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Equipment made for the shade

Rising demand for its Sun-Gard solar control window film made this Florida firm take a hard look at its packaging operation. Custom-built cartoning and case packing equipment was the answer.
FILED IN:  Machinery  > Cartoning
Two picking arms, each equipped with seven vacuum cups, rotate to pick carton blanks from the magazine feed and place them in Where it used buy cartons with full product information already printed on them, ITD now uses an in-house thermal transfer printPerforated peghole and labels printed in-house are among ITD1s recent improvementsTwo picking arms, each equipped with seven vacuum cups, rotate to pick carton blanks from the magazine feed and place them in Finished cartons are automatically counted, collated and then pushed into a corrugated shipperThe automatic cartoner1s flighted infeed indexes rolls of window film forward to the carton loading station. There two rolls are

Reining in labor costs through automation is always a good way to boost the bottom line. But at ITD Industries which makes polyester solar control window film for home and auto applications the move to automated packaging proved especially timely.

Shortly after the January '94 installation of its new equipment the cost of polyester resin its primary raw material rose significantly. Thanks to the savings generated by using its custom-made packaging equipment the St. Petersburg FL firm has been able to hold the line on pricing despite the increased material costs.

"It's unbelievable what's happened to the price of polyester" says Richard Kicak national sales and marketing manager. "For-tunately the new line helps us offset those costs."

Product packaged on the new line is sold primarily through do-it-yourself home centers and the automotive aftermarket. "The do-it-yourself business is a significant part of our growth and until we automated we just weren't able to cope with it properly" says vice president of operations Charles Bodanza.

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Before the equipment arrived a crew of workers loaded the rolls of film by hand into hand-erected cartons. They also labeled and manually packed the cases. Now the number of people involved in cartoning labeling and case packing has been reduced by nearly 75% and throughput per shift is 10 to 15% greater.

Also a big help is the redesigned carton supplied by Simkins (Marietta GA). An 18-pt claycoated kraftback printed offset in five colors it has new graphics that give it a more contemporary and appealing look. It also has a new hang tab. On the old carton the hang tab protruded over the top flap. This caused problems when a hardware or home center elected not to hang the cartons from pegs because the tab often got bent which gave the cartons a shopworn look. On the new carton a small perforation is made in the front and back panels up near the top of the carton. If a store chooses to display the cartons by hanging them from pegs it's easy enough to do so. But if the cartons are displayed in a bin without pegs bent hang tabs are no longer a problem.

Length of carton a challenge

An automated cartoner was the first priority in the quest for automation. Bodanza knew from the start that the sheer length of the cartons ITD planned to run on the new line-20" 24" and 36"-was going to place special demands on whatever equipment suppliers he dealt with. Not only are the cartons long they're only 2" x 2" square.

"The advice we got early on was that we should switch to a more rectangular box at least something like two-and-a-half by three-and-a-half" recalls Bodanza. "That configuration is just a lot easier to work with on an automated system. But we wanted to minimize the amount of space the DIY outlet needs to display our product and making the front panel of the carton larger wasn't going to help us much in that regard."