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Wrapper shifts into high gear

Competition Cams, Inc. (CC), Memphis, TN, designs and manufactures high-performance components for automobile and motor cycle engines. Their components cover everything from original equipment replacement to full racing engines and include cam shafts, lifters, valve springs, timing sets, and other supporting items. The company works closely with major manufacturers to develop these components and, during PD’s visit, it had a number of engines mounted on stands for testing, ranging from street performance to NASCAR engines.

The wrapper can run at a maximum speed of 100 ft/min, and a sensor adjusts its speed to handle the number of cartons that are entering. A roll of film is mounted beside the machine and enters at a right angle to the direction of carton travel. It travels over an inverting head that changes its direction 90 deg to coincide with the cartons. The film on the roll is folded in the center, so that after the direction change, one half travels beneath the cartons, while the other half moves over the tops of the cartons.


CC was using an old wrapping system for its cartons and was manually logging identification tags for each product into its inventory system. With more than 20,000 different products, the process was slow and inefficient in terms of labor and inventory processing. It wanted to upgrade these operations, and in 2006, CC approached Turnkey Packaging, Inc. (www.turnkeypackaging.com) to develop a system to meet its needs. “We’ve had a long relationship with Turnkey Packaging, so they were the logical place for me to start,” says CC’s systems engineer Pat Matracea. Turnkey developed a system that features a Model 2202 automatic side-seal shrink wrapper and tunnel from Texwrap (www.texwrap.com), fed by a Slip-Torque® conveyor from Shuttleworth (www.shuttleworth.com). Shuttleworth also supplied an outfeed conveyor that is equipped with an electronic eye to automatically read the bar codes on the packages to inventory-management software. CC runs cartons ranging in size from about 4x2½x2-in. for a small part to 25x10x5-in. for a kit that contains a camshaft, lifters, and other components, so a key requirement of this system was the ability to run a wide range of carton sizes. “Texwrap had all the features we wanted, and their 'bang for the buck’ was the best on the market at the time,” says Matracea. To start the operation, a worker manually places cartons on the Shuttleworth infeed conveyor, which has three sections that can run at different speeds. Sensors at each section detect the presence of cartons and adjust the speed to maintain a uniform spacing of the cartons as they enter the wrapper. Shuttleworth’s Slip-Torque technology is based on polished stainless-steel shafts that are covered with segmented, loose-fitting rollers that become the conveyor surface. The weight of the product being conveyed, combined with the coefficient of friction between the shafts and the inside diameter of the rollers, provides the drivingforce that conveys the product. As the weight of the product increases, there is a corresponding increase in the driving force supplied. When products stop, the segmented rollers beneath them also stop, although the shafts keep turning. This creates very low backpressure accumulation and minimizes product damage. “We really like the Shuttleworth conveyors,” says Matracea. “They do a better job than anything else out there.”

The Texwrap wrapper can run at a maximum speed of 100 ft/min, and a sensor adjusts its speed to handle the number of cartons that are entering up to that limit. The cartons enter the wrapper single file and are picked up by a conveyor that transports them through the wrapping section. A roll of film is mounted beside the machine and enters at a right angle to the direction of carton travel. It travels over an inverting head that changes its direction 90 deg to coincide with the boxes. The film on the roll is folded in the center, so that after the direction change, one half travels beneath the cartons, while the other half moves over the tops of the cartons.

Cartons leaving the shrink tunnel pass beneath a reader that scans the bar codes on the end of the carton and on a label that is applied to the top of the carton.

The side where the fold is located does not require sealing, so only the other side needs to be sealed. After side sealing, the cartons travel through a reciprocating hot-wire end seal that simultaneously seals the film over the ends of the cartons and cuts the film so the cartons are separated. The containers then travel through a hot-air tunnel that shrinks the film tightly around them. The wrapper can also run flat film if CC decides it wants to do that.

CC is running a multilayer, polypropylene-based film from Bollore Inc. (www.bolloreinc.com) that has a high percentage of free shrink. It shrinks more at lower temperatures than most films and this helps CC to get wrinkle-free packages. The film also is very slippery, which helps with packoff and merchandising, where the packages have to be able to slide over each other. Turnkey is a distributor for Bollore and supplies the film to CC.

The shrink wrapper incorporates a programmable logic controller and an operator touchscreen from Rockwell Automation (www.rockwellautomation.com). The operator enters all setup and operating parameters for each carton, such as bar codes, sealing temperatures, operating speeds, package size and film length, and can then recall them when next running that carton by entering the product number. The control will hold 999 menu codes. The control also gives error notices to the operator.

The shrink wrapper incorporates a programmable logic controller and a touchscreen where the operator enters all setup and operating parameters.

Cartons leaving the shrink tunnel pass beneath a reader that reads the bar codes on the end of the carton and on a label that is applied to the top of the carton to ensure that both codes are the same and that they agree with the code of the carton that the wrapper control says is being run. The system also keeps track of the amount of film that has been used and transmits this data to the company mainframe. CC also has a project that will tie this data into its inventory-control system so it can track everything electronically.

“Turnkey Packaging is a Texwrap distributor and the two companies did a great job for us,” says Maracea. “They took some of our products up to Texwrap and ran them on the machine before they installed it here, and it started up without any problems. The wrapper is virtually maintenance free, so it’s very easy to operate, and the appearance of the wrapped cartons is excellent. It’s a high-performance wrapper for a high-performance company.”


More information is available:
Bollore Inc., 860 774-7431.www.bolloreinc.com. Rockwell Automation, 414/382-2000. www.rockwellautomation.com. Shuttleworth, 800/444-7412.www.shuttleworth.com.
Texwrap, 800/886-7421. www.texwrap.com. Turnkey Packaging, Inc., 901/522-0080. www.turnkeypackaging.com.  
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