Riding the multi-pack wave
A 100-year-old seafood canning company gets a new bundling machine to meet consumer demand.
When California seafood canning company Chicken of the Sea International saw more of its customers buying multi-packs of shelf-stable seafood, it decided it needed a new bundling machine that could shrinkwrap multiple cans into a package.
The company’s Lyons, GA plant produces about 36,000 cases of product a day. Until recently, it had outsourced shrinkwrapping multi-packs. However, with a rise in demand for variety packages, the plant needed to bring the operations in house, which meant investing in a new machine.
After reviewing the available options, Chicken of the Sea opted for a Standard-Knapp 597 Tritium Multipacker with Robo-Wand wrapping technology and 296TS Continuum tray shrink packers.
“Standard-Knapp equipment meets our speed and cost requirements,” explains Jim Cox, vice president of operations for Chicken of the Sea. “Bundling packs is a pretty complex process, requiring the ability to change over sizes quickly and add film safely and easily.”
The Tritium machine can run up to 120 trays per minute, as opposed to the plant’s previous machine that ran only 20 packages per minute. Currently, the machine is operating at speeds of about 80 trays a minute, so there is room for growth, adds Cox. The unit’s modular construction allows not only future expansion, but also fast and easy changeovers.
“The machine makes it much easier to change over from one pack style to another and to change film from one type to another,” says Chicken of the Sea Plant Engineering Manager Larry Hightower.
Each change part is specifically designed for the particular product. Once the machine is installed, an operator selects the desired product from the HMI, and production can begin. Plus, recovery is better since the equipment is servo controlled, Hightower adds. If there’s a crash or packaging problem, an operator can clean and reset the machine and hit start to get it up and running immediately.
The high-speed Robo-Wand wrapping module can be fully customized to follow the height and length of the final pack pattern, which helps consistently make a tight, wrinkle-free wrap.
“The overwrap wand is held on by a magnet and actually pops off if there is a crash,” Hightower explains. “If the wand tries to overwrap, and a can is in the way, the wand snaps off to keep it from breaking or damaging other parts of the machine.”
Cox says he also likes the slide-out film bed, which provides easy access for maintenance in the film cutting area, allowing operators to quickly recover from a jam.
“A big part is ergonomics because the rolls of film are so heavy. But with a side film stand, loading film is now safe and easy,” notes Cox. “In addition, it’s a modern machine that incorporates motors and programmable logic controllers, is equipped with proper safety stops and gives us everything we need to operate highly efficiently.”