseal is playing its part in upholding the country’s international reputation for engineering excellence. “For us, quality and speed of response is absolutely vital in all that we do,” Tony says. “If we need to make a part quickly for a customer we know that we can turn to one of our 40-plus CNC machinists and within a matter of hours we can have this completed and ready to be fixed to the machine in question. Having this in-house capability is hugely important as it means we have control over our own destiny, as it were.”

In addition to its reputation for manufacturing expertise, the UK also leads the way globally when it comes to tackling issues surrounding food packaging, specifically those relating to reducing the use of plastic, adopting alternative materials, and aiding in the lowering of food spoilage volumes. Tony and the Proseal team understand, however, that there is a fine line that has to be negotiated between reducing plastic usage, whilst also maintaining the shelf life of packaged produce so as to avoid an increase in waste. As such, the company continues to leverage its 20-year history to make important advances in sustainability. At the same time, in the last five years it has also greatly reduced its own machine’s energy consumption levels by some 92 per cent. This capability can also be retrofitted to all existing machines sold by the company.

Turning to the performance of the business in the first few months of 2019, and Tony is naturally excited to state that the first month of 2019 has been a real kick start to the year. So, what exactly does he put this down to? As it turns out, there are several possible factors behind it. “First and foremost, as the world gets more and more aware, and concerned, about the issue of food spoilage, the busier we will clearly become,” he says. “In 1960, there were three billion people on the planet, and in 2019 there are more than 7.6 billion, so there is an ever-more urgent need to increase food production and decrease spoilage.

“In order to publicise our own efforts to tackle this challenge, we appeared at a number of important trade shows towards the tail-end of 2018, including a large event in the United States dedicated to the produce sector. Here, we were able to demonstrate how we can help to reduce the local market’s plastic consumption by around 42 per cent – almost overnight – and this proved extremely popular.”

Last year’s hard work continues to reap its benefits, with sales increasing year-on-year in February 2019. As for what the rest of the year, and beyond, holds for Proseal, Tony has a strong idea of what the company needs to do to remain on an upward projector. “The focus of 2019 revolves around stability,” he adds. “We have to make sure that we are not only producing more machines, but doing so whilst maintaining the high level of quality we have become well known for. One way of ensuring this will be to continue to increase our service staff levels.

“Meanwhile, in the longer-term, we recognise that the global food packaging market will continue going through a period of transition. Proseal wants to be at the forefront of this, leveraging its expertise, experience and skills to properly educate new and existing markets of the benefits of its machines, while helping to deliver the equipment businesses need in order to achieve their own future food packaging requirements.”

Proseal uk Ltd
Products: Tray sealing machines