RSC Case Packer and Wrap Around Case Packer Types and Options
Case Packer is the machine that packs the cases / shippers / boxes with the products, so that the entire process of packing up the products in cases is automated and expedited."Case Packing" is a term that is sometimes used to describe three distinct operations. Case erecting, case packing and case sealing. Each of these operations can be performed individually OR integrated on a single machine. Combination of manual, semi-automatic and automatic operations is also possible. This article focuses on regular slotted case(RSC) and wrap around case packing(WAP) solutions. These are the most commonly used of all the case styles. The RSC and WAP case blanks are made of corrugated board and are designed to meet the unique needs of the product being shipped, the hazards of the shipping environment, (shock, vibration, compression, moisture, etc.), and the marketing needs of retailers and consumers. The case type and style used often affects the case packing automation, we will be exploring the most common corrugate cases or “shippers” used for shipping goods. RSC (Regular Slotted Case) basics: RSC stands for Regular Slotted Case(also known as KD / knock-down case in various markets), other similar styles cases such as half-slotted cases (HSC), which have no top flaps, AFM (All Flaps Meet) or overlapping flaps can usually be run on similar machines, though some modification may be required to handle them. CASE ERECTION: In manual / very slow speed operations, case erection is often preformed manually with an operator opening the case, closing the bottom flaps and setting it on a table or conveyor for loading. The case is opened and inserted into a fixture that square up the corners. Pneumatically Operated pushers underneath close first the minor then the major flaps and the fixture holds the case in position for loading. The products can be loaded in the cases manually or automatically, once the product are put in the case, the operator manually closes the top flaps and pushes the case to a case sealer. This device is helpful but is still a rather manual operation. In case of an automatic case erector, the knocked-down cases are placed in a magazine sitting vertically OR horizontally in a stack. The case blank is pulled from the magazine by suction cups on an arm and, as it is pulled from the magazine, the case is opened by Passing it over a fixed breaker guide. It is pulled into a pocket / brackets, which square it up to its final shape. A bottom kicker usually closes the trailing minor flap and the case is pushed out of the forming station. There are subsequent guides rails / brackets, pneumatic / mechanical systems that folds the leading minor flap up and the two major, side flaps up against the minors. The case is usually sealed from the bottom by glue OR tape before sending it to filling position, In many applications and on many machines, the case is sent to the filling position with bottom formed but not sealed. Higher speed case erectors may de-couple the case dispensing and erecting. CASE PACKING Case packing is the process of loading into the case. There are three major methods of automatic case packing. Side loading, vertical placing and drop packing. Down packing is another method for specific applications and is a combination of vertical placing and drop packing. Each method has a number of variations depending on machine design, and package and product requirements. While this section is about case packing, the techniques discussed apply generally to tray packing as well. The method chosen will depend largely on the nature of product to be packed. SIDE LOADING / End Load Case Packer: Side-load, sometimes called end-load Or horizontal-load, case packers are useful where the product conforms closely to the shape of the case. An example is cartons of perfume, beer cans, being packed into a case usually in even number formats 2x6 OR 4x6 OR 4X4 etc. They are also useful where it might be hard to stage the product vertically in the appropriate patterns. Examples of this include caulking tubes or stacks of plastic cups. The formed case arrives at the case packing station in either vertical or horizontal orientation. If vertical, the case packer will turn it on its side for packing then turn it back vertical upon completion of packaging. The open end of the case is aligned with the loading station. A funnel may be used to assure that the flaps do not interfere with loading. While the case is being positioned, individual products enter the loading station via a conveyor and are collated into the final pack pattern. Collation usually involves stacking rows of product. Once loading is complete, the case is turned upright, the funnel removed and the case conveyed to the case sealer. Top Load Case Packer: Some products do not lend themselves to either side loading or drop packing. For these products, vertical placing may represent the only viable automatic alternative. Servo control loaders, gantry style system with vacuum cups gripper (controlled by venturi/ejectors OR vacuum pump) can be used. Customized positive mechanical gripper style loading is also used to pack beverage bottles and other intricate containers. There are many robots built by ABB, Kuka, Fanuc, Kawasaki and Codian that are suitable for product loading applications. For slower speed and small payload applications, collaborative robots/Cobots (Universal, Omron, Fanuc etc.) are being used instead of the servo controlled mechanism OR Industrial Robots. The application requirements, available space, budget and customer preferences usually help determine the optimal automation solution for the Top Load case packing. Drop Pack Case Packer: This type of case packer drops product into a case from above. End users will select a drop pack style case packer when they have multiple variations of ridged containers. Different types of drop packers designs are available for different types of products. They offer easy changeover and flexibility in placement whether inline, counter flow or right angle. These days robotic top load case packing OR Servo controlled Top Load Case Packing is beginning to replace the traditional drop packers in many applications. COP / Case Over Packer: These case packers can be fully automated or semi-automated. A full case worth of product is grouped on a pick-up plate by collating the product in individual rows and sweeping the product to form the required case format. Empty cases are stored in an overhead magazine, with cases picked from the magazine with vacuum cups and moved backwards into position above the fingerplates by servo drive motor to provide accurate positioning. Once in position, a vacuum gripper extends from below to pull the case down over the product. The case is lowered over product stack and with the rear fingerplate pointing downwards. Following case loading, the top minor flaps are tucked and the top and bottom major flaps partially closed. The transport flight bars then index the case to compression station, applying hot glue in the process. At the compression station, the top is fully closed and sealed by compression plates by pneumatic actuators. The width of the transport and the height of the compression head is individually adjusted by adjustment screws for the case dimensions. The glued case is then ejected from the machine when the next case is indexed into the compression station. Wraparound Case Packer: A wraparound case is basically a flat piece of corrugated board that can be formed and sealed around the product. A wrap around case packer takes loose product, collates them into the required format then delivers them to the wrapping station where the case is formed around the collation making it a tight pack. Most of the time, the wraparound blank is partially formed to allow for product to be loaded into it from the side. This type of wrapping is particularly attractive when packing glass bottles as the tight pack negates the use of dividers resulting in significant cardboard savings. However, should dividers be required they can be fitted between the infeed and the case packing operation. The box flaps are closed automatically and sealed using hot melt glue which makes for a very strong seal. There are intermittent motion wrap arounfd case packers that can go upto 25 cases per minute and then there are continuous motion wrap around case packers that can go upto 120 cases / minute. These machines are used for the secondary packaging automation for most of the medium to high speed food and beverage production lines.
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