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Machinery upgrades offer a clean sweep

Custom Solutions manufactures and markets more than 225 of the finest quality, environmentally friendly soap products, from liquid soaps and health and beauty care products to household cleaners. The company continues to grow due to its commitment to three initiatives: high quality products, continuous innovation and superior customer service. The company has more than 75 years of experience in formulation, development, manufacturing and turnkey innovation that ensures high-quality products at the lowest cost possible. With 285,000 sq ft of manufacturing and warehouse space located in the Kansas City, MO, area, and several warehouses throughout the U.S., including locations in California, Arizona and Florida, Custom Solutions is poised to be the premier industry provider of quality and cost-competitive products.

Entering the competitive retail environment from the industrial marketplace is extremely challenging, and Custom Solutions knew it would be pitted against much larger manufacturers. To be successful in the retail space, its production lines must perform at high levels of accuracy and consistently produce quality products.

Custom Solutions also had to increase its output. To reach the required volume levels, Doug Glasscock, Custom's president, needed brand new packaging lines that could operate at higher speeds and offer more automation than the equipment Custom Solutions currently relied on. In addition, the technology had to be flexible enough to fill thick and thin liquid soaps, allow for quick changeovers and adapt to both large and small package sizes.

An attendee at the PACK EXPO trade shows for 15 years, Glasscock knew the show could help him locate equipment that met all of his requirements. Glasscock visited the last PACK EXPO Las Vegas to research case packers, fillers, case formers, automatic tapers and in-line capper and filler technology and to see which combination of equipment would provide the best custom solution.

Upon exploring the show's exhibits, Glasscock appreciated that many of the relevant companies had equipment running in their booths. "Viewing the technology in action really gives you a concrete idea about the technological capabilities," he explains. "It can be difficult to recreate an accurate visual of the size, motion and speeds of a system without seeing it firsthand."

After discussions with several companies at the show, Glasscock decided to replace three of the company's old lines with two new, more efficient lines. Some of the equipment purchased includes an Omni-line M1000 high-speed unscrambler and BAO 5000 orientor from Pace Packaging Corp. (www.pacepkg.com); two 3M-Matic(TM) Case Sealing Systems from 3M Industrial Adhesives & Tapes Div. (www.3m.com/packaging); two Model # V-12TFB31 12-station rotary volumetric time pressure filling machines from Pacific Packaging Machinery (www.pacificpak.com); Auto-120 and Auto-200 cappers from Pack West Machinery Co. (www.packwest.com); and two HPE-215 case erectors from MARQ Packaging Systems (www.marq.net).

The Omni-line BAO 5000 orientor offers a simple, cost-effective solution to many of the challenges Custom Solutions faced. The company packages its products in a variety of asymmetrical bottle sizes, ranging from 8 oz up to 1 gal in volume. With its in-line design, the BAO 5000 eliminates the complexity and high cost of rotary machines and can accommodate a wide range of bottle formats and sizes on the same machine. In addition, the system's fully calibrated, tool-less design ensures consistency and rapid changeovers.

Meanwhile, the M1000 high-speed unscrambler contributes to increased line speed, as the system can process lightweight PET 500-mL bottles at 675+ bpm.

The 3M-Matic(TM) case sealing system offers Custom Solutions advanced capabilities for high-volume packaging, including sensors at the case in-feed that signal an Allen Bradley (www.rockwellautomation.com) PLC to automatically adjust for differing case sizes. In addition, the system's 3-stage operation first separates cases from a flooded line with automatic gating mechanism, then folds all four top flaps, and finally seals the top and bottom at a rate up to 20 cases per minute.

Purchasing all of this equipment enabled Custom Solutions to improve production speeds by anywhere from 200 to 300 percent, depending on the product. Flexibility also increased because thick and thin soaps are now able to run on the same line, and changeover time has been reduced dramatically. In addition, the new equipment increased the company's fill accuracy. Product loss decreased from 3 percent to less than 1 percent. In short, Custom Solutions was able to enhance its overall product quality while significantly growing profitability.

"It's simple: To be successful in the retail market, you have to have high-quality products and be cost-competitive, which requires high volumes," says Glasscock. "We wouldn't have been able to compete in the retail market without the new lines we installed with the technology discovered at PACK EXPO Las Vegas."

After such a successful experience at the last show, Glasscock looks forward to returning to PACK EXPO Las Vegas this September. "We're looking for some palletizing equipment that will help us improve the back end of our production line and further reduce costs," says Glasscock. "I look forward to going back and seeing what new technologies have been developed, and to look for trends that may affect our business."

For more information about PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2005, visit www.packexpo.com or contact PMMI at 703/243-8555; Email: [email protected].

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