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Final packaging and handling: automatic case packaging and bundling.

Final packaging and handling automatic case packing and bundling

Today, more than ever, the world is becoming one large marketplace. Competition is seen in everything made, sold or serviced. The need for automation is more prevalent now than ever before. Final packaging systems are often overlooked as the last area of possible automation. During the case packing, bundling and palletization operation, your company's product is at its most valuable stage in the manufacturing process. Manufacturers seldom consider past their primary package, as the sellable product. But truthfully, their commodity in the retail marketplace is the final packaged and palletized product. It is here that companies tend to invest the least amount in quality equipment.

When evaluating your end of line packaging needs there are a number of questions that appear. Do your present equipment, or future equipment purchases answer to these questions? What should and shouldn't your final packaging system offer? What can the package itself offer? What should the equipment manufacturer offer? What should be your input?

Final packaging and palletization are low on the list of automation these days, ..... why? Process control has been the key buzzword for automation experts for years now. Process control can relate to raw material handling, blending and batching, roasting, grinding, packaging and even final packaging. On a per cost basis, one pound of raw material is far less expensive than one pound of finished good, in fact the difference could be as much as one hundred fold. One could challenge the experts to find better Return On Investment (ROI) than in final packaging automation. Equipment selection for this portion of the manufacturing stage should be the most stringent. It is here, at the final link in the chain, that all product must pass. It is here that final consumable product can be broken, damaged, deformed or destroyed. Production can even be halted, if the downtime is excessive.

What type of features should be incorporated into the

final packaging system to help remove that nasty term,


Datum line design and mechanical operation is the basis of a reliable system. Cams, followers, and levers are the makings of a consistently functioning mechanical machine. Equipment should not rely on pneumatics as its operational backbone. Has the cost of a ft.[sup.3] (m.[sup.3]) of plant pressurized air ever been evaluated? Is plant pressurized air ever "clean" or "dry"?

Central lubrication - the key to the success of a mechanical system is a computer controlled central lubrication system. The delivery of lubrication should be consistent and dependable. It should be based on the number of cycles a machine performs, not how often a mechanic makes his rounds. It should be placed on all major frictional points, not the easiest ones to lubricate, or the ones that are remembered.

Accumulation systems - there are two schools of thought when it comes to accumulation systems: 1. Accumulators hide packaging problems that need to be solved. 2. Accumulators allow operation under real life conditions.

Like inventories and work-in-process, accumulators tend to mask problems. But, on the other hand, accumulators, with an accessory like a Data Acquisition System, allow a facility to maintain production under real life conditions. Bad case blanks, clogged hotmelt nozzles, or low tape rolls happen, they are a fact of life. What accumulators allow is that three-four minute time-out to regroup. clear your jam, clean your nozzle, or replace your tape roll. Furthermore, accumulators should be idle under normal production circumstances. When called upon they should function flawlessly, otherwise an accumulator will be necessary for your accumulator.

Accumulators give you the flexibility found in a rubber band. Data acquisition is what gives you the knowledge of what caused your downtime. Solving downtime problems during runtime is expensive; the solution is to gather information during runtime and solve the problems during off-time.

Quality assurance - your equipment should also offer a high quality product. The 1/10% of the time the product does not meet the requirements, the machine must acknowledge this and separate this product from the rest. It is accessories like full count control, flap integrity testing, and open flap detection that help to separate the sellable product from the non-sellable product. The product that will cause a jam downstream or make a dissatisfied customer must be removed and tabulated. Statistics show that for every one person that complains about a quality problem, there are another hundred people out there that experienced the same dissatisfaction but didn't bother to write or telephone this complaint. The bottom-line, lost revenue.

* Full count control is a means of assuring complete

cases. This accessory verifies, mechanically,

that all cases exiting the machine have proper

quantity of product in them.

* Flap integrity testing and open flap detection is

an operation performed by the packer to assure

high quality cases. Pressure is applied to the

sealed case, in an attempt to pop the flaps open.

A poorly sealed case will be detected here and

removed from the mainstream of output.

The case erecting mechanism should be highly reliable. It is working with a large case blank quality range. Corrugate could almost be considered a living material, with the variations in size, temperature, humidity, storage and operating conditions. Collating and stacking systems need to operate separately from the erecting system. Mouthpiece type mechanical guides are basics in packer design, to assure square erection of cases and proper transfer of product from the stacking station. A case blank magazine should contain sufficient storage capacity with an ergonomic loading position. In addition, the hotmelt system should offer sufficient capacity, that this is the only attention the line operator need to perform.

