Wrap It Up
Speed and versatility are paramount to getting the job done efficiently
Case packaging and wrapping equipment are among the final pit stops for beverages before they depart the manufacturing facility. And just as processing speed, flexibility and efficiency are top goals for each piece of equipment in a beverage processing line, so too are they the key components of case packaging and wrapping machines.  
“Speed has certainly been a huge driver in today’s marketplace,” says Kris Kolstad, vice president of marketing and sales at Standard-Knapp, Portland, Conn. “Every bottler is trying to get ‘more out the door’ with the same number of people and same number of lines, rather than adding new plants.”
But Kolstad emphasizes that speed is only one component of success, especially when it comes to “measurable efficiency.”
“Speed is important but it’s directly coupled with reliability and efficiency,” he says. “There’s been a huge focus in recent years on setting goals and measuring line efficiencies. An industry rule of thumb is that line components must perform at 98 percent or better in order for bottlers to get total line efficiencies above 85 percent. If you’re only running at 60 percent, you’re not getting the cases out the door.”
Flexibility in manufacturing also continues to be a big focus, especially for beverage companies that regularly produce multiple SKUs. “For example,” Kolstad explains, “Coca-Cola might have had had just three different container sizes 20 years ago. Today, Coke is into bottled water, sports drinks and other beverages in addition to their soft drinks so they require equipment that can run more than one type.
“Case packaging equipment needs to be adjustable to flexibly accommodate that variety as well quick, nimble changeovers — quick and nimble meaning that once it is changed over, the machine runs without further adjustments,” he adds.
But one of the biggest buzzwords when it comes to case packers and wrappers is robustness. “Equipment robustness is important because as material variations occur, the machine must still run efficiently,” he says. “It also needs to be robust in the sense that it must accommodate operators of various skills and literacy levels, especially for somebody whose primary language isn’t English. You need a user-friendly interface — one of the biggest challenges continues to be the ‘people part.’ Skill sets and literacy rates vary from plant to plant, region to region.”
In addition to the aforementioned components of in-demand case packers and wrappers, Jeff Williams, director of business and planning, R.A. Jones & Co. Inc., Covington, Ky., adds that other top attributes include equipment that comes with reliability and efficiency guarantees, ergonomic features, a small footprint, minimal changeover time and repeatability.  
New packing equipment
A variety of new beverage packing equipment has hit the market recently. Among the new options is the Beverage Meridian multi-packer machine from R.A. Jones, which created the system to provide high output and application adaptability for beverage can packaging. The unit’s standard features include metric stainless steel design, left- or right-hand configurations and can sizes from 8 to 16 ounces.
Beverage Meridian machines can be configured for single-tier six- to 24-can packs. Dual pitch provides the highest possible pack speeds (up to 210 packs per minute), at the lowest possible 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 longevity with minimal cost for maintenance and repairs. To further enhance operational efficiency, quick changeovers can be performed, typically in 10 to 30 minutes.
Standard 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.
Schneider Packaging Equipment Co., Brewerton, N.Y., manufactures versatile packing solutions for gable-top cartons. According to Paul Burdick, the company’s director of sales and marketing, the gable-top packer is designed to accept the output of any of the current fillers on the market. “The packer also will deliver output in three-, four-, six- or eight-packs, all of which are required at various times by our customers in the juice and dairy industries,” he says.
Currently installed in juice and dairy facilities, the gable-top case packers can be designed as a horizontal, or a top- or bottom-load vertical case packer, and packs half-gallon gable-top cartons into corrugated containers at speeds up to 33 cases per minute (cpm), depending on pack pattern.
To meet the demands of improved throughput and 24/7 reliability, the high-speed horizontal case packer is designed for repeatable, rapid changeovers from three-pack convenience cases to four-, six- and eight-pack case for half-gallon style cartons. Schneider also offers other machine designs to accommodate half-pint, pint, quart and gallon-sized cartons. Features include, Allen Bradley Logix controls, a multiple case size magazine, touchscreen operation and diagnostics.
The Packmore from Standard-Knapp is a high-speed continuous-motion case packager offering precise servo product grouping, soft placement of bottles into the case and automated changeover. Low maintenance and high reliability are achieved through the positive, continuous operation from the infeed through placement of bottles into the case.
The Pakmore includes features such as a pressure-less zero-gap infeed, the flexibility of an inline or peninsula layout, and positive packing action that places the bottles in the bottom of the case. Other features include smart and quick fault recovery systems and robust construction designed for facilities that operate on 24/7 production shifts.
New wrappers roundup
Launched last August, the Wraptor multi-wrap machine from R.A. Jones is the latest addition to the company’s family of paperboard multipack/wrap solutions. Wraptor machines can be configured for single-tier wrap of one to six packs and double-tier wrap of two to 12 packs with many product/container types — round, oval, square, rectangular and irregular.
