Technical Chemical, a Cleburne, TX-based contract packager and maker of fluid products sold in the automotive aftermarket, installed a Hoppmann M3 rotary labeling system from ID Technology (Fort Worth, TX) six months ago. A replacement for an aging linear labeling system, the new labeler resulted in faster changeover, faster throughput, increased production, and more accurate label placement.
“It’s just a really dependable machine,” says Scott Dudley, vice president at Technical Chemical. “It’s built really well and it’s very accurate. It’s helped reduce our downtime tremendously.”
Labeling for the high-density polyethylene bottles takes place on five different lines. Only one is currently equipped with the new rotary labeling system. Technical Chemical made the switch on that particular line because they began packaging fluids in round bottles, necessitating a labeler that could apply wrap-around labels.
Running one shift/day, the M3 rotary labeler requires only one operator. And now, instead of spending 45 min on machine changeover, the operator can perform the function in 15 min. Changeover is necessary when changing from one bottle size or shape to another. Quicker changeover is made possible because it only requires mechanical change out of the tooling set. The machine is also gear driven, reducing maintenance due to belt adjustment and wear. According to Dudley, the time savings alone will help the machine pay for itself in what he expects to be three years.
The company also saves on materials because of the machine’s heightened accuracy. Because the package is held at the top, bottom, and sides, it can’t tilt forward, backward, or sideways, any one of which could cause a misplaced label.
After bottles are filled and capped, they are inkjet coded and conveyed to the new label applicator. Capable of running 300 bottles/min, the new rotary labeler utilizes upper fixtures with heads that center and lock the product into a lower carousel dish that is equipped with a centering tooling change plates. The plates have the shape of the bottom of the container, while the dish centers drop to lock the containers in place, ensuring stability.
A synchronized motor drive, timing screw, and infeed conveyor are designed for precise container loading, providing jam protection and product flow control. An infeed star takes the bottles spaced by the screw conveyor and inserts them into the carousel plates. The outfeed star takes the containers from the carousel plates and positions them on the belt conveyor. An inlet star feeds the lower part of the carousel dish where the centering plates are located.
A cam mechanism moves and rotates the product in front of the label applicators. A lift cam brings the dropped floor of the container profile up and down as the product enters, travels through, and exits the carousel.
According to Dudley, the decision to go with ID Technology was an easy one for Technical Chemical. Not only is it local for the TX-based manufacturer and contract packager, but the two companies have worked well together in the past.
“We’ve always had good experiences with them,” he says. “And now we have something faster, and more reliable.”