Always be continuous

May 1, 2011
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
Flexibility and lean manufacturing are driving the growth of robotics, but mechanical motion still rules high-volume packaging.

High speed and reliability have made the 296T tray packer the standard for AriZona Beverage Co. and its copackers. Source: Standard-Knapp Inc.

Robotic motion is pervasive in contemporary machinery for secondary packaging, but the ABCs of high-speed production suggest continuous motion machines will be part of the landscape for decades to come.

“Unless controlled stopping and starting is a requirement, continuous motion is still the standard,” believes Jim Stanger, a machine designer with Portland, CT-based Standard-Knapp Inc. “It’s more robust than robotics, and continuous flow operates at greater speeds. That’s what has been driving the market since the beginning of time.”

Stanger’s career doesn’t stretch quite that far back, but he has designed Standard-Knapp equipment for 40 years, including the Continuum 296T tray packer. AriZona Beverage Co.’s Vincent M. Lotito is among the satisfied clients. The vice president and his director of operations, Mike Putnam, selected the machine for its tool-less changeover feature, reliability and flexibility five years ago when upgrading a line at their Maplewood, NJ plant. The machine boosted speeds about 20 percent to 68 12-packs a minute for 16- and 20-oz. cans and bottles. The fast-growing beverage bottler since has encouraged its copackers to follow its lead.

“With the older equipment, it was typical to have a half-hour or one-hour period where you were tweaking things to maximize efficiency,” says Lotito. The newer units changeover in half the time, and operators, not mechanics, execute the procedures, allowing a rapid return to optimum operating speed.

Continuous improvement has kept the 296T relevant, with additional servo motors helping push top speeds to about 80 cases a minute. Still, the machine must prove its stripes with every new installation. Qualification tests become more demanding every year: “Years ago, reliability on this type of equipment was 80 percent, and the customers were happy with that,” recalls Stanger. Today, 98 percent is a minimum threshold.

“Robotics is necessary and serves a purpose,” he reflects, “but for mass flow of up to 2,400 cans a minute that have to be collated on the fly, continuous motion is still the way to handle it.” 

For more information:

Jim Stanger, Standard-Knapp Inc., 860-342-1100

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

Recent Articles by Kevin Higgins, Senior Editor

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Plant of the Year 2014

Blue Diamond Growers was chosen as Food Engineering's 2014 Plant of the Year. The Sacramento-based company is the world’s largest producer of almonds and almond ingredients.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering December 2014 Cover

2014 December

In the December 2014 issue of Food Engineering read about our Fabulous Food Plant feature on the Chelten House, a new facility in Las Vegas.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

FSMA Audit

What is the is most important step you have taken to become ready for a FSMA audit?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Master Cover 2014Food Master 2014 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.