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.

Endoline upgrades flagship sealer to help manufacturers meet efficiency goals

In a direct bid to offer customers greater energy efficiency, Endoline Machinery have re-engineered one of its flagship random case sealers with a linear actuator system, reducing air consumption, which could ultimately reduce running costs and significantly cut a manufacturer’s carbon footprint and noise emission.

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.

Continually evaluating every component of its systems, Endoline replaced pneumatic components on its 734 high speed random case sealer with servo driven linear actuators to reduce pneumatic supply demands. “In its old format, the 734 could consume up to 390 litres of air per minute.” Explains Keith Habben, Engineering Manager at Endoline Machinery. “When the system was first launched in 2003, it was commonly installed as a stand-alone machine. However, with manufacturers now integrating other systems to create fully turnkey lines, the requirements for overall air consumption can significantly increase and consequently, air supply and noise levels will also rise.”

Commonly driven by motors, pneumatic compressors need to run continually, consuming energy and air even when the machine is stationery. When additional machinery is added to the line, also requiring air, the pressure fluctuations can also have a detrimental effect on reliability and efficiency of the whole production line. By replacing the core pneumatic components on its 734 with the servo driven linear actuators, Endoline are set to help manufacturers reduce running costs and noise emissions significantly.

Installed within almost 100 factories globally, the high speed, fully automatic, 734 sealer can seal up to 20 random cases per minute, and is a widely respected addition to many automated lines on a snack food manufacturer’s factory floor.

Endoline upgraded a 734 machine on site at Bird Bros, a national distributor of eggs, 12 months ago in a bid to improve performance and record the improvements to line efficiency. With a weekly output of 3 million eggs, Bird Bros installed a state-of-the-art, fully automated production line several years ago with Endoline, and were welcome ‘guinea pigs’ to Endoline’s innovation.

“Since the 734 was upgraded, demand on air has reduced considerably, we have removed three air cylinders, which has made a dramatic improvement to noise emissions.”  Comments Joe Fox, Packing Centre Engineer at Bird Bros.

Endoline can upgrade all existing customers 734 machines to this new system.

 

Blog post – Automation Stepping Stones for SME’s

According to recent reports, confidence amongst UK SME’s has grown in the first quarter of the year, with a third expecting performance to improve even further in the next three months, and over 50% planning to expand their operations.*

SMEs are a large and integral part of the UK’s economy, with over 99% of all of Britain’s private sector businesses classified as small or medium.** And, by 2020, SME contributions to the UK economy is expected to reach £217 billion.

As enthusiast adopters of new technology, SME’s are more willing to embrace change than their Blue Chip company counterparts and, in a bid to maximise efficiency and production output, they are moving away from labour intensive repetitive tasks and automating manufacturing processes to aid business development.

That first step into automation can be a giant leap, but here are key steps SME’s should take when automating their production facility for the first time:

Get flexible…….

As a small company you may have to adapt your business several times to meet growing demand, so you may question investing in automation in case the system becomes obsolete within a couple of years. Wrong. Any credible automation supplier will offer an adaptable solution to future proof your investment. Today many machines can be upgraded or retro-fitted with new technology to suit future requirements. Also, portability is important. As you grow you may look to upgrade your premises so make sure that your automated system is easy to move.

Where’s the payback?

For most, if not all SME’s, the return on investment (ROI) figures can be a real deal breaker. However with careful planning, a 12-month ROI is attainable. A well thought out automated system can quickly turn an inefficient labour intensive operation into a cost effective, high output production line. Only go for what you need – you don’t necessarily need a system with bells and whistles but look for those that can suit the changing needs of your business. A quality provider of automation will help you calculate the best solution for you based on your existing costs.

Ease of use…..

Any downtime on production can have a detrimental effect on any business. So it is vital that you hold essential spare parts and have the ability to re-program the system quickly if required so your production runs smoothly. If you have to rely on resources outside of your business you run the risk of a gap in production, which can have a direct impact on your profitability so speak to your provider for regular on-site training and support packages.

Become leaner…..

