Case Study: Automation Upgrade
by Rick Lingle, Editor in ChiefTo see this article in digital form, Click Here and see page 32.
Materials- and labor-saving secondary packaging system at Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery reduces production time and material requirements.
One system, two rooms, multiple benefits. A Spot-Pak® secondary packaging system from Delkor Systems at Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery and Green Valley Organics, Sebastopol, CA, is helping the operations turn a shade or two “greener” through significant materials savings.
Started up in fall 2010, the installation comprises an integrated system of a Spot-Pak machine in one room and a shrink film bundler and heat tunnel in an adjacent room connected by a through-the-wall conveyor. Filled bottles on a corrugated pad would be difficult if not impossible to keep upright at high speeds and on two 90-degree conveyor turns, but Spot-Pak serves to secure the 32-ounce bottles in the machine-to-machine, room-to-room transfer.
Downstream of a filler-capper, bottles enter the Spot-Pak machine’s infeed in single file and are then cross-pushed in groups of three singly into three lanes for grouping. Two rows of these three bottles are picked up by overhead vacuum cups that carry them to a parallel conveyor on the Spot-Pak machine where the pads are supplied. The bottles are placed onto the 7 x 10-inch corrugated pads, which are fed in intermittent motion and pre-sprayed with a spot adhesive.
On pads, the bottles are conveyed through a 90-degree rounded turn and through a wall to another 90-degree bend and into the shrink bundler and heat tunnel.
“The shrink film makes for a nice, strong unit,” observes Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery chief operations officer Atanas Draganski.
Rates are 75-80 bottles per minute, or 12-13 6-packs per minute. The line runs four days weekly.
Before the installation, these operations had been done manually by four to five operators, according to Draganski. With the new operation, the line requires one operator for the system and one operator packaging the finished packs.
“It took us two days to run the production and now everything is done in one day,” notes Draganski. “That’s about three times the production from before. We save almost a day, plus we save labor and all that manual handling.”
There have been no changes since the installation one year ago. “It has been working great since the start-up,” reports Draganski.
The dairy’s change from corrugated trays to the pads and shrink wrap represents a 50-75% reduction in corrugated and film packaging materials, he says. The pads also offer a 6:1 storage space savings versus corrugated box blanks.
With the material and labor savings, Draganski calculates a two-year payback for the system.
For More Information