Food Engineering

Field Report <br>Got milk? Palletizing system<br> has it and moves it--fast

March 4, 2004
Fluid milk plant improves efficiency on its processing and packaging lines.

The Currie LSP-7 includes a heavy-duty rack and pinion-operated stripper plate that moves throughout the cycle without flexing, which allows the unit to run Turner’s corrugated or plastic cases with equal efficiency and minimal changeover time. Source: Currie Machinery.
The mission? To transform the former Gold Star Dairy plant into a state-of-the-art facility that would not only produce 190,000 gallons of milk each day but also be versatile enough to do so in long and short runs and in corrugated or plastic crates as needed. Sound tough? It did to Mike Flagg, operations manager for the Little Rock, AR plant owned by Turner Holdings. "We needed a machine that would interchangeably palletize corrugated cases and plastic crates on our four filling lines and that would readily integrate with the other new equipment, like rotary stretch-wrappers, that we were installing as part of the remodel," says Flagg.

Built in 1981, the plant was completely stripped and rebuilt without shutting down during the 18-month long project. Turner Holdings' goal was to create its largest, most technologically advanced processing facility out of the Gold Star Dairy plant. The renovation needed to expand capacity for existing products, reduce maintenance costs, replace older machinery to increase efficiency and production, and improve ergonomics and worker safety. "We were looking to make our processing and packaging lines more cost efficient and do long runs for our own brands and our larger customers and shorter runs for our smaller customers," says Flagg.

To help solve the company's palletizing issues, Flagg consulted a manufacturing rep firm that recommended Currie Machinery. Impressed by the Currie LSP-7 palletizer's ability to handle changeovers, Flagg selected the equipment as part of the plant's renovation.

The plant installed four filling lines with an accumulation and conveying system that feeds into three Currie LSP-7 palletizers with layer squaring or "squeezer" units. The squeezer holds a layer of plastic crates in position after it is formed until it is dropped into position and nested on the previous layer in the stacking process. The palletizers run 30 to 60 cases per minute and their multiple product memories were programmed by the dairy's production foreman to run the various crate and carton patterns required for both Coleman products and customers' private label products. The plant typically runs a 3x3 or split seven case pattern at a mean case rate of 25-30 cases per minute. Currently, the largest cases running are 12x18 corrugated palletized on 40x48 pallets. The smallest are 12x12 plastic crates holding four gallons of milk that are palletized on 40x40 pallets.

If necessary, the LSP-7 units can be upgraded to process 30-50 cases per minute, reaching quantities upwards of 60 cases per minute. "The palletizers can be programmed to run various crates and cartons in a variety of patterns and they required no modifications other than the addition of the squeezer unit," says Flagg. "We expanded our palletizing operations from one to three without requiring any additional employees, and we met our goal of improving worker safety and reducing the potential for work-related claims."

For more information:
Currie Machinery
408-727-0422
www.currie.net