Bending Over Backward
By ELIZABETH FUHRMAN
Case packers and wrappers provide flexibility and
efficiency for processing demands
Case packers and wrappers are so flexible these days the machines could also
double as gymnasts. But flexibility isn’t the only skill these
machines must offer to meet the demands of beverage companies that are
manufacturing more products of different sizes than ever before.
Efficiency, increased processing speed, quick changeovers and
low-maintenance designs are all qualities that case packaging and wrapping
equipment need to provide.
Standard-Knapp, Portland, Conn., created Continuum
Integrated Tray/Shrink System for the beverage and food industries to
provide such qualities. Standard-Knapp’s tray/shrink system handles a
large diameter range, and is suitable for both loose containers and
multipacks in a variety of materials, including glass, PET, HDPE, metal and
fiber cans, HiCone, shrink bundles and paperboard overwrap. The products
can be packed into corrugated or chipboard trays for additional
flexibility. The system is offered in a free-standing or integrated
shrinkwrapper, as well as an integrated tray stacker option.
“It has tremendous flexibility to handle a
variety of different sizes, shapes and packaging types,” says Kris
Kolstad, Standard-Knapp’s vice president of marketing. “Coupled
with that, it also has a very short changeover time when you want to go
from one package type to another or one size to another. Flexibility in
packaging is so important today, with the proliferation of packaging types
and sizes, it really has fit a lot of companies’ needs.”
Operating at speeds up to 100 trays per minute,
Standard-Knapp’s system provides a smooth transition during the
product/tray merge. Additionally, the Continuum Integrated Tray/Shrink
System offers a quick, by-the-numbers changeover system with minimal change
parts that require no tools. The system also features touch-screen controls
and a push-button grouper changeover.
Servo-driven for increased precision and
repeatability, Standard-Knapp’s Continuum Integrated Tray/Shrink
System offers Zero-Gap in-feed technology for balanced, jam-resistant
packing lanes. Zero-Gap incorporates precise geometry and sensors to ensure
a continuous container supply to the downstream lanes and grouping section.
With these new technologies available on case packers
and wrappers, Standard-Knapp has zeroed in on a trend that has
progressively become more challenging during the past few years. With
additions such as servos and multifaceted controls, advanced technology has
allowed machines greater capabilities, but at the same time the
operator’s interface has also grown more complex and literacy rates
have not necessarily kept pace.
“We’re looking at fairly complex machinery
in terms of the tasks it must do, being controlled by operators who are not
engineers,” Kolstad says. “So what we’ve done is made our
machine interface, from the HMI operator’s interface push-button all
the way to things like changeover, maintenance and troubleshooting much
simpler and more ergonomic. When something does go wrong, it’s quite
obvious what it is and how to correct it, or when you are conducting a
changeover, it can be done in a very routine manner. When something does
require maintenance it’s not only obvious that it needs it but
it’s easy to do it.
“A change toward simplicity is something that
our industry will go through because we have these machines that we can do
great things and have all sorts of diagnostics, but they are not
necessarily designed intuitively.”
Specializing in end-of-line solutions for case packing
and palletizing needs, Schneider Packaging Equipment Co. Inc., Brewerton,
N.Y., offers a wide variety of automated gable-top case packing solutions,
including side-load, bottom-load and top-load machines. The machines’
size range includes half-pint, pint, quart, half-gallon, gallon and more.
Initially designed for the dairy and juice industries,
Schneider’s case packers for gable-top cartons are ideal for any
application where gable cartons are packaged into corrugate cases. These
case packers will pack half-gallon gable-top cartons into corrugated
containers at speeds up to 33 cases per minute, depending on pack pattern.
“Our customers are looking for
flexibility,” says Paul Burdick, Schneider Packaging
Equipment’s director of marketing and sales. “They want to have
the ability to accommodate future products, pack patterns and case
To meet the demands of improved throughput and
reliability, the high-speed horizontal case packer is designed for rapid,
repeatable changeovers from the three-pack convenience case to the four-,
six- and eight-pack case for half-gallon style cartons. Schneider also has
other machine designs to accommodate half-pint, pint-, quart- and
Schneider offers case packers that are operator
friendly, flexible and designed to handle the real world conditions of a
production environment, Burdick says. “Speeds up to 30 cases per
minute in our high-speed horizontal gable-top machine set the standard for
intermittent motion case packers. Our standards include a Rockwell
Automation Allen Bradley Logix platform controls system and two operator
HMI touchscreen control stations. Machines are available in stainless steel
wash-down construction with Nema 4x electricals or carbon steel painted
construction with Nema 12 electricals.”
All Schneider gable-top case packers and
Accumulator/Loaders for Gable-Top Cartons can be integrated with Schneider
Gable-Top Carton Lane Dividing and Transport Conveyors, and Robotic
Palletizers engineered for complete end-of-line automation.
“We are constantly working on improvements,
including using more servos for higher speeds,” Burdick says.
“We also are constantly reviewing and applying the latest advances in
technology, especially controls technology, to make sure that our machines
provide the best and most up-to-date solution possible.”
Speed and agility
For companies that face high volumes of pallet loads,
Lantech, Louisville, developed the RS-6000 20-second stretch-wrapping
system to provide a capacity of 180 to 200 loads per hour. The RS-6000
Ring-Straddle design introduced a film delivery system capable of wrapping
loads with 50-gauge film, pre-stretched 250 percent or more without film
breaks. According to Lantech, the new pre-stretch head and speed wrap get
film onto the load so quickly that almost all film recovery, term used for
the film trying to “un-stretch” itself, occurs on the load,
resulting in high containment force and reduced film use.
