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Bush Brothers cooks up faster labeling

Baked beans packer Bush Brothers and Company, Augusta, WI, needed to speed up its can-labeling operations to more than 1,000 cans per minute, which exceeded what its existing labeler could do.
FILED IN:  Applications  > Food  > Bakery

Bush Bros. mechanical technician Steve Chowanec spearheaded a project that led to the installation of a K2 "Summit" model cut-and-stack labeler from K2 Engineering ( that replaced a 1985 vintage labeler. It handles three can diameters with paper or metallized paper labels. Labeling stations increased from 28 to 35 along with improved speeds.

The labeler is controlled by Rockwell Automation ( ControLogix 5000 through Rockwell’s PanelView 1000 Plus human-machine interface. The labeler this replaced was all push-button operation, according to Chowanec. "The screens are easy to use and include a help screen if needed."

The labeler operates with two ELAU ( servo motors, one to operate the infeed screw and the other to drive the container control of the spindle.

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"We went with a servo motor on the bottle plate belt to help control the rotation of the can," says Chowanec. "I know this will help us when we understand how the rotation affects the pulling of the label out of the supply magazine. ELAU is very supportive."

Near the discharge, a Microscan ( scanner inspects the vertically printed bar code. "It assures that we have the right label and also verifies the label placement," says Chowanec.

The labeler also features a Nordson Corp. ( PatternJet glue system that was detailed in the feature in the July issue of Packaging World (see Bush Brothers sticks it to glue problems). "We’re seeing good glue savings," says Chowanec. "Nordson has also been very supportive."

K2 also supplied quick-changeover parts for Bush to run the three diameters of cans, 300, 307, and 211. "The starwheels and center guide are quick change," says Chowanec. "We would like to get to a 20-minute changeover. Depending on the time of the year, we might make one change per shift."

Chowanec says they continue to improve operating efficiency. "The old labeler ran around 97% OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency). Right now we are below that with the K2, but have seen great improvements in the last couple of months. I’m sure this is just the learning curve with the K2 and glue system."


Chowanec and Bush Brothers management label this project a success.

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