There is much debate around automation and lean, but SME’s should put the myths to bed and focus on solutions. Implementing lean into manufacturing environments means that it really is an approach to solving manufacturing problems, and if the best solution to a particular problem involves automation, then that makes automation lean. Ultimately it’s about reducing errors and defects, and error-proofing. Finding the right level of automation can enhance your lean initiatives in previously unconsidered ways, for instance, giving you new ways to reduce wasted time, wasted energy, and wasted effort when used in the right applications.

Don’t run before you can walk…

An age old saying, but when a company decides to automate they often feel that unless they have thousands of £££’s to spend fully automating their packaging line then they might as well not bother. However, automation can be built up slowly. Rather than replacing your workforce with a fully automated line ease your company into the concept – while keeping labour involved to work on the new, more productive packaging line.

Use a reputable company…………

If in doubt many people turn to the internet, we have even known first time buyers purchase automation equipment from eBay. However, if something goes wrong with that system you will find it difficult to purchase spare parts or find a reputable engineer to fix the problem. Purchase an automated system from a quality supplier, and don’t be put off if they work with bigger companies, chances are, they will offer less technical systems for a lower price but for the same quality.

With the intelligence of machines improving vastly, now is the time to seriously consider investing in automated systems to make your production more efficient. The National Living Wage increase will affect SME’s most keenly, however, by automating labour intensive tasks they can streamline their workforce and employ people to work on growing the business rather than working on labour intensive tasks. Couple this with the fact that the Annual Investment Allowance is still set at £200k – where SME’s can make tax deductible investments on automation – and it’s not a case of if you decide to automate but when.

Endoline will be able to discuss the right approach for your end of line packaging requirement, please contact us.

*https://economia.icaew.com/en/news/march-2018/confidence-rises-among-uk-smes

**https://www.fsb.org.uk/media-centre/small-business-statistics

Fresh food SME doubles output with first time automation

An SME producing fresh vegetarian foods doubled its capacity after semi-automating its production facility with Endoline Machinery.  Putting automation down to ‘simple arithmetic’ the owner of Ramona’s Kitchen – which churns out 50 tonnes of Mediterranean inspired produce a month – achieved a return on her investment within 12 months, and is encouraging other SME’s to jump on the automation bandwagon.

Business owner Ramona Hazan established Ramona’s Kitchen 13 years ago and, in addition to producing fresh foods, including falafel and houmous, for wholesalers and food service companies, produces the ‘Me Too!’ range of dips and salads for the UK’s leading supermarkets.  A family run business, Ramona’s Kitchen employs 8 people at its North London based factory.

“All of our products are freshly prepared daily and a lot of hands are needed in the kitchen.” Explains Ramona, “However up to 2 workers were spending a full 8 hour shift just forming boxes ready for filling – which was an inefficient use of time and a bottleneck in our production.” Once formed the boxes were stacked in a corner, however this also came with problems as the boxes were often damaged with the potential for dust settling, a frequent issue with pre-erected cases. It was at this point Ramona concluded that automating the erecting and sealing of boxes was a ‘no brainer’.

After researching different companies, Ramona commissioned Endoline Machinery to install a semi-automatic case erector and sealer due to, according to Ramona, their “service offering and ability to meet my needs exactly.” The line helped Ramona’s Kitchen double its capacity, with just one or two workers manning the entire packing line.  The produce is made within a high care room and immediately run, via a conveyor belt, out to a packing station. Here, a manual worker forms the cases on a case former which automatically folds the lower flaps and securely holds the open case to allow packing to take place. The filled boxes are then pushed by the operator, straight through the Endoline case sealer which simultaneously tapes both the bottom and the top of the box before being pushed through to a second high care storage room, ready for delivery. All of this is achieved within just one minute.

The production line is consistently flowing, with box damage eliminated – with a daily output of 500 boxes per day, a 100% increase. In addition, Ramona’s Kitchen pack up to 6 different box sizes but the Endoline systems are easily adjustable to cope with the size changes.

Automating for the first time as an SME was, admits Ramona, a daunting process as she explains: “Making the investment was initially scary but at the same time important to make that plunge as I realised the efficiencies which could be gained – basically it comes down to simple arithmetic! I am now in a position where I have doubled my capacity with a return on my investment within 12 months.”

