Endoline’s automated solution whips up efficiency for ice cream maker

Automating the packing process of their award winning ice-cream range with Endoline Machinery, has enabled Marshfield Farm to improve production efficiency and dramatically decrease customer lead times, while packing 30,000 litres of ice cream per day.

Family run Marshfield Farm, which is now in it’s 30th year, produces over 30 flavours of ice cream at its Wiltshire based, 1,100 acre organic farm, which is home to 250 dairy cows.

Once the ice cream is made, it is put straight into blast freezers overnight. The following day, the ice cream is packed into either 5 litre or 4 litre outer boxes, outer cases are erected, the tubs packed within them, before being sealed and shipped to over 6,000 independent retailers across the UK.

However, this process was traditionally manual and, due to retail demand for the 5 litre tubs to be packed into individual cases for easier storage, the process of packing was lengthy. Due to the frozen nature of the ice cream, it meant lead times were often longer as the packers could only manage small batch runs. “The packing time was variable when completed manually and, due to the nature of ice cream, we ran the risk of the product melting in the small window we had.” Comments Marshfield Farm owner, Will Hawking. “In addition, when manually erected and sealed, the cases were not always uniform, which left the product vulnerable further down the supply chain, and in transit to the customer.”

Realising the potential efficiency gains he could make by automating the packing process, Will contacted Endoline Machinery, who are specialists in end of line systems.

In June 2017, Endoline installed a semi-automated fully integrated line within Marshfield Farm, incorporating its 221 Fully Automatic Case Erector, conveyor systems, stainless steel packing tables, its 702 Fully Automatic Case Sealer and a Markem Imaje labeller.

Today, once the tubs of ice cream are taken from the blast freezer, the entire packing process takes just 15 seconds, a reduction in time by over 80%.

Once the cases are formed via the 221, they are transported via a powered belt conveyor to the packing stations where cages holding the product are delivered. As two manual workers are filling the cases, Endoline fitted the conveyor to an ergonomically friendly height for ease of use. The filled cases are then pushed on to a powered roller infeed conveyor to be automatically closed, and the top sealed by the 702 case sealer. Before being manually palletised, the sealed cases are run through a fully integrated print and labeller printer.

Marshfield Farm packs the ice cream in two different case sizes, one for the 5 litre tubs, and a second case size for six, 4 litre ice cream tubs.  According to Will, the process of changing the case sizes is simple and doesn’t cause any downtime.

“Automating the packing process has significantly increased our production efficiency and sped up delivery times considerably.” Will concludes. “At it’s maximum speed we are now packing 15 cases a minute, which will enable us to grow the business in the future.”

PPMA SHOW 2018 – Endoline re-engineers flagship random sealer to meet manufacturer case challenges

In response to manufacturer calls for flexible, future proof, end-of-line machinery, Endoline will unveil, at the forthcoming PPMA Show (Stand C52), its re-engineered 704 Fully Automatic Random Case Sealer, which can now manage an unprecedented range of case styles and sizes, meeting all current health and safety regulations.

Since its creation in the early 90’s, the 704 Fully Automatic Random Case Sealer has become a flagship system amongst Endoline’s range of end-of-line machines. In situ within food factories globally for almost 30 years, the machine is testament to Endoline’s ability to build high quality, long lasting, systems.

However, following unprecedented demand for random case sealers to manage a greater variety of case materials and sizes, Endoline has re-engineered the 704 to meet exact specifications.

Through technical enhancements Endoline have expanded the case size range by almost 60% at its greatest increase, without compromising on speed.

In addition to a greater range of case sizes, manufacturers are now packing with a wider variety of case materials to suit retail specifications, from poorly scored, lightweight cases, to heavy, twin wall cases.

To meet this challenge, Endoline have integrated a dual action hook into the re-engineered 704 to provide greater control, ensuring that the inner flaps of the case are effectively pushed into place before sealing, which overcomes tearing or the risk of the case opening at a later stage. For lighter weight cases, which are susceptible to tearing or crushing when running through a system at speed, the 704 now features side bars and a fully driven infeed with blade stop. This is automatically activated after a case passes the barcode reader to police the throughput of cases, ensuring there is a suitable gap between each, and safeguarding the consistent flow of cases into the machine.

