Endoline ‘shakes it up’ to meet factory space constraints for shelf ready milkshake packing line

Automating the packing of a new line of milkshakes for a leading supermarket chain has enabled Tomlinson Dairies to meet the high level of output required and the shelf ready packaging (SRP) expectations of the retailer.

The fully automated line, which packs over 80 bottles of milkshake a minute, was supplied by Endoline Machinery. Constructed out of stainless steel to protect the equipment, as it was installed in a bottle filling production area, the line was designed with a very compact footprint to meet space constraints.

Established 30 years ago, family run business Tomlinson Dairies today supplies 200 million litres of milk each year across the UK from its North Wales site. When the company moved to larger premises in 2012 their capacity to produce more milk grew, allowing them to take on more business and when approached by a leading supermarket chain in 2015 to produce and pack milkshake, Tomlinson Dairies immediately sought to automate the process. Stephen Landen, Tomlinson Dairy’s Engineering Manager, said: “We had to look at ways to automate the packing line as the production demands could no longer be met by the manual operation.”

With the milkshake operation situated within the busy packing hall, Endoline needed to design and construct the entire automated line within a constricted 5m x 3m space. Mark Budd, Areas Sales Manager for Endoline, comments: “Lack of available space was the biggest challenge along with designing the conveying and pack stations to meet the demands of production while giving the operators the best ergonomic solution.”

To form the cases Endoline installed its fully automatic 228 high speed case erector, which is specifically designed to handle shelf ready cases by gluing the bottom of each case as it is formed. “With shelf ready packs the use of glue is essential as otherwise the tape can interfere with the functionality of the cases at the retailers.” Mark explains. As the SRP cases are put straight onto the shelf, presentation is paramount and any tears could result in wastage or penalties from retails. To overcome this Endoline integrated its dual opposing vacuum technology into the 228 to apply an equal amount of pressure to each side of the pre-formed case at exactly the same time ensuring it is positively opened and perfectly square without affecting the integrity of the case.

Constructed to a compact footprint, with a top loading hopper, the 228 also ticked the space box for Tomlinson Dairies.

Once formed the cases run from the 228 onto a powered roller, which was constructed with a 90 degree bend to fit into the space, to a packing station. From there, a powered conveyor runs the filled bottles through to two, ergonomically friendly packing stations which are situated at the point where the conveyor, carrying the formed cases, meets the conveyor carrying the bottles. Here, two operators manually pack the cases.

With bottles of either 330ml or 1 litre, there are two case sizes and changeover is quick and efficient due to the user friendly design and simple adjustment of the 228 case erector.

The filled cases are put onto a conveyor that feeds through to an Endoline fully-automatic case sealer which folds and tapes the top of the case and accumulates them ready for palletising. Stephen comments: “The new packing line has streamlined our packing operation and allowed the business to further increase output without the need for more investment or additional labour.”

Endoline puts Ballygarvey on the map with state of the art packing plant

A unique, new end of line system, designed to handle random case sizes, has boosted a case packing line within a leading UK egg producer’s new state of the art egg packing plant.

For over 40 years family run Ballygarvey Eggs has been packing and supplying free range and intensive eggs fresh from laying farms around their base in Northern Ireland. Today, with flocks totalling 840,000 birds, Ballygarvey are annually supplying 250 million eggs in a 60/40 split to supermarkets and foodservice customers respectively – throughout the UK and Ireland.  Faced with this growth Ballygarvey realised that their original packing plant, which was manually operated, could not sustain the volume of output required.  “The company is continually expanding so we designed and built a new packing plant just 5k away from the original unit.” Explains Mark Davison, Managing Director of Ballygarvey Eggs, “While this site would remain manual handling small volume lines we wanted the new site to be a fully automation state of the art egg packing plant to deal with the number of variations in packs for our larger customers.”

With 25 different configurations of egg boxes Ballygarvey needed an automated line which was reliable, high speed and, above all, flexible to deal with the changing demands from supermarkets.  Following global demand for its 744 fully automatic random case sealer, Endoline designed and built RACE – a random automatic case erecting system to boost their SMART machinery portfolio and meet the needs of Ballygarvey.

Designed with dual opposing hoppers RACE not only allows for different sized cases to be run at any one time but downtime is eliminated as one hopper can be re-loaded with cases while the other side continues to operate.  Capable of feeding up to three packing lines at any one time RACE also incorporates Endoline’s unique dual opposing vacuum technology, which ensures each case is opened positively to overcome any tearing.

Andrew Yates, Endoline’s Sales Director explains: “Two different case sizes can be run on the RACE system at any one time so each hopper is loaded with cases – one size per side – and during the packing operation a sensor, fitted to the packing line conveyor, will communicate which case size is required. The RACE then automatically adjusts itself to form the case required and send it down the relevant line – all of this can be completed at a speed of up to 14 cases per minute.  Significantly the time it takes to change or load more cases into a hopper are eliminated as, while one hopper is re-loaded, the other hopper can still be in operation.”

Once all the eggs, within the new Ballygarvey site, are checked and graded, and packed into egg boxes via Moba systems they are run through one of two packing line types. One is low speed manual operation with workers manually erecting outer boxes and filling them, via six packing lines with egg boxes. The second line features RACE which feeds formed outer boxes to a further six packing lines, which are operated by robots.  However once all the cases of eggs are filled at the 12 packing lines they all feed into the Endoline 744 fully automatic case sealer – at a rate of 126,000 eggs per hour.

“Our new facility is the high-spec packaging plant I envisaged and it offers Ballygarvey scope for future growth.  While all of the systems have contributed towards this the new Endoline RACE machine is has been a significant contribution and, for a brand new design, it has not missed a beat.” Mark concludes.