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Squeezing out productivity

An adjustable guiderail system allows juice producer Hansen's Juices to maximize output, minimize downtime. Sizing up and down lets line focus on "just-in-time" technology.
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FILED IN:  Machinery  > Filling/sealing  > Capping
     

With over thirty varieties of juice in more than five sizes leaving the Azusa CA plant keeping its filling line up and running is crucial to Hansen's Juices success. The company's switch from traditional drop-in conveyor guide rails to an adjustable bracket guide-rail system has simplified size changeover time and increased the company's production. Juice is filled into 8-oz pint quart 1/2-gal and 1-gal bottles made from a variety of plastic materials with the number of containers filled being determined by customer orders. Diameters range from 1 1/2" to 6". "Our original guiderail system had stainless steel brackets that required time-consuming set-up and adjustment. Set-up required loosening several nuts and bolts repositioning rails and then retightening those nuts and bolts" says Hansen's engineer of plant operations Chuck Nightengale. Because of the variety requested in customer orders Hansen's produces its juice in small 1-gal batches. Quick changeover became a major factor in keeping these orders as fresh as possible. Nightengale sought improvement and found it in Efson's (Wilmington NC) Trackstar(TM) adjustable guiderail system. The rails fit Hansen's existing conveyors and reduced changeover to about 1/10th the time needed before. The main reason says Nightengale is fasteners that can be tightened by hand instead of with a wrench. In addition these rails are made of molded fiberglass reinforced nylon for easy washdown. The quick change Containers are loaded onto a conveyor table and queued up for single filing onto the belt. They go through a labeler where front and back sides of the rectangular containers are labeled. Next filling and capping are handled in close order. Bottles pass through a washer and onto an accumulation table where they are manually packed into cases. When the table empties production stops momentarily. The next larger size containers are placed on the table labels changed and guide rails adjusted to accommodate the larger size. The entire procedure takes just over four minutes. This procedure continues from the smallest size up through filling of the 1-gal container. The next batch of juice is filled with 1-gal containers first working down to the 8-oz size. The line currently runs at speeds up to 200 bpm. Nightengale cannot quantify Hansen's current volume but says that the company has almost doubled its volume since implementation of the adjustable guiderail system two years ago. Additional savings comes from reduced product inventorying thanks to shortened more frequent runs. "Now changeover takes us very little time" says Nightengale. "Our guys are so well trained that we go from one size to another in thirty seconds or so." Adding new bottles to the conveyor table takes about the same amount of time. "Now it takes more time to change labels on the machine than it does to set up the railing system."

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