Case Study

Erect, Pack, Seal & Palletize System

Laundry Scent Booster Bottles

Project Overview

This contract manufacturer was preparing to open a new secondary packaging operation, dedicated to a multinational producer of personal and household care products. The complexity of the operation required an innovative partner capable of providing a comprehensive solution on a short timeline.

Objective 1: Consistent production capacity

  • The amount of manpower needed to achieve production rates was unrealistic by volume, associated cost and the inability to form bliss boxes by hand
  • Increased reliability, reduced downtime and reduced human errors were critical project requirements
  • The customer hoped to gather system analytics by tying into an existing SCADA system

Pearson Solutions

  • Automation ensures consistently high production rates of 300 products/75 cases per minute as opposed to a sister facility utilizing manual labor for its secondary packaging process
  • The use of robotics provides a high level of reliability (80-100,000 hours Mean Time Between Failure [MTBF]), effectively reducing maintenance and downtime
    Automatic tool change on the robotic packers and palletizers provides faster, more efficient changeovers
  • Pearson’s PackML-compliant equipment provides a common platform across all equipment and easy access to machine data

Objective 2: Flexibility to handle product & case variation

The optimal solution needed to accommodate both RSCs and bliss boxes within the same system, along with 10 different product/pack configurations and two different pallet configurations

Superior product handling was necessary to reliably transport and pack tall, unstable products, featuring a scent-release cap design that was not compatible with traditional vacuum-pick technology

Optimal buffering and accumulation within a limited floor space was crucial to maximize system uptime and availability to support production requirements

Pearson Solutions

  • The incorporation of case erectors and sealers accommodate RSCs, while a bliss former with a sealer bypass produces open-top display boxes
  • Conveyor rails guide and stabilize products entering the packing station and timing screws divert and group products into appropriate pack patterns
  • Four robotic top loaders (each equipped with three end-of-arm tools for varying product sizes) grip products at the neck rather than by the cap
  • Two end-of-arm palletizing tools quickly switch between RSC and bliss display boxes

Objective 3: Aggressive production start date

  • Quick turnaround of a system concept, quote and build was critical to meet the customer’s contracted timeline for production start-up

Pearson Solutions

Pearson’s two week quote turnaround and industry leading 22-week lead time for the entire system beats industry average lead times of 28-30 weeks. Lead times were achievable as a result of:

  • A consultative design approach to gain thorough understanding of the requirements, despite a lack of product samples
  • Pearson’s ability to source a majority of system components including all required erect, pack, seal and palletize equipment from its own portfolio
  • Full integration of third-party equipment, simplifying logistics and commissioning
  • User Centric Design’s uniform interface, which hastens the learning curve for operators and maintenance technicians to quickly navigate the HMI and equipment

Sequence of Operations

Two Pearson CE50-G Case Erectors use top and bottom vacuum and a servo-driven set-up arm to erect knockdown RSCs (regular slotted containers). The minor flaps are closed, hot melt glue is applied, and a compression ram presses into the case to close the major flaps against a back-up plate. The erected cases are rotated 90 degrees at the discharge to be turned upright and conveyed away.

An existing third-party bliss former is integrated to form display bliss cases for bulk product runs. A bypass mode enables open bliss boxes to travel through the sealer along the same path as the RSCs, keeping conveying and overall footprint to a minimum.

The continuous motion sidebelt conveyors transport the cases/boxes to dual packing stations. One timing screw diverts the products into two lanes, while a second timing screw groups them into the appropriate pack pattern. Line tracking determines the product location.

Four FANUC LRMate 200iD/7L robots use a custom end-of-arm gripper tool to pick and place products into the cases in arrangements of 4, 6 and 8-packs. Auto tool change reduces changeover time between product sizes and pack patterns.

Filled cases are identified with a barcode label, applied by a set of integrated print and apply labelers. A pair of third-party checkweighers with reject stations ensure cases are complete.

Two Pearson CS40-67G Case Sealers fold the RSC minor flaps, then apply hot melt glue and fold the major flaps. Cases are conveyed beneath compression rollers for sealing.

In the palletizing cell, a pallet is released from the dispenser and conveyed to the load build station. The FANUC M-410iC/185 palletizing robot picks a slip-sheet from the automatic dispenser as it receives RSCs from two lanes. As an alternative, bliss boxes are received in a single lane and also palletized in the cell. The cases/boxes are turned and accumulated for picking. RSCs are picked with a custom vacuum end-of-arm tool, while bliss boxes are picked with a custom fork tool and layered according to the selected pack pattern. Automatic tool change simplifies the transition between different case/box styles.

Once a pallet stack is complete and discharged from the cell, it is transferred to an automatic stretchwrapper where the pallet stack is wrapped. Finally, a takeaway conveyor transports the pallet to a third-party label printer which tags the pallet stack for shipping, and the sequence repeats.