Winning the case with automation equipment
Moving to semi- or fully automated equipment could increase production, save cost on equipment and ensure quick changeover.
Automation is big these days – the simpler, faster, more cost-effective and compact it is, the better off the line will run. Or will it? Thankfully, there will always be a need for packaging line workers. After all, someone has to be there when the machines do – and they do – fail for some reason or another. Or, when a changeover needs to take place, and when the HMI (human machine interface) must be dialed in to properly calibrate and set up the machines.
A case packer actually does more than just pack a shipping case. It erects a case, packs and fills it, and then seals it. And, whatever the product is may depend on the type of case packer you need: are you packing glass bottles? Flexible pouches? Stick packs or aluminum cans? Here are some new packing machines of different styles that may pique your interest if you happen to be in the market.
If you’re looking to automate, take a look at the new snack packer from A-B-C Packaging (abcpackaging.com). The Model 19 provides smooth and gentle product handling that maintains product integrity as it automatically indexes and accumulates each product load before sliding it through stainless steel loading funnels into the shipping case. Only one operator is needed to open cases and place them on the case packing funnel, thereby reducing labor and associated costs. This machine is so compact that it uses just 75 square feet of floor space, including infeed and takeaway conveyors. It can run speeds up to 15 cases per minute, depending on operator dexterity, the product and the pack arrangement. The Model 19 is packed with standard features including powered infeed with product sensors, no case-no load and no product-no load protection, full guarding with see-through panels, easy access operator controls and product takeaway conveyor. It packs cartons, shrinkwrapped multipacks, rigid and semi-rigid containers into RSC, HSC and display cases, and has features to ensure quick changeover.
The popular and speedy 424 T2 (D) by Somic (somic.us) gives customers the capability to produce retail-ready packages with perfect repeatability. The machine delivers high performance by collating, grouping and packaging products in open display trays, as well as trays with covers and wraparound cases. It also can be fitted with individual format tools for a wide range of product dimensions. The 424 T2 (D) saves time, is capable of collating 600 products per minute depending on size, and can carton as many as 35 cases per minute. Added bonus? With the ability to form and load into the tray, soft or flexible products can be condensed into a tighter package. This case packer satisfies key standard functional groups or modules – collation, grouping, carton erecting, and covering and closing modules. The modules are placed into a new frame design, which enables the functional groups to be placed into a variety of positions. The 424 T2 (D) was developed specifically for the U.S. market, which desired a machine that runs both standard cases as well as retail-ready tray and cover formats.
The ropac® 5 by tna (tnasolutions.com) is a compact, ultra-high-speed case packer for flexible bags that can reach speeds of up to 300 bags per minute. It is a side-load case packer that uses the company’s unique, patented semi-rotary bag stacking technology to pack small to medium, pillow-style snack bags into secondary containers. The tna ropac 5 more than doubles average case packing speeds, offering unprecedented levels of throughput, equipment reliability and one of the smallest machine footprints. Contrary to the majority of case packers that employ vacuum pick and drop technology, the ropac 5 is based on tna’s revolutionary, semi-rotary bag stacking motion. Using continuously revolving horizontal platforms that can accommodate multiple rows of bags, tna’s proprietary system forms, lowers and side loads vertical stacks of bags into a secondary container. The semi-rotary bag stacking system also avoids bags being gripped and dropped by vacuum heads, ensuring that each bag is handled with care, minimizing the risk of product breakage and missed bags. In addition, the tna ropac 5 features semi-automatic, tool-less changeovers that take less than 10 minutes to complete.
For a semi-automatic case packer, a look at WSI Global’s (wsiglobal.com) Pack Mate packaging machine could be the answer. PackMate is a simple, safe and effective way to put product into cases while keeping labor and set-up times at a minimum. Ideal for any folder gluer that is being hand-packed, the machine combines case erecting and positioning for packing in one convenient, semi-automatic operation. Requiring air connection only, PackMate comes complete and ready to integrate into existing packaging systems – and sets up in minutes, right out of the box. When compared to a standard table, PackMate offers significant speed and efficiency benefits. As the operator places the case into the PackMate, the minor flaps of the case are closed. The PackMate then closes the major flaps, positions and holds the case steady and securely on all four sides for packing, and discharges the filled case for taping or other downstream operations. Ergonomically designed, PackMate can be adjusted for height or angle across a wide range that covers most heights and case sizes.
Effective case packing starts with understanding your product and how it fits together, how much empty space will remain in a shipping case, and what you want the customer to see when they get your shipment. No matter if you stick with traditional case packing, or go to a semi- or fully automated machine, do what’s best for your product and your bottom line.