Case study: Designing and installing automation into end-of-line packaging for diaper manufacturer – by Josh Goulet, Account Manager, Edson
There was a time not that long ago that many end-user paper customers would manage all aspects of a new packaging line integration. They would map out expansion plans within their facility, research available packaging options, evaluate different packaging suppliers, compare quotes – in other words, do all the heavy lifting themselves, in addition to their regular duties.
These types of expansion scenarios are becoming less common however, as trimmed-down staffs and dwindling tribal knowledge relating to managing projects of this scope are leading some companies to look for alternatives.
ProMach and its family of packaging-focused brands, has become one of those alternatives. An entire case packing line installation was completed recently for a major North American diaper manufacturer in which two ProMach brands, Edson and Zarpac, collaborated together in managing the project from start to finish. The advantage of cooperation like this to the customer was bringing to life a fully-automated packaging line and successful install that was not only turnkey, but managed by one central point of contact.
Reduced staffing is pushing companies to streamline the specification process by having one supplier assume control of a project from initiation through completion. This trend relies on the expertise of the partnering supplier to work with other vendors to research and recommend a total line solution.
This has created an opportunity for suppliers to assume the dual roles of project management and integrator for full end-of-line packing applications. Some RFPs are directing a supplier to essentially take ownership of the whole line from the time their products are in the primary package all the way to the pallet. That can be a big endeavor to undertake, but we are seeing more requests like this, and not just from the small to midsize companies. Larger Fortune 500 companies have begun pushing project management duties onto suppliers as well.
ProMach’s business model is one where it embraces collaboration among its brands. By sharing information on a project, it’s common for a solution to include products or systems from two or more family brands. The idea is that if you call on us with a project involving a case packer, you may also need the labeling, marking, coding, weighing, conveying and palletizing equipment that comes both before and after the case packing machinery. While Edson specializes in case packers,, our business alliances can provide solutions for the rest of your packaging line. The advantages these alliances bring to customers are clear: they can specify all the equipment needed for diaper a packaging line and do so in a streamlined process where all facets of the project are under a single unified roof.
For years the diaper manufacturer followed the practice of hand packing all of its diapers, but was now looking to add more automation to its packing process. For larger orders, leadership would schedule 20 or more temporary workers to handle shipments; other days, a staff of 10 could handle packing duties.
The drive to automate was in part due to COVID-19 and the regulations outlining distancing to employees, but the company was also growing and needed to upgrade their packing capabilities to meet increased orders without having to hire temporary workers.
They reached out to Edson, a manufacturer of case and tray packing solutions specifically designed for the converted paper and diaper markets. While the initial thought was to automate case packing and palletizing, Edson was able to identify areas where additional efficiencies could be gained during the exploratory process by auditing the customer’s entire packaging and packing lines. This led Edson to bring in Zarpac, one of the ProMach family brands who specializes in consulting packaging line engineering services, design and turnkey packaging systems. This was made possible through the brand alliances that help create a one-stop shop for customers.
Other industries, such as travel, have been doing this for years. When booking a flight, you can add in the car rental, hotel and attractions all at the same time from partnering companies. ProMach embraces this concept and encourages collaboration between brands because it directly benefits the customer.
One of the first steps Edson and Zarpac completed was an on-site visit to the diaper manufacturer where they laser-scanned the entire facility to create a 3D model of the layout. From there, they began designing the lines by placing equipment, such as the conveyors, metal detectors, weight checkers, case packers and palletizers to ensure adequate product flow within the confines of the facility. Additionally, their plans called for the expansion of 11 total lines, so future installations were also accounted for. The first part of this project included two pack lines.
While the conveyance was supplied by a non-ProMach company, it was still able to seamlessly integrate with the entire line. It’s important to note that Edson can easily integrate with other brands, especially if a customer has a pre-existing packaging line or relationship with other brands but is looking to upgrade just their case packer, or if another brand may be a better solution for the project. Whatever solution that’s in the best interest of our customers is the path that we follow.
For the factory acceptance test (FAT), Edson and Zarpac hosted it virtually by live streaming the machines so that the customer could see it fully in action. With ongoing travel restrictions, this allows the customer to express any questions or concerns they may have before receiving their machines and the project team will be able to answer it right away during the demonstration. This has become an effective option for customers to see their new machines ahead of time, whether they are installing just a case packer or an entire packaging line.
When all the pack lines at the diaper manufacturer are fully functional, they will be running at about 21 cases a minute. If future production increases, the pack lines and case packers have the flexibility to increase speed as well. Some diaper manufacturers are packing 30 cases per minute; those speeds are likely to rise to 40 or more cases per minute in the coming years due to market demands. It’s important that not only the case packer can handle those types of speed, but all machinery on the line is up to the task. Flexibility of equipment to meet changing market environments for diapers, as well as other converted paper products, is key to staying ahead of the competition.
Edson manufactures case and tray packing systems with unrivaled expertise in handling delicate tissue and paper-based products while maintaining high levels of packing performance. Edson’s core offerings include high-speed horizontal case packing, product handling, and integrated solutions. Like their machinery, Edson’s relationships with their customers are built to last, acheiving a legacy of excellence with the most renowned tissue converting companies. Edson is a product brand of ProMach, a global leader in packaging line solutions. As part of the ProMach Robotics & End of Line business line, Edson helps our packaging customers protect their reputation and grow the trust of their consumers. ProMach is performance, and the proof is in every package. Learn more about Edson at www.Edson.com and more about ProMach at www.ProMachBuilt.com.