To keep pace with the influx of business, Sweet Eddie’s required new wrapping and date coding equipment that would improve its overall line efficiency.

PFM’s PEARL packaging machine replaces an older model, speeding up the production process and creating less waste. (Inset, left) Markem-Imaje’s 18 Series thermal transfer printer allows Sweet Eddie’s to date code each individual package. Sources: PFM, Markem-Imaje.

Servo-driven machine simplified operations and reduced manual labor

Ed Allen founded Sweet Eddie’s in 1998 as a small retail outlet serving cinnamon rolls to local customers. Eventually, the company evolved into a wholesale business serving major airlines and later transitioned into the food service industry with sales to national retailers, food service accounts and distributors. As the company’s business model evolved, so did its product offerings. Aside from the specialty cinnamon rolls that have been produced since day one, the company also produces various cakes and cookies.

“Sweet Eddie’s has really transformed over the years, and we’ve been fortunate to experience steady business growth throughout,” says Allen.

To keep pace with the influx of business, Sweet Eddie’s required new wrapping and date coding equipment that would improve its overall line efficiency. While visiting PACK EXPO, Allen looked at several suppliers’ machines and compared features. After some post-show follow-up, Allen moved forward with the purchase of a PEARL horizontal wrapping machine from PFM Packaging Machinery Corporation and an 18 Series thermal transfer printer from Markem-Imaje.

PFM’s machine wraps products in pillow-pack style packs from a flat reel of heat sealable wrapping material. The full-servo wrapper is equipped with an axis motion controller and brushless servomotors, and has a color-touch screen, allowing users to adjust machine settings and save them for regular automatic adjustments to bag length, print registration position, positions of the crimpers, the dwell and the wrapping speed.

The new wrapper replaced a smaller wrapping machine from PFM, which Sweet Eddie’s had outgrown. Installing the new system allowed the company to wrap its products faster and more efficiently, resulting in a significant increase in daily productivity and output.

Special features of the horizontal wrapping machine further improved the efficiency of Sweet Eddie’s operations. A no-product, no-film function saves on packaging waste costs by immediately halting the machine’s crimper and stopping the machine if there is no product on the line. The system’s product-out-of-place function stops the line if it senses a product is positioned incorrectly, preventing machine jams.

Additionally, the servo-driven machine simplified operations and reduced the amount of manual labor for employees. The computerized settings enabled workers to quickly and easily adjust the size settings for different products running on the machine. With fewer manual adjustments to make, the company also saw a reduction in changeover time.

“Workers have found the new machine to be very user-friendly,” Allen says. “We don’t change the product out on the machine too often. However, if we were to run cookies for three hours and switch to running muffins for six hours, it would save time to have the automated settings.”

Though the machine is primarily used to wrap the company’s cinnamon rolls, it also has the capability to wrap other offerings in different sizes, leaving the door open for future expansion.

After comparing printers, Allen purchased an 18 Series thermal transfer printer from Markem-Imaje to meet customer demand for date-coded individually wrapped products.

“Prior to this purchase, we only date coded boxes of items, rather than each individual one,” explains Allen. “The new system changed that, ensuring our customers knew they were getting the freshest product possible.”

The printer features real-time digital coding, a 1mm gap between prints, a dockable LCD handheld user interface and the ability to set automatic date rollover, eliminating manual type changes. The compact coder maximizes the use of ribbon consumables to reduce waste. It requires little maintenance and allows the user to change information instantaneously, which reduces downtime.