For the vacuum brick packs and other products with height variations, a pack height check and wrap-around case blank scoring device is beneficial. This mechanically operated accessory incorporated into the machine assists in assuring a tight shipper. guaranteeing a safe transport of finished goods.

One feature seldom discussed or observed in industry is a case squaring device. Many of today's packers with their continuous motion side belt drying sections, output unsquare cases. The consequences of these skewed cases is the resultant loss in pallet utilization, pallet hangover, and inevitable product damage.

What are some of the potential pitfalls of your final

packaging system?

Besides the obvious answer of down-time, there are others. Everyone complains about the cost of real estate, but can you think of more precious an area than that found in a plant? The need to maximize profits in the allocated area of a plant forces this. Engineers are constantly asked to install new packaging equipment in smaller areas. This is therefore causing some final packaging companies to maximize their design, to cause more to happen in a smaller space. This need to utilize space is evident in old plants as well as newly designed plants. Optimizing your resources will become the key to survival in the marketplace.

What features can the package itself offer?

The package must guarantee damage protection throughout the manufacturing and distribution of the product to the Point-Of-Sale (POS). This also means that the opening of shippers at the retail stores must be guaranteed tool fee. It must do this in an economical manner, and meet our growing environmental concern.

Maintenance of uniform packaging material (no material mix) would allow the recycling of these substances and help to solve many environmental issues. Whether tray, low/high board, wrap-around with display features, standard RSC, or kraft paper bundles are used depends on the distribution chain, and transport distances The existing possibilities should satisfy your product needs.

What should the packaging company offer?

There should be engineering, training, service, documentation, and accessible support. The engineering should be evident in the machine design itself! A training facility should be built for people such as operators, mechanics, and electricians who need an opportunity to know the equipment inside and out. This should be in a non-production and relaxed setting ..... no intercoms, no other machinery running. People need to be allowed a chance to become part of the machinery, to understand how it works in order to better troubleshoot it.

No manufacturing company should rely exclusively on the service engineers from the supplier to carry out minor repairs. The supplier should make sure that the customer's technical staff is trained to handle the majority of problems.

Documentation can never be too extensive; the payback in the long run is many times over. It should contain: subassembly breakdown drawings, complete part number identification, troubleshooting procedures, and should allow new technical staff to quickly familiarize themselves with the equipment.

Service and spare parts need to be in a position to respond. If not located in close proximity to your facility the need arises to be readily accessible. A

large hub or airport is necessary to ensure proper response to service calls. Ideally this should be complimented with a competent and complete spare parts inventory. The more accessible spare parts are (ie. smaller response time) the fewer your company has to stock, which translates into dollars not locked up in unproductive activities.

Finally, what should the purchaser bring to the party?

For us, this is very simple ..... a commitment. A commitment ..... to the project, to the equipment, to the training, preventive maintenance, and service. Equipment, like everything else, has limitations. By maintaining the equipment and conditions that surround the machinery, you are making a strong commitment to that equipment.

PHOTO : Automatic Case Packer with pivoting cassette for proper product orientation into erected case blank

PHOTO : Vacuum pack bags with wrap around shipper and tear strip for tool free breakdown and product display feature. Packed on a Case Packer with the height variation compensator.

PHOTO : Bundler wrapping coffee bricks in Kraft paper overwrap

PHOTO : Tray and Wrap Around Maechanical Case Packer with height checking and scoring device for vacuum bricks

PHOTO : Compact Mechanical Case Packer with Vertical Accumulator

PHOTO : Wrap around case for coffee cans

PHOTO : Tea bags in cartons run on Accumulators and Case Packers

PHOTO : Coffee bricks packed in Kraft paper

PHOTO : Modular display tray for 100 percent pallet utilization

PHOTO : Valve bags automatically casepacked into a RSC shipping container

PHOTO : Vertical Elevator/Lowerator to convey product from exit of Case Packer to Overhead Conveyor, in minimal square area

Alois Mathews is manager, General Packing, a Division of Focke & Co. in 2810 Verden/Aller, West Germany - Tel. # 494-231-8910 - Fax # 494-231-5061.

Darrell Gauthier is project manager of General Packing, a Division of Focke & Co. (USA) Inc. Greensboro, North Carolina - Tel. # (919) 449-7200 - Fax # (919) 449-5441.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:coffee packaging
Author:Mathews, Alois; Gauthier, Darrell
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Feb 1, 1990
Previous Article:Technology meets challenge of the 90's.
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