Automation is a given in high-speed packaging. You have to handle mass-produced packaging when it comes out of the mold and organize the parts for final packaging — usually entirely inline.
This month, Best Practices takes you to tiny New Vienna in southwestern Ohio and the Huhtamaki packaging factory there, where they invested in a sophisticated automation system to injection mold the company's Chinet dinner plates, including a fast side-entry robot from CBW Automation Inc.
Huhtamaki injection molds 7-inch polystyrene plates at the New Vienna plant. When company officials bought a bigger, large-cavitation stack mold, they opted for an integrated automation system. A big part of that was CBW's new BX2 side-entry robot.
CBW, of Fort Collins, Colo., and Huhtamaki go way back. CBW has supplied robotics and automation to Huhtamaki since the late 1970s.
The new system provides a smaller footprint, 50 percent greater production output, quicker changeovers and cost savings vs. the company's previous high-speed retrieval system.
The integrated automation system consists of custom conveying, which connects the shrink wrapper, heat tunnel, pressure-sensitive label applicator and an accumulation table for parking the plate stacks prior to manual packing. A key feature is the availability of a primary and secondary shrink wrap and label applicator system that keeps the line running in case of production interruptions such as roll changes. In the last, with just one downstream line, the production line was forced to shut down.
CBW's servo-driven, B2X side-entry robot removes the molded plates, which eliminates the need to transfer the plates to elevators and laydown features, which are typically pneumatic. The robot removes the molded plates into stack counts of eight, 10, 12, 25 and 32 plates.
"CBW's new design enables us to maintain the footprint in the production line and gain 50 percent output without losing efficiencies," Michael Drake, senior process engineer at Huhtamaki, said. "It also gives us more flexibility for future changes in the manufacturing line."
Taras Konowal, director of sales and marketing for CBW Automation, said: "We've enjoyed a strong relationship with Huhtamaki, and we're thrilled that our newly designed automation system meets their high-productivity needs."
CBW Automation is owned by Mold & Robotics Group of Switzerland.