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Standard-Knapp has introduced a continuous-motion multi-packer that reduces packaging waste and provides flexibility for co-packers.

The Tritium Multipacker uses single-, double- and triple-lane configurations to arrange products in compact patterns for wrapping in film.

The multi-packer’s patented Robowand wrapping feature can be positioned at any point in space above the conveyor and moved to exactly the right place to package a particular desired pack pattern.

With an infinite number of paths, the Robowand can be programmed to deal with packages of any size, resulting in shorter changeover times and no changeover of parts.

It works at varying speeds and provides wrapping that is tighter and more exact than earlier models.

It reduces packaging material consumption by eliminating the need for trays and pads.

The Tritium Multipacker also has a lower carbon footprint than other systems thanks to its energy-efficient heat tunnel, according to the company.

After products are wrapped using the Robowand, they are sent through the tunnel, which shrinks the film around each multi-pack, ensuring a consistent, wrinkle-free bull’s eye and bottom seal.

The machine can run fully registered advertising onto the outside printed plastic label.

Standard-Knapp programs the Robowand for the optimal pack pattern for each product being packaged.

It is said to be simple to align and initial setup is relatively straightforward.

After setup, no mechanical adjustment is necessary – the program takes care of everything.

If new products are added, a simple programming adjustment can be made.

Nothing needs to be removed as a change part to move from one size to another.

For example, with other machines, if a customer had a run of short bottles followed by taller ones, he or she would have to call the manufacturer and order a change part and take time to adjust the machine.

With the Robowand, the operator would use a touch screen to change the program to the profile for the taller bottle.

Changeover can be accomplished by hitting one button, reducing the need for as many people on the floor adjusting the machines.

There are still mechanical changeover points, although they have been reduced.

Owing to the location of the Robowand above the conveyor, products can be wrapped more quickly, efficiently and precisely.

No cardboard, tray or pad is required – a benefit to those seeking to reduce packaging waste.

Warehouse and discount stores frequently use multi-item promotions to increase sales volumes and packagers need to be able to respond easily to pack pattern changes.

For example, if a customer decides to offer a special discount on a three-pack of soup, the equipment has to be able to wrap the new pack pattern and get it to the selling floor quickly.

If the next promotion is on cans a few inches taller, they must be able to quickly and easily switch over to the new pattern.

With the Robowand feature, this type of quick changeover is straightforward.

Printed or registered film can be used to wrap each multi-pack to promote the cost-saving multi-pack purchase.

The translucent film provides a larger area for product information and allows retailers to stock their shelves faster and with less waste.

Another benefit of a programmable wand is its ability to wrap precisely, thereby reducing the forces that tend to distort a product.

If the product can be placed on the conveyor and wrapped with a controlled and gentle movement, even if the conveyor is run faster, the product will not be subject to forces that can cause distortions.

If the product is moving forward at constant speed, the Robowand perfect profile puts no extra forces on the product, no matter how fast it is run.

While this may not be an important factor in wrapping squat and stable aluminium soup cans, it is ideal when wrapping tall, slender plastic water bottles.

When combined with Standard-Knapp’s Zero Gap II technology, which maintains constant low-line pressure, the product is disturbed even less.

Changing from packaging one product to another is particularly difficult for co-packers, who may find themselves changing runs as frequently as every half an hour with different products.

Traditional packing systems require an operator associated with each machine used to pack, label and then palletise products.

During changeover, each one of these machines would stop, resulting in time and manpower costs.

For example, if a machine running 240 six-packs of soup is down for even five minutes for a changeover, 1,200 six-packs will not get packaged, with a resulting need to increase the labour shift to produce the desired quantity.

According to Standard-Knapp, companies do not want to hire operators that only know how to run a single machine, nor can they absorb the labour costs associated with changeover downtime.

Instead, they typically look for a system that can be run, maintained and fixed by a single worker – and one in which changeover can be accomplished quickly and easily.

The modularly constructed, stainless-steel Tritium Multipacker comes equipped with easy-access ‘gull-wing’ guard doors.

These transparent, safety-interlock guard doors provide a clear view of all moving belts and chains, enabling ‘walk-by maintenance’ by maintenance personnel.

To facilitate machine maintenance, many steel chains have been replaced with timing belts that do not require lubrication and that create a quieter machine.

The Tritium Multipacker’s operator interface uses colour touch-screen technology.

Through computer-aided fault recovery, the operator interface reduces the meantime to recover (MTR) and increases efficiency, according to the company.

Once programmed for a particular product and pack pattern, the Robowand electronically sets itself, beginning the wrap pattern.

Customers can go from a four-pack to an eight-pack in a matter of minutes rather than hours.

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