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Web Extra - Full filling line evolves

When value-brand deodorant and antiperspirant marketer A.P. Deauville set up shop in 2002 in its 22,000-sq-ft headquarters, it began with an empty facility that it quickly populated with equipment for processing, filling and packaging.

The plant's compounding area consists of an air compressor, a boiler and a chiller, along with two bulk storage tanks. One tank holds the polypropylene glycol used for the deodorants, while the other holds silicon for the antiperspirants.

Product ingredients are prepared in four jacketed tanks, each of which holds enough product to fill approximately 16,000 2-oz containers. Hot product is pumped from the tanks to a 20-head gravity filler, designed by A.P. Deauville.

Stanley says that the knowledge used to design the filling equipment was obtained from running a hot-fill system at USA Detergents. "We had run candles at USA Detergents with a hot-fill system, and we knew that we had to do a hot fill here. We wanted to build something similar to that, running at 60,000 units per shift," he says. "It's not a name-brand filler, so we probably got it for about half the cost."

The process begins when the primary packages are manually loaded into pucks. A.P. Deauville uses standard-shaped deodorant/antiperspirant barrels made from high-density polyethylene in 1.7-, 2- and 2.5-oz sizes, colored blue for the lady's products and black for men's. The men's top-fill barrel is molded by Precise Technology (www.precisetech.com), while the lady's is from The Plastek Group (www.mastermold.com). The Men's Power Stick deodorant body sprays, available in 2.8-oz aerosols, are produced for A.P. Deauville by a copacker. In all, the company offers 30 stockkeeping units.

During filling, pucked barrels are manually fed from the conveyor to a pusher on the filling machine, which, when triggered by a photoeye, slides them 20 at a time into the filler. Product is filled into the barrels in liquid form at 145 deg F. Next, the product is solidified as it moves through a 40-deg-F cooling chamber that uses two five-ton air conditioners to bring product temperature down to 91 deg F.

At the machine discharge, an operator does a quality check. According to Stanley, 99.9 percent of the barrels that exit the cooling chamber are ready to be conveyed to the next step in the process—capping. During capping, caps are fed from a Hoppmann (www.hoppmann.com) centrifugal prefeeder and feed to a rotary capper and to a shoot to be capped. Capped containers are then conveyed through a depucker that removes them from the pucks, which are then manually filled again with empty barrels.

Filled, capped products continue on a conveyor past a CVC 400 series labeler from CVC Technologies (www.cvcusa.com) that applies a front and back label, as well as prints a batch code. The machine operates at approximately 120 barrels/min, applying preprinted labels supplied by Yerecic Label (www.yereciclabel.com). Next, a CTM 360 Series spot labeler from CTM Integration (www.ctmint.com) applies special-promotion stickers on 2.5-oz barrels, when required.

After labeling, the products are conveyed to a PMI (Packaging Machines International) (www.pmi-intl.com) Model GRC-25 multipacker with a shrink tunnel that groups the product in six-packs, which are film-wrapped and sealed in the companion heat tunnel. According to Stanley, before A.P. Deauville purchased the PMI equipment in 2003, they were using corrugated inserts within the cases to group products. Shrink-wrapping ht the products has resulted in a substantial cost savings. "The PMI equipment paid for itself within eight months, and it does a really nice package," Stanley says.

Shrink-wrapped six-packs are then carried by conveyor to an operator, who manually packs them into shipping cases. The cases are erected several feet away by an O/K Durable case erector from O/K Intl. (www.okcorp.com) and are conveyed to the packing area. Manually filled cases then pass by a single-line, large-character ink-jet printer that applies a batch code, after which they receive the bar code and other information from Adolph Gottscho's (www.gottscho.com) GOTTJET coder. The last operation on the line is case taping, accomplished with an O/K Intl. case sealer.

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