Packaging Story

Achieving an excellent vacuum seal doesn’t have to drive you nuts.

In August of 1937, Jim Hamilton was born to one of the first California families to farm the fertile land of the San Joaquin Valley. No one knew he would grow up to become one of the top leaders in the walnut and pecan industries. Jim started farming his family’s 50 acres of prunes and walnuts with his father after high school and in time built his own walnut shaker, bought his first 5-ton walnut dehydrator, and designed and patented an innovative pecan continuous shuttle dryer.

Jim and the team at Hamilton Ranches were hardly beginners when it came to farm equipment. But when they had a piece of custom, vacuum sealing equipment built to order, they couldn’t figure out why it underperformed. The shelf life of nuts can be extended considerably by packaging the product in vacuum-sealed bags. But the seal has to be perfect or air will soon re-enter the bag. In he presence of air, the products will begin to oxidize and quality will decline. Try as they might, no modification to the machine resulted in dependable vacuum seals. Its true – pecan trees may live and bear edible fruit for more than 300 years. But for the Hamilton’s, there was no time to waste. They needed to find a better vacuum sealer.

From time to time, the Hamilton’s would attend the Pack Expo trade show in Las Vegas to see what was new in the packaging industry. Now they were on a mission to solve a specific problem. At the show, they learned about a vacuum bag sealer from PAC Machinery. The machine was called the Packaging Aids PVK Bag-in-box. Essentially, the Packaging Aids PVK Bag-in-box Vacuum Sealer enables the user to start with an outer corrugated box, which would be lined with an oxygen-blocking barrier bag. This inner bag would be filled with nuts, vacuumed and sealed. With the optional gas purge feature, the bag could be flushed with nitrogen to further extend shelf life. The box could then be closed, stacked and handled very easily. But what made the PVK different from the rig they had custom built? The Packaging Aids PVK Bag-in-box featured a bag stretcher. The bag stretcher uses thin fingers that are positioned inside the mouth of the bag and automatically extend outward at the beginning of the seal cycle. This action would pull the seal area tight and smooth, thus eliminating even the smallest, vacuum-defeating wrinkles in the seal. Problem solved. “I just wish we met the Hamilton’s sooner”, commented Larry Warren, PAC Machinery Regional Sales Manager. “We were very familiar with the issues Hamilton was experiencing and knew exactly how to mitigate the problem. We could have saved them the time, expense and frustration of developing a piece of custom equipment that never really worked properly”.

Today, Jim, and sons Chris, Jerry and Dave Hamilton are charged with carrying on the Hamilton family tradition. With the bag-sealing challenge solved, the men have one less problem driving them nuts

Hamilton Ranches relies on their PVK Bag-in-box Vacuum Sealer for use at their renowned pecan processing facility in Visalia, Calif

“We were able to both boost production and reduce cost. The vacuum sealer payed for itself in about three months... Absolutely incredible.”

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