Since 1868, Watkins has manufactured high-quality flavorings and extracts for direct sales. In the last few years, the company has broadened its distribution to include retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target. To enhance its packaging at point of sale, Watkins began using folding cartons to hold its 1- and 2-oz bottles, which were loaded manually into the secondary packaging at the Winona facility. As retail volume grew, Watkins realized the need for an automated cartoning system that could reduce both labor costs and response time for large orders.
Xpedx, Watkins’ supply chain partner, introduced Watkins to the Pegasus continuous-motion cartoner from Econocorp (www.econocorp.com). The automatic bottle-feeding and cartoning system comfortably handles Watkin’s current production requirement of 55 to 60 cartons/min—with plenty of capacity for future growth—and can tuck-close carton flaps without gluing, relates Xpedx Minneapolis packaging equipment specialist Howard Ormsby.
The automated cartoning system easily integrates with Watkins’ existing bottle filling, capping, and labeling line, Ormsby says. Vanilla extract bottles arrive upright and single-file from a bottle labeler onto the Pegasus infeed tabletop chain conveyor. They then feed into a CSS Intl. Corp. (www.cssintl.com) timing screw, integrated into the Pegasus line by Econocorp. This operation separates and times the bottles for horizontal placement into each conveyor bucket. Bottles are then loaded into the cartons via a barrel-cam loading device. Next, loaded cartons are automatically tuck-closed and discharged to a new custom-built upender from Packaging Systems Automation (www.psautomation.com). The upender uprights the bottles into groups of five, which are then pushed into a new Conflex (www.conflex.com) E 250 shrink wrapper.
According to Ormsby, changing over the line to accommodate either the 1- or the 2-oz bottle is simple with the Pegasus cartoner’s toolless changeover. “You’re just changing out the magazine and the timing screw,” he notes.
Relates Watkin’s vice president of operations Jim Yenish, “The Econoseal Pegasus purchase provided a 50-percent return on investment in the very first year. Both Econocorp and Xpedx have been extremely supportive in helping the automation efforts get started on the right track.”