Cartoning fizzy products

Jack Mans, Plant Operations Editor

January 29, 2014

5 Min Read
Cartoning fizzy products


Amerilab Technologies, Plymouth, MN, is a private-label and contract manufacturer that specializes in the development and production of effervescent tablets and dietary supplements, for sale under its own label and others. At 225,000 sq ft, it is the largest U.S.-based effervescent-product manufacturer in the nutritional industry.

Amerilab produces a number of package configurations, including tablets in sachet packages and in tubes. In the last year, it has installed three Model 15BC105 continuous-motion, automatic-loading, horizontal cartoners from ADCO Manufacturing, Inc. ( to run these products. Two of these machines are equipped with ADCO's special starwheel indexer for tube products, while the third machine only runs the packets. “We saw this machine at Pack Expo, and we were very impressed with its operation. It was very smooth and didn't miss a beat,” says vp of operations Dawn Poellinger. “We were also impressed at how short their delivery time was—only eight to ten weeks.”

The packet machine was delivered in December 2005 and the two tube machines in February and March 2006, respectively. “ADCO technicians helped us install and start up the first machine and trained our operators and maintenance people,” says Poellinger. “The whole thing took less than a week. Their techs really knew what they were doing and worked well with our people. They came back for a short time when the second machine was delivered, and we handled the third machine on our own.”

During PD's visit, the packet machine was running a sachet packet containing four Drinkin' Mate™ effervescent tablets. In this operation, the packets are manually placed in flights on the infeed conveyor, which transports them into the machine. Flat, end-loading cartons are placed into a 4-ft-long powered hopper that delivers them to a rotating, three-head carton feeder. Vacuum cups on each of the three heads pick cartons from the face of the magazine and erect them in the carton conveyor, where they are opened, and the flaps are captured.


Continuous-motion, auto-load, horizontal cartoners, left, run tubes and/or sachet packets.

As the packets and cartons travel through the cartoner, the automatic barrel-cam inserter pushes the packets into the cartons. The machine is equipped with no-product/no-carton and no-carton/no-product sensors. Thus, if a flight on the product conveyor is empty, a carton will not be erected in the corresponding flight on the carton conveyor. Conversely, if a carton is missing, the corresponding inserter will not move, and the product travels to the end of the conveyor and falls into a tub.

The cartoner is also equipped with an automatic product inserter that features an adjustable overload sensor system with an automatic retraction feature. If a packet jams as it is being pushed into the carton, the sensor detects the stoppage and retracts the pusher and stops the machine, so the operator can remove the jam. Filled cartons are closed by a ProBlue hot-melt glue system from Nordson Corp. ( , after which they pass a Videojet Technologies, Inc. ( ink-jet printer that applies a lot code and a use-by date to the bottom end-flap.

The special starwheel indexer on the other two ADCO machines, which is intended for tube products, features a simple and ingenious system to deliver one or two tubes to be pushed into a carton. The tubes are delivered end-to-end on an infeed conveyor and enter the cavities of the rotating indexer. After revolving 90 deg, the tube drops onto a short, reciprocating metal plate that retracts and drops it into the flighted product conveyor on the cartoner, when running a one-tube pack. To load two tubes into the same carton, the reciprocating plate remains stationary below the indexer until tubes from two cavities have dropped onto it, after which it reciprocates and drops both tubes into the same flight on the product conveyor. The inserter then pushes both tubes into the carton.

“The cartoners have really run well,” says Poellinger. “We haven't had any major downtime, and ADCO's service has been excellent, when we did need it. Their service technicians have been very knowledgeable and well-prepared.”


Vacuum cups pick cartons from the magazine and place them on the carton conveyor, where they are opened.

The sachet packets of effervescent tablets are produced on vertical form/fill/seal machines from Wrapade Packaging Systems, LLC ( . The tablets are loaded into an overhead hopper that discharges into four tracks traveling down into the f/f/s section. During PD's visit, the plant was running four-packs in a two-by-two configuration, so the machine was producing two packages at a time. The film for the sachets, which is a laminate of paper/polyethylene/foil/lacquer (from the outside), is supplied by Winpak Heat Seal Packaging, Inc. ( . Two rolls of film are used to produce the packets. One is randomly printed with the product name, while the other is plain white. The packs are sealed and perforated between each vertical and horizontal row of tablets and are cut apart horizontally after each two rows.

The cartons that discharge from the cartoner are manually placed in display trays, which are then fed to a shrink-wrapping system consisting of a Conflex, Inc. ( wrapper followed by a Weldotron® 2000, Inc. ( shrink tunnel.

More information is available:

ADCO Manufacturing, Inc., 559/875-5563.

Conflex, Inc., 262/255-5120.

Nordson Corp., 770/497-3700.

Weldotron® 2000, Inc., 615/893-7577.

Videojet Technologies, Inc., 630/860-7300.

Winpak Heat Seal Packaging, Inc., 450/424-0191.

Wrapade Packaging Systems, LLC, 973-773-6150.

About the Author(s)

Jack Mans

Plant Operations Editor

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