Robotics and counter-flow technology can significantly increase efficiencies.
Robotics and counter-flow technology can significantly increase efficiencies.


Integrating for speed

Another strategy applies integration to serve higher speeds. TNA’s Robag, for example, includes standard features like single-pass film loading, auto-positioning vacuum drives, servo-driven quick-change jaws, a patented product stripper and tube closer. It also has upstream and downstream integration options spanning multihead weighers, metal detectors, code applicators and more.

Mr. Lozano underscored the importance of improving other down-the-line features.

“The flow of the product through the metal detector helps improve speed as well,” he said. “When we change something, such as the geometry of metal detectors to eliminate any ‘dead spots,’ we boost output by 30 bags per minute from the detector alone.”

More durable design also leads to greater speeds, he noted.

Belting affects output rates. To that end, Mr. Lozano said TNA updated its vacuum-belt drive system to be more durable.

“One of the highest costs is to replace belts that wear and slip and cause problems with speed, accuracy and consistency,” he said. “We’ve doubled the life of the belts, which also makes the machine better, faster and more reliable.”

Systems for closures are also keeping up with upstream speeds. Burford Corp., for example, offers the Model 2000VT twist tyer designed to tie bags in the upright position at high speeds. Burford also has a tape closure system with an optional conveyor and printer that allows taping at a rate of more than 100 bags a minute.

Targeting operations further down the line, A-B-C Packaging Machine is designing systems that also meet the need for speed, including case erectors and sealers that can run up to 50 cases per minute.

“Our pick-and-place packers run a wide speed range, determined by the product and case pack,” Mr. Sinicrope said. “We offer both robotic and conventional palletizers that run wide ranges.”

Mr. Sinicrope stressed the role that integration plays in keeping things moving at a good clip, noting that A-B-C’s equipment uses industry-standard controllers to integrate with other machines on the line.

“In some cases, our customer has a specific automation requirement, or maybe they have it standardized on a control platform,” he said. “Once we have their requirements, we can supply our machines to integrate with theirs.”