Twin Pack Infeed Retrofit
Pladis (Formerly United Biscuits) the global biscuit, chocolate and confectionary company required a system integrator to execute a suitable retrofit for their existing Jacobs cream Crackers packaging line.
Their exsisting set up consisted of the single packs of crackers were being grouped together into pairs manually by an operator. These would then be transferred onto another conveyor.
This conveyor moved them in pairs to the flow wrap machine to be wrapped into twin packs.
Whilst this arrangement was working for the company, they could see that it was an area where improvements could be made with the help of automation.
As a complete replacement of the packaging line would prove to be a more costly and time consuming solution. Together between Pladis and Adbro controls, the decision to retrofit the exsisting set up was finalised. Agreeing that this was the most suitable solution to what they required.
Due to the nature of the product, the flow wrap conveyor needed to be adaptable. Catering for both single and twin packets of crackers. As part of the retrofit modifications were made to the existing conveyor setup to achieve this. We installed two additional conveyors, pack stops and a divertor to eliminate the need for manual sorting.
To automate the separation process, we used vision technology.
Packets of crackers were monitored via a Basler camera as they travelled along the conveyor. The pack stops were programmed to open and shut according to the positioning of the crackers, both before and after the pairing. We used an encoder to set the spacing between the packets to avid overfill or delays, this was controlled by a compact Logix PLC.
The new set up allowed for a smooth transition between the conveyors in preparation for the flow wrap.
An HMI was installed to allow the operator to swap between the 3 different modes set for the infeed conveyors.
This permits a single pack to run at a set speed along the existing conveyor. This would pass under the new conveyor and straight into the case packer.
This mode was specifically set for the twin packs. Allowing the packets to move along the new conveyor before being divided into pairs, then diverted to the flow wrap to be wrapped accordingly.
This final mode is for manual maintenance. It allows the operator to control each section of the system independently should they need to do so.
Introducing automation via this retrofit to the packaging line at Pladis has been very beneficial for production.
They can now prepare packets for the flow wrap in a much quicker and in a more efficient manner than with the previous set up.
Eliminating the process of manually separating the packets has not only been more cost effective for the company, it has also allowed them to use the operators resources elsewhere in production.
Take a look at the video to the right. You can see the transformation from the manually operated process to the new automated upgrade.