As a manufacturer of high spec end of line packing equipment, Endoline Machinery regularly supply global blue-chip companies with fully automated systems, however they have recently launched entry level, semi-automatic systems specifically suited to SME’s who look for quality machines – without the price tag. Andrew Yates, Sales Director for Endoline Machinery, comments: “With our full range of systems we can offer the complete package to any customer – meeting their specification and budget.  It also enables us to ‘hand hold’ our customers throughout the automation process, which we have discovered is very important to SME’s”

Flexibility for SME’s is also important, as Ramona comments: “Investing in these systems has allowed me to grow the business; however it was important that the machines also offered me longevity with the ability to handle a wide variety of box sizes if required.”

Blog Post – The Real Cost of Ownership

Within the fast paced FMCG environment today, staying ahead in manufacturing and technology means doing more with less. This includes strategies to drive down costs, eliminate waste and enhance productivity—all the while increasing output, and meeting the rapid pace of market pressures.

Manufacturers need solutions which safeguard their initial investment. When investing in automation equipment they should not only look to increase efficiency and output, but reduce the long-term total cost of ownership (TCO) of automation assets. Understanding this could unlock hidden savings, minimise downtime and boost productivity.

 

Part of TCO is maintenance, which is seen as a necessary cost of business, but it should be part of the overall business strategy to ensure systems remain running at optimum standards. With a proactive approach maintaining systems can become a key contributor to a company’s bottom line.

 

Below are to tips to ensure you get the most out of your equipment, while bringing TCO to a minimum:

 

  1. It is imperative that you have a good relationship with your machinery supplier who can ‘hold your hand’ through the installation process and beyond. Regular servicing is also vital throughout the lifespan of the system, to ensure that the machine consistently runs at its peak.

 

  1. Service agreements should be considered, if a system needs a service it could end up costing you in the long run by bringing in a less-expensive local engineer who has no experience in the machine you are operating. Most machinery suppliers will have good service plans in place. Link to service page

 

  1. Your machinery supplier should have their own in-house team of engineers who specialise in their equipment. They will also be able to offer routine servicing where not only will they be able to diagnose problems but, with their knowledge of the machinery, they will be able to pre-empt any issues and modify the machine to make production more efficient – for example changing the air pressure and recognising if bearings are wearing.

 

  1. Machinery suppliers should offer your engineers regular, on the job training. It has been reported that manufactures believe their in-house engineers won’t have the know-how to implement and maintain their systems. However, machinery suppliers who have designed and manufactured the machine themselves, will have the expertise to provide full knowledge of the system, and can give a manufacturer’s engineers the confidence to maintain and operate the machinery efficiently for the future. While most larger manufacturers will have their own team of engineers, it is essential that they are educated on a new system, therefore many machinery suppliers will offer regular training workshops with qualified technicians.

 

  1. Work with a machinery supplier who has their ‘finger on the pulse’ of current trends with the technical flexibility to modify software to suit your changing needs or a new product run.

 

  1. Make the most of Remote Diagnostics. This technology is quickly becoming a requirement from customers to help reduce downtime. The growth in this service, and its rapid troubleshooting capabilities, is escalating as it gives companies the assurances that their downtime, should problems occur, will be kept to a minimum and immediate resolutions can be offered. This option also offers overseas customers more comfort and support from machinery manufacturers.

 

  1. Does your machinery supplier hold enough spares? While we recommend that customers keep a number of spares, such as tape heads, to minimise downtime, it is inevitable that machinery suppliers will receive an urgent call for a part! Some manufacturers have had to wait weeks for a spare part when not dealing directly with a dedicated machinery manufacturer and supplier, who can generally turn around your order within 48 hours at most.

 

  1. Quality over quantity

Investing in quality machines from the outset can ultimately save you ££’s in the long term. A poorly built system could end up being replaced several times over during the lifetime of a high-quality system. So don’t overlook a more expensive system, look at the build quality, get customer testimonials, life-span of machine and find out what their service plan is. Purchasing several cheaper machines over a longer period will eventually outweigh the initial investment of a more quality built product.

 

  1. Finally – You get what you pay for!

Investing in end of line equipment may be one of the most costly exercises your business does, however, to avoid falling behind competitors, missing critical business opportunities or losing industry influence, it is imperative that you seize the opportunity to automate and invest in systems which are both reliable and efficient.

 

Endoline will be able to discuss the right approach for your end of line packaging requirement, please contact us.