Packaging at the speed of Twinkies
February 10, 2016
by Joanie Spencer
At Hostess, everything happens fast. After all, speed and efficiency were critical components to the company making what it marketed as “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever" and the central forces to cranking out 1,100 Twinkies a minute in its Emporia, KS plant.
In order to keep product moving in its warehouse model, Hostess turned to full automation on the Twinkie line, all the way through packaging, where no human hands ever touch a Twinkie.
After running through an automated Delta individual wrapper system, the cakes then travel to a ProPack robotic system that loads the cake into cartons. Once in the cartons, Pearson robots pack the individual cartons into corrugate boxes and then again onto pallets.
In a bakery where speed meets variety, it was important for Hostess to have a solution that only moved product quickly but also be versatile. “When the cases go into the pallet stacker, we can program it to pack single-serves and finished multipacks on different pallets,” said Ron Wilson, director, cake manufacturing for Hostess.
The only human fingerprint that gets close to a Twinkie is the one that places a sticker on the pallet. “We have operators running the equipment, but no one ever has to touch a Twinkie,” Mr. Wilson said.