Jack Mans, Plant Operations Editor

January 29, 2014

4 Min Read
Fill 'er up

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Intermittent-motion rotary filler, above, handles two pouches simultaneously throughout its operation. Vacuum cups pull the pouches open, while grippers move toward each other to open the pouches, above right. In addition, conical plastic inserts descend momentarily into the pouches and discharge jets of air to ensure the tops are open.

Chicago Coffee Roastery, Inc., Huntley, IL, was founded in 1990 to deliver top-quality coffee beans fast and fresh. Today, the company supplies a wide variety of coffee, under both its own brand names and as a copacker, in 1-lb and 11-oz bags, as well as in 1.5-oz pouches sufficient to brew a single 10- to 12-cup pot. The newest product category for the company is specialty cocoa mixes, which are packaged in 1.25-oz pouches.

To meet increased production requirements and increased product categories, last year Chicago Coffee Roastery installed a new rotary filler/sealer from MFG, Inc. to run the pouches of both coffee and cocoa. The machine runs preformed polyethylene pouches from Technipaq made with a folded bottom, sealed sides and an open top. The film for the pouches, which is supplied by Belmark, Inc., consists of 48-ga PE that is reverse-printed and laminated to 48-ga metallized PE. This is, in turn, laminated to a 2-mil linear low-density polyethylene sealant layer.

"The new filler increases our copacking capabilities and opens up opportunities to branch out into other dry products," says plant manager Brian Gosell. "When we started in this business, we had trouble finding companies willing to run the small quantities we needed. We see a real niche serving companies that need someone who can handle short runs and/or small volumes."

The intermittent-motion machine, which is rated at 60 pouches/min, handles two pouches simultaneously throughout its operation. The pouches are delivered on conveyors from magazines to a pick-and-place unit that picks up two pouches with vacuum cups and rotates 90 degrees to a vertical configuration, where grippers grasp both sides of the pouches. At the next station, vacuum cups pull the pouches open, while the grippers move toward each other. In addition, conical plastic inserts descend momentarily into the pouches and discharge jets of air to ensure the tops are open.

Next, the pouches are conveyed beneath a dual-auger filler (from a common hopper) supplied by Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery. Sensors ahead of this unit detect if a bag is missing or if a bag is not open, and disable the auger for that particular pouch location. Each filler incorporates a servo drive from Bosch Rexroth that enables the operator to set the acceleration and deceleration of the auger rotation as well as the final filling position to achieve optimum accuracy.

As the next cycle commences, the grippers move apart to pull the tops closed, and the pouches travel to a heat station where the tops are conduction-sealed shut. This is followed by a cooling station where steel jaws at ambient temperature remove heat to ensure optimum sealing. At the last station on the machine, the fingers release and drop the pouches. This station also includes a system that punches holes in the tops of the pouches before they are released.

In its dual-pouch configuration, the machine can run pouches up to 4.5 in. wide, and the width can be doubled by running a one-up configuration. With minor adjustments, the machine can also run gusseted pouches, and it includes controls for the future installation of a zipper attachment. Chicago Coffee Roastery built a separate room in its plant for the new machine.

151904-0302chicago4.jpg "The MFG filler/sealer has done a great job for us. It's very easy to operate, and there's practically no product waste," says Gosell. "It's a dream come true."

More information is available:

Filler/sealer: MFG, Inc., 262/652-3336. Circle No. 201.

Pouches: Technipaq, 815/477-1800. Circle No. 202.

Film: Belmark, Inc., 800/367-4536. Circle No. 203.

Filler: Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery, 414/886-4402. Circle No. 204.

Servo: Bosch Rexroth, 847/645-3749. Circle No. 205.

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Grippers control pouches throughout the operation, top. Pouch tops are conduction-sealed shut, after which steel jaws at ambient temperature remove heat to ensure optimum sealing, above bottom.

About the Author(s)

Jack Mans

Plant Operations Editor

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