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Pre-made Pouch Machine Pays Off for MSW Packaging

During a refocus of its core business, Indiana co-packer plugs in a pre-made rotary pouch machine, boosting productivity by 15%.

MSW's pouching line
Besides its new pre-made pouch machine, MSW also installed equipment including a bucