New stretch-wrap machine eliminates line stoppages and operator intervention, digests damaged film rolls and increases film yield.
Buffalo Rock Co., a private, family-owned Pepsi and Cadbury Schweppes bottler, has the flexibility to make quick decisions, so when given the opportunity to shake down an alpha model of Lantech's patent-pending No Film Break stretch wrapping machine in 2008, the company took the offer.
"We were already planning to buy an equivalent Lantech rotary-arm machine – without No Film Break – and determined this alpha machine trial was low risk to us, with the manufacturer standing behind it and able to monitor its performance through an on-line connection," says George Garrison, general manager of manufacturing at Buffalo Rock. "In the worst case, we'd have a few days of downtime to bring in a standard unit if the new-technology machine experienced excessive stoppages."
Far from being a source of line stoppages, the machine is all but ignored by operators in the area who tend to it only for film reloads. In fact, the No Film Break machine is so predictable that operators often load the scuffed or partial rolls of film that have caused stoppages on other stretch wrapping machines in the plant. Overall film yield has improved at the plant as a result.
"The most important issue for us with this or any other stretch wrapper," Garrison said, "is consistent output of the bottling line. When running at 40 to 55 pallets per hour, any stoppage at a stretch wrapper requires immediate response from the operators. That's just been a non-issue with this particular machine, and a first in our plant. The uptime improvement and ability to consume entire rolls of film are both great advantages to us."
New bottling line started 2007
Named Bottler of the Year in 2007 by Beverage Industry magazine, Buffalo Rock is one of the nation's largest single-family-owned Pepsi-Cola bottlers. As a result of expanding into full-line vending, catering and food services, Buffalo Rock is now also the largest General Foods distributor.
Founded in the late 1800's, the company established itself in the soft drink business with its own product, which is still made today: Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale. The company's main plant in Birmingham, Va., operates eight production lines for bag-in-box, canned and bottled beverages, supplying 45 million cases per year to its own DC's in the region, as well as others.
The company began installing the back half of its eighth bottling line in 2007, starting with a de-palletizer, air conveyor and other systems, then installing a filler, palletizer and pallet stretch wrapper in 2008. The new line produces a full line of Pepsi products, filling 100 two-liter bottles and 250 20-ounce bottles per minute.
"We'd had good luck with another Lantech stretch wrapper and contacted Piedmont National about a new machine," Garrison said.
The type of machine needed was similar overall to an all-new model ready for field trial with Lantech's patent-pending No Film Break technology.
"After seeing videos of this machine wrap loads from a roll of stretch film that had a hole cored into the side of it – without tearing the film – we agreed to accept it," Garrison said. "And that's the way it has performed for us since – head and shoulders above than anything we've seen before."
Lantech's new rotary-arm straddle machine with No Film Break is designed for operations just like Buffalo Rock's, with an in-line high-speed palletizer. The machine can handle any type of consumer goods, industrial product or beverages, as well as shelf-ready packs and order-picked loads of mixed goods. It is rated at 60-80 pallets per hour, but available with a high-speed option for 80-100 pallets per hour.
The patent-pending No Film Break (NFB) system uses metered film payout. The roll carriage feeds out pre-stretched film, which then recovers on the load to produce the containment force. The machine includes Lantech's patented Pallet-Grip system, which locks the load to the pallet with a cable of film rolled into the bottom edge of the web.
Another unique feature introduced on the NFB machine is a new visual management system from Lantech that provides detailed productivity reports to floor personnel or, via Ethernet, to a central monitoring system. Data tracks and charts in the machine control include machine capacity vs. true utilization, stoppages for starvation, blockage or film break, loads wrapped per hour, shift, day, week and month, loads wrapped per roll of film and a host of other key metrics. The control also reports how many pallets can be wrapped with the film remaining on the roll, allowing operators to budget their time efficiently for reloading. The machine easily consumes the film down to the roll core without the usual end-of-roll tears.
Buffalo Rock prefers 30-inch rolls of film, though No Film Break machines are typically set up for 20-inch rolls. The bottler uses 70-gauge Sigma film, and was averaging 161 pallets per roll with eight revolutions per pallet, according to a recent check of data in the machine's control.
"It's amazing to watch this new machine run rolls of film that have caused film tears on our other machines," Garrison said. "Our pallets all look good and snug coming off this machine, and if we were to need another wrapper anytime soon, we would consider the No Film Break technology as the game to beat."
Lantech's packaging and productivity solutions include semiautomatic and automatic stretch wrapping, automatic case handling, shrink packaging and pallet-load conveying systems. Lantech is the originator of stretch wrapping technology and world's largest manufacturer, with 65,000 systems placed around the world and 175 U.S. and foreign patents. Headquartered in Louisville, Ky., with manufacturing operations in the United States and Europe, Lantech products are sold and serviced by a worldwide network of 175 distributor locations. Visit www.lantech.com for more.
Derek Jones, marketing manager
11000 Bluegrass Pkwy.
Louisville, KY 40299-2399