The unit’s standard features include metric design, left- or right-hand configurations and speeds up to 250 packs per minute. A standard static locking closure eliminates the need for glue, although a glue or combination glue/lock is optional. The Wraptor can handle cans, bottles (glass or plastic), cups, bowls and tubs. To further enhance cost economies and application flexibility, the Wraptor is engineered to efficiently run a broad spectrum of materials, including economical commodity board.
The unit also offers operational efficiencies for customers. Changeovers can be performed in as little as five minutes, in many cases with no tools required. The space-efficient design minimizes floor space, while aiding installation and application versatility. Lubrication-free chains complement stainless construction in the “clean machine” design. Guarding and controls are ergonomically designed for operator convenience. Standard Wraptor machines feature Allen-Bradley Compact controls and Panelview touchscreen HMI. A standard electrical platform provides cost-effective application in U.S., European and other world markets.
Polypack Inc., Tampa Bay, Fla., offers two wrapping solutions for the beverage segment: the ILB24L-P and the Cha Cha Cha Shrink Bundler. The ILB24L-P is described as a versatile shrink-wrap solution for multipacks that bundles/wraps any configuration of bottles, boxes and odd shaped articles. The unit’s no transfer wrapping also allows unstable product multipacks to be produced. In a single lane configuration, the unit boasts production speeds up to 50 wraps per minute. In a double lane configuration, the unit can complete up to 100 wraps per minute.
Polypack’s Cha Cha Cha print registered shrink bundler is touted as one of the most affordable shrink bundlers capable of running print registered film. The compact unit uses either single or double rolls of film (clear or print registered) with film repetitions up to 40 inches in length and provides the versatility to run a wide range of products. The Cha Cha Cha’s small footprint is complemented by electro-mechanical motions and is controlled by three-phase motors and inverters or by servos. No air or vacuum is required for operation.
With a compact stainless steel design, the versatile Cha Cha Cha processes 60 bundles per minutes with no seal bar and a user-friendly color touchscreen. BI
Canned heat
Self-heating can puts the “ahh” in latte
Imagine enjoying a hot latte or cocoa without having to trek to the local coffee shop. That’s just what OnTech Delaware Inc., San Diego, Calif., had in mind when it developed a perfectly portable self-heating can designed to accommodate the fast-paced lifestyles of commuters, mobile professionals and sports and recreation enthusiasts who might not have access to conventional heating sources.
After eleven years of development, OnTech’s self-heating can debuted last March. In December, the company introduced a new product line of self-heating beverages under the “Hillside” label, which includes four lattes (Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Mocha and Double Shot), two hot cocoas (Chocolate and Chocolate Marshmallow), two tea lattes (Chai Tea Latte and Green Tea Latte) and three soup items. Hillside lattes began shipping late last year to test markets in the Northeast, and the soups, hot cocoas and teas will begin shipping this month. According to Rick Bauman, senior vice president, sales and marketing at OnTech, more than 20 self heating beverage SKUs will available by April.
“We have had great response from retailers and consumers in the Northeast,” Bauman says. “Our initial Hillside latte sales are very strong and we are finding that awareness is crucial to success due to the unique attributes of the self-heating technology. Our launch campaign sums it up in ‘It Does What?’ as this is a first-of-its-kind consumer product. Thus, educating the consumer is the key to success.”
Can construction
 The OnTech self-heating container is built from two main parts: the container and the actuating “puck.” The container comprises an inner cone that holds calcium oxide (quicklime), and the outer container body, which holds the beverage product. The puck holds water and is sealed by a foil membrane.
The container is heated when the consumer pushes a button on the bottom of the container, breaking an inner seal that allows water to pass into the heating cone where it mixes with calcium oxide. Once these materials combine, an exothermic reaction occurs and the heating process begins. Approximately six to eight minutes after activating the container, a thermal ink spot indicates when the product is ready for consumption.
The container heats beverages to approximately 145º F for a minimum of 20 minutes and keeps the beverage warm for up to an hour.
The body of the container is a special six-layer construction made from a combination of several FDA-approved, foodgrade plastics chosen for their optimal heat transfer and insulation properties. With the exception of its metal lid and foil seal, the entire container is made from blowmolded and injection-molded plastic.
At its peak temperature, the self-heating container is designed to be more comfortable to the touch than an ordinary metal can. And according to the company, the beverage remains hot longer than if heated by another means (stove, microwave, etc.) because the exothermic reaction continues to heat the beverage.
The OnTech container is primarily composed of polypropylene (PP) and was designed to meet guidelines required for recyclability. The container has been awarded the Grune Punkt (The Green Point) which acknowledges that the container has been approved for utilization in the strict European recycling and waste system. BI