In Australia, Foodmach, the packaging equipment provider, has integrated a case palletiser into a fully automated labelling, carton packing, shrinkwrapping and palletising line using networked PLC's and Supervisory Control Systems. This provides fast changeover of consumables and instant resetting of the many different machines involved for canned fruit specialist Ardmona.
Foodmach combined conveying and pallet handling machinery from its Echuca factory in Victoria with appropriate imported components to put the whole project together, including installation electronics, software and networking.
"Foodmach acted as manufacturer, supplier and project manager, taking care of everything from the software to the paint on the floor," according to Ardmona's engineering manager, Howard Brettig. "Their tender offered the best option at the best price. It churns out whichever packaging format suits our customers, juggling a range of different sized cans, ending up in packs of six, 12 or 24, boxed or trayed and shrinkwrapped, then palletised in any of 8 patterns. These changes happen several times a day."
New software memorises the requirements for all Ardmona's major canned products. "To switch from, say small peaches to large tomatoes, the supervisor simply consults a PC which automatically reconfigures most of the machinery, specifies label and carton changes and instructs the operators on their new mechanical settings," explains Foodmach packaging machinery consultant, Michael Power.
Only three operators are required and the control system can be accessed by any PC in the factory or interrogated via the internet.
Starting on a depalletiser, newly canned products enter a Foodmach pressureless singuliser that gently separates the cans into single file and spaces them for labelling. A new accumulator conveyor then buffers the labelled cans, ready for the tray/carton packer. After coding, a high speed Foodmach SMI shrinkwrapper either shrinkwraps the trays or doubles as a conveyor for cartoned product. One of the first of its kind in Australia, the SMI quickly adjusts to suit all Ardmona's products.
An elevating conveyor/accumulator then lifts the finished packs to a Packital acceleration conveyor and line divider, which feeds the final palletiser. By indexing down as layers are formed on top, the Foodmach palletiser ensures gentle handling and fast throughput of both Australian and export-sized pallets.