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New shrink wrappers pay off for Venezuelan food manufacturer

Alimentos Polar installed four shrink-wrapping machines at its plant in Mariguitar, Venezuela to run four sizes of tuna cans and a similar machine in Valenzia, Venezuela to run tomato sauce in bottles and cans.

Alimentos Polar (AP), a major food manufacturer and marketer in Venezuela, recently installed five shrink-wrapping machines at two of its plants. One machine is used for tomato sauce in glass bottles or metal cans at the plant in Valencia and the other four machines are used for tuna packed in four sizes of metal cans at a plant in Mariguitar. “We wanted to increase the capacity and efficiency of our packaging operations,” says Nestor Uzcategui, packaging engineering manager. That included guaranteeing the quality of the product, labor optimization, more economic use of packaging material and increasing the quantity of containers on a pallet. The new machines achieved all of these goals.”

AP offers a wide variety of products that includes corn flours, oils, mayonnaise, margarines, tomato sauces, tuna, chocolate drinks, pasta products, rice, oats, ice creams, animal feed, and cleaning and household products. The company has 17 plants with a total capacity of 2.1 million tons/year and a distribution network that reaches over 45,000 sales locations.

Full wrap of containers

AP wanted the following features: secure wrapping of the containers so that none of them would fall out accidently or be removed intentionally; carton pads to minimize corrugated consumption and to allow for stacking and handling of product without film deterioration; the use of hot melt adhesive; stability so that the containers would not move within the load; and a compact bundle. AP also required the machines to handle different shapes and sizes of containers at line speeds between 100 and 350 containers/min.

Between November 2008 and January 2009, AP installed five Model CFH continuous-motion horizontal form/fill/seal shrink wrappers from Polypack Inc. “We have been using Polypack machines to package corn flour and chocolate powder for many years, so we know their flexibility and reliability for our requirements,” says Uzatequi. “Polypack provided technical support and trained our operators and maintenance personnel including mechanics and electricians. It also helped adjust the machines to adapt them to the rest of the production line and to the characteristics of the existing local packaging.”

Multiple container sizes

To start the tuna-can wrapping operation, labeled cans are conveyed in bulk to one of the shrink wrappers. Back-and-forth-reciprocating guides divide the cans into lanes. Depending on the number of cans in a pack, the cans are divided into three lanes for a six pack, four lanes for a 12- or 24-pack, or six lanes for a 48-pack. A conveyor then moves separated groups of cans into a staging area of the machine, where they are held back by fingers. A corrugated pad is inserted onto the conveyor from a magazine on the side of the machine, and a flight bar with fingers extending downward, which is connected to chains on both sides of the machine, comes around behind the group of cans and pushes them onto the pad and into the wrapping section.

Machine wraps and shrinks film completely around cans with no bulls eye where loose cans or bottles can fall out or be removed.

High-clarity film

Simultaneously, the 3-mil PE film enters the machine from a roll mounted on the side of the machine. It passes over a 45-deg roller that changes its direction to coincide with bottle travel. It then passes over a series of dancer rollers that pull the film from the roll and feed it down into the wrapper, where it is formed into a tube traveling in the direction of product flow, with an overlap on the bottom. Vacuum transferred through holes in the conveyor holds the bottom film in place so that it travels with the conveyor. The pad and cans are pulled along on top of the film as it travels, while a heated bar seals the longitudinal film overlap on the bottom.

A reciprocating forming head containing a heated seal bar travels above each group of cans. At the end of a stroke, the bar descends and seals and cuts the film at the trailing edge of the leading group and the leading edge of the following group. The forming head recycles back and repeats this process for the next group. The wrapped groups of bottles then travel through a shrink tunnel that is also from Polypack.

The wrapper incorporates a PLC and a color touchscreen HMI with message display and self diagnostics. The system includes preprogrammed settings for speeds, timing and temperature settings.
Alimento Polar shrink wraps cans of tuna in six, 12, 24 and 48 packs. Here, 24 packs are being manually palletized. Some other lines have automatic palletizers.

The wrapper incorporates a MicroLogix 1500 PLC from Rockwell Automation, as well as a Telemecanique color touchscreen HMI from Schneider Electric with message display and self diagnostics. The system includes preprogrammed settings for conveyor speeds, timing and temperature settings for fast, accurate setup when changing products.

Labelers and palletizers

As part of the project, AP installed Model BH1600 inline labelers from B&H Labeling Systems to run BOPP labels on rolls instead the traditional precut paper labels. The BH1600 is a roll-fed labeler designed specifically for packaging operations with moderate production-capacity requirements, providing performance and reliability at an economical price. The labeler features a patented computer registration system that virtually eliminates the out-of-tolerance labels common to mechanical labeling systems. An onboard computer coordinates the advanced electromechanical system, offering finite label-registration control. Sensors detect variances within the label parameters, and the necessary adjustments are made automatically, without slowing or stopping the line. The CRS ensures that labels are cut to the correct length and in the correct location. AP also installed Powerpaq 600 cartesian palletizers from TMG Implanti S.r.L. at the ends of the lines.

The control systems for the labeler, shrink wrapper and palletizer were integrated by AP personnel to provide operating continuity and efficiency.


More information is available:
Polypack Inc., 727/578-5000. www.polypack.com
B&H Labeling Systems, 209/556-6160. www.bhlabeling.com.
Rockwell Automation Inc., 414/382-2000. www.rockwellautomation.com
TMG Implanti S.r.L., 39 0 49 94 67 911. www.tmgimpianti.it
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