The new infeed control also allows for greater speed control of the 704, which can now typically seal up to 14 random sized cases per minute.

“Manufacturers are increasingly pushing to automate their end-of-line production facilities, and they are facing mounting pressure from retailers to pack products into different packaging formats, and styles, to keep up with specific customer demands.” Comments Andrew Yates, Sales Director at Endoline Machinery. “Consequently, we have witnessed greater demand for systems which offer flexibility, as companies look to future proof their automation investment. To this end, random, high speed, end-of-line systems have become more sought after, and we have engineered our successful 704 to meet all of these current, high standards.”

Integrated with Endoline’s new Industry 4.0 compatible, icon based, HMI interface, the 704 is built to a smaller footprint than previous models, maximising factory floor space and features additional safety equipment to meet all current health and safety standards.

To view the 704 Fully Automatic Random Case Sealer, and other machines from Endoline’s system range, visit Stand C52 at the forthcoming PPMA Show.

Electric systems takes the pressure off pneumatics

It’s an exercise in over-simplification to say pneumatic systems are the best choice for providing lower cost equipment and speed, while a servo driven system is best for high speed and positioning accuracy. The trade-offs are many, including cost of ownership, access to air supply, speed requirements and operating environment.

Once an application is defined, specifications need to be considered, including weight, size, speed, and the requirements for acceleration/deceleration and positioning.  However, while all of these points are important there are two underlining factors which will determine whether a manufacturer will choose a pneumatic or electric end of line machine – power requirements and speed.

Complex cases calls for all-electric

If there is any significant performance differentiator, it is that servo driven systems are better understood for their high levels of repeatable speed and precision. With the growing demand for more complex applications, in particular contract packers and FMCG manufacturers who manage a range of different product case sizes and types to meet retailer demands, electric servo driven systems can provide greater versatility within this fast changing production environment. The ability to reach higher speeds is achievable with electric servo driven systems in comparison to pneumatic machines. Pushing pneumatic systems to higher speeds can also have a detrimental effect on the reliability of a machine resulting in excessive component wear and failure. A typical advantage of using servo driven systems is that they allow for dynamic changes to be made in velocity of fast moving sub-assemblies and allow them to be fine-tuned to suit particular applications, such as high volume snacks manufacturers who pack a range and variety of case sizes to suit customer demand, this is not simply achievable with pneumatic systems.

All-Electric systems are integrated with high reliability servo drives that can achieve speeds of more than 30 random case sizes per minute – ticking the flexibility box. Increasingly sought after by global snack and drinks companies, the all-electric, servo driven systems are running 24/7 and, crucially, require little manual adjustment. While allowing for higher levels of precision the introduction of servo drives gives machine builders the ability to make SMART systems – meeting the increasingly demanding requests from busy production halls.

A tried and tested solution

The earliest pneumatic machines date back to the post-war era and are conceivably the more economical choice. Pneumatic actuators generate precise linear motion, providing accuracy and repeatability offering simplicity to manufacturers who are seeking to automate a single sized case run.

Along with continuity, pneumatic systems are often more suited to packing scenarios within extreme temperature environments. From packing bags of ice cubes or tubs of fresh produce in a chilled environment. The availability of spare parts is simplified with pneumatic systems too as stocking spares is easier and delivery is immediate, while servos can take time. This is, however, improving as is the training of on-site engineers as a whole new skill set is required in the upkeep of servo driven systems.

There are many strong arguments that can be made for both all-electric and pneumatic systems in helping manufacturers achieve a smaller carbon footprint. While pneumatics can cut down on energy consumption, due to the lack of electrical hook up, all-electric machines can reduce noise emissions, and only use energy when required.

Over recent years, manufactures have significantly increased their investment in end-of-line automation. And these companies are now looking to extract every ounce of reliability and efficiency out of these turnkey lines, ensuring they deliver top performance at the lowest possible cost and need to make a well informed decision before opting for either a pnuematic or servo driven system.