Atlapac’s servo-based stand-up pouch machine from Modern Manufacturing Services helps it to meet the fast-moving consumer packaged goods world.

Atlapac holds the title of major player in the flexible packaging segment as a toll converter and contract manufacturer, producing packaging for multiple sales channels, including c-stores, gas stations and club stores. The company also delivers a wide range of flexible packaging formats for major consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, with impactful stand-up pouch designs and straightforward flexible packaging bags for high- and low-volume runs. 

As stock keeping units (SKUs) from CPG companies have increased tenfold over the last 15 years, Atlapac’s packaging operation has grown in parallel to meet the many new consumer packaging demands. 

“Atlapac is very efficient with our toll converting operations and customers know we have a high aptitude when it comes to sophisticated stand-up packaging,” says Paul Unrue, president of Atlapac. There are many reasons why the toll (converting) side of our business has grown over the last 15 to 20 years.” 

As Atlapac had grown over the last 20 years, the company decided in 2018 that it needed a stand-up pouching solution. That year, Atlapac added Modern Manufacturing Services’ 610 Momentum Series stand-up pouching machine to add more operational flexibility, throughput and meet increased demand from CPG companies with recycled film material for pouches.

“With increased use of sustainable films by companies, the 610 stand-up pouch machine opened up new opportunities for us to run different structures and materials,” says Unrue. “Plus, the machine allows us to set up quickly and minimize scrap.” 

The stand-up pouch machine features servo technology with multiple sealing heads and provides another level of control, according to Atlapac. The standard 610 Momentum Series machine includes 10 sets of servo motors for the Inteliseal system and a minimum of three sets of servo motors on the web feed, which are independently controlled. This servo-based system eliminates many mechanical parts while eliminating lower cams on the machine. 

“We’re up to a minimum of 13 axes of servos per pouch line,” says Jim Russell, president of Modern Manufacturing Services. The servos provide independent control on all of the sealing processes.” The overall machine control is done by a programmable-logic control (PLC) and also allows Atlapac to store recipes for quick changeover. 

“The machine has an intuitive design and we can recall recipes quickly,” says Unrue. “Our operators can see stored settings for dwell times and this helps with product changeovers.” 

This is important due to the ever-changing supply and demand of certain CPG products, and shorter runs. 

“We may have a break of eight months with a specific film product (to run again), and the stand-up pouch machine, along with its control system, allows us quick setup,” says Unrue. 

The machine can run a variety of stand-up packaging formats, including three-side seal with zipper, stand-up doyen seal, shaped pouches and many more. Besides quick setup, the machine can produce approximately 80,000 to 250,000 stand-up pouches in a day at Atlapac, with 200 packages per minute (PPM) for certain types of structures while the official rating on this machine is 220 ppm. 

“Good pouches in a box is really what matters, and packages per minute is definitely part of our success,” says Unrue. “However, it’s also imperative that the pouches stack in an orderly fashion after coming out of the machine.” 

Film Structures and Modernization

Speaking of structures, the machine can run a variety of supported (PET/LDPE) and non-supported films such as co-extruded low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) standard and a variety of other common flexible packaging films. 

Atlapac can also quickly validate a new film structure request from a large converter. “With so many CPGs embracing sustainability, converters need quick confirmation on new film structures and laminates. So they look to us and the machine’s servo independent controls helps us quickly test new film properties,” says Unrue. 

Atlapac is SQF (Safe Quality Food) certified, and has multiple food safety measures, including document control, quality control, good manufacturing practices, management audits/monthly audits, chemical control and more. 

Following the lead of these programs, the stand-up pouch machine provides added benefits to Atlapac with its ability to export all production data to the company’s proprietary information management system. Machine data includes number of impressions, number of impressions out, first- and second-shift metrics, and make readies for changeover time, according to Atlapac. 

However, the true value of the machine is giving independent control over the sealing process and being able to vary cycle, distance and depth of impressions on each individual sealing head, enabling the ability to offer shorter runs and the capability to run more variety of pouch films, according to Atlapac. 

“The absolute control of the pouch machine allows Atlapac to say ‘yes’ to new jobs with new film properties, including sustainable films, and have the aptitude to minimize scrap and maximize yield,” says Unrue. This capital addition is just another reason for Atlapac’s success and growing toll converting business over the last 20 years.