The recent squeeze on their profit margins through higher input costs and a slow down in demand growth for their products has pushed the food and drink sectors to improve the efficiency of their processing operations. Plants are investing in bigger and faster equipment to increase production.
UK-based Bradman Lake said its Racetrack Cartoner collates product, erects, loads and seals endload cartons at speeds of between 350 to 400 bars a minute.
"It delivers high-speed packing line performance with lower machinery costs than robotic top load systems plus the added bonus of considerable savings of packaging materials and factory space," the company stated yesterday.
Until now, producing packs of wrapped cereal bars in volume required a carton erector, a robotic top loader and three-flap carton closer. Flow-wrapped confectionery bars had to be manually fed into the machines for loading, company spokesperson Paul Jeffery said.
"People are really looking for automation," he told FoodProductionDaily.com. "This helps reduce their labour costs."
The Racetrack has twin servo-driven belts, each with nine pockets. The machine can provide various product counts, including the number of layers, to a synchronised indexing motion carton end loader.
Cartons from a motorised magazine are erected by a triple-head rotary feeder and loaded into the pocketed infeed conveyor of the indexer by a compact overhead pusher unit, also servo-driven and triple-headed.
The bars are then loaded into the erected cartons during the stationary phase of the cycle by a second overhead pusher. The pusher replaces the extended barrel loader section used in many continuous motion end loaders.
Two of the new machines have been delivered to South Wales and another is en route to New Zealand.