Although vertical form/fill/seal machines and computerized weighing systems are critical equipment additions to Diamond of California’s Stockton CA facility efficiency on Lines 3 and 4 also depends on upstream and downstream equipment.
On the front end both lines are served by a vibratory conveyor system from Allen Systems (Newberg OR). The conveyor feeds product to an “air leg” that separates fines from the nuts as they pass through onto another vibratory conveyor that delivers them to the Heat and Control scales. Diamond’s engineering department handled line integration for the two new lines.
Downstream of filling tamped bags are conveyed through a metal detector from Thermo Goring Kerr (Westmont IL). Bags are manually packed into cases in different configurations depending on the product. The key improvement is Diamond’s investment in an automatic case erector (shown) from Wexxar (Delta British Columbia Canada). The machine erects cases that are filled manually with the output from Line 4.
“The Wexxar erects corrugated shipping cases and tapes the bottom” explains David Baffoni manufacturing manager at Diamond. Not only does this save time “but it also prevents the possibility of repetitive trauma disorders and provides ergonomic advantages” says Baffoni. “Now cases arrive assembled on a conveyor so that operators only have to pack bags into the case.”
Filled cases pass through a 3M (St. Paul MN) machine that applies tape to case tops to seal them shut. There’s a case taper on both of the lines. Diamond uses a Markem 5000 ink-jet system that prints best-before date Julian date code and line and shift codes. It prints three lines of type using black ink. The information is usually the same as is printed by another Markem unit onto the individual bags of nuts.
A Label-Aire (Fullerton CA) machine is used to apply preprinted labels for the hole-punched bags of culinary nuts which represents a strong portion of Diamond’s business.