The RS-6000 automatic conveyorized stretch-wrapping
system enables OEMs to satisfy mass merchandisers who want more SKUs in
their warehouses, wider brand selection on their shelves and faster
turnover of smaller inventories.
“The new requirement from big retailers is
40-inch load height, not 70-inch, so the same volume of product has to ship
on twice as many pallets,” explains William Caudill, Lantech's
marketing manager for automatic stretchwrapping products, in a statement.
“Suppliers want to minimize floor space and capital equipment with a
single high-speed stretchwrapper that can match the 20-second cycle time of
today's fastest palletizers, and the RS-6000 has been developed for this
specific requirement.” He adds that all suppliers to the large
retailers are being affected, including beverage suppliers.
The RS-6000 Ring-Straddle stretchwrapper can wrap
loads up to 50-inch length by 50-inch width by 80-inch height. Starting and
ending the wrap cycle is a new cut-and-clamp system that combines a
heat-free Press ‘n Seal film sealing system.
“A cut/clamp/seal cycle takes 4 to 5 seconds
with a typical system, but this new patent-pending system gets it down to
about 1.5 seconds to reduce our total cycle time,” Caudill says.
Standard on the RS-6000 is Lantech's patented
Pallet-Grip system for locking a load to a pallet. Pallet-Grip attaches a
load to the pallet with bottom wraps of film twisted into a cable along the
lower 4 to 6 inches of the web. This tightly wound film cable is wrapped
with 50 percent higher wrap force as it is secured an inch or two below the
deck of the pallet, while the remaining film web stays above the deck and
secures the load. Pallet-Grip wrapping leaves the fork-truck through holes
open, ensuring that wrap force is never weakened.
The film delivery system can wrap the complete pallet
all the way to floor level without a load lift. It also allows loads to be
wrapped with as little as two pounds force.
“Light loads are a problem for an electrically
powered pre-stretch system because the load always has to pull on the film
to keep the system in dispensing mode. This machine can put a dust cover on
a pallet of uncased paper towels without deforming the load, twisting it,
or crushing product on the corners,” Caudill says.
According to Caudill, the RS-6000 breaks through a
sound barrier of sorts that has limited stretch-wrappers to a maximum speed
of 50 rpm. “Above 50 rpm, the forces on the machine structure spike
off the chart, but more importantly, the response time of an electrically
powered pre-stretch system cannot match the acceleration and deceleration
needed to go faster,” he explains. “The structural issues were
overcome with good mechanical engineering and finite element analysis.
However, the film delivery system required a new approach that mechanically
links film payout to the movement of the head on the support ring.”
A standard electrically powered film pre-stretch
system has to first sense a “demand” for film, then it
gradually ramps up output as it continues to sense “pull” on
the film, he explains. It also has to decelerate in a gradual way at the
end of the wrap cycle. “This lag in response time adds to the overall
cycle because the film delivery system needs one revolution to reach peak
output, and one revolution to decelerate,” Caudill says. “Our
new film delivery system has no ramp-up delay. It instantly pays out film
in direct proportion to its speed of movement on the ring. This allows it
to accelerate to 60 rpm from a dead stop without breaking the film. An
electronic system cannot do this.”
Flexibility, reliability and compactability also are
qualities being featured in packaging equipment. The Beverage Meridian
machine from R.A. Jones & Co. Inc., Covington, Ky., provides high
output and application adaptability for beverage can packaging with
standard features, including metric stainless steel design and left- or
right-hand configurations for can sizes from 8 to 16 ounces.
Beverage Meridian machines can be configured for
single-tier six- to 24-can packs. Dual pitch provides high pack speeds (up
to 210 packs per minute) at the low linear speeds, translating into half
the wear on components. The reduced linear speeds also permit pack and flap handling at much lower velocities and
accelerations for more precise control.
The electrical and
mechanical components were engineered for endurance with minimal cost for maintenance and repairs. To further enhance
operational efficiency, quick changeovers typically can be performed in 10 to 30 minutes. The compact frame fits numerous
applications, and ships in a single section to minimize installation time.
The machine’s guarding and controls are
ergonomically designed for operator convenience. Beverage Meridian machines
feature direct coupled servos and belt drives, providing automatic pitch
changes on the transport during size changeovers and smooth pick-off and
opening on the three-head rotary carton feed.
Returning to roots
Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, repackaged Michelob Lager,
Michelob Light, Michelob AmberBock and all of Anheuser-Busch’s
specialty beers under the Michelob family brand name in re-designed
embossed teardrop bottles based on the original package launched in 1961.
To support the new Michelob AmberBock bottle design,
Anheuser-Busch has partnered with Riedel Development USA to create a
custom-designed glass with an outward angled gold rim to complement the
complexity and taste of Michelob AmberBock.
A new Malibu
Pernod-Ricard announced Malibu coconut rum brand will
get a packaging makeover. The standard white Malibu bottle was the basis
for the packaging change, which now features a color-coded top for the
three flavor extensions. The company says the new package is the first of
many innovations the brand will have this year.
Graphic Packaging International, Marietta, Ga.,
developed a special paperboard basket carrier featuring 3-D holography to
create dramatic visual impact and enhance impulse sales for Miller Light
this past holiday season. The container, which held six 12-ounce glass
bottles, consisted of holographic film
laminated to Aqua-Kote board at GPI’s laminations plant in
Tuscaloosa, Ala., and then printed at the company’s facility in
Golden, Colo. The finished cartons were first shipped to the glass
manufacturing plant, where they were drop-packed with bottles. Then cartons
were shipped to the brewery, where the bottles were taken out of the
cartons, filled with beer, and replaced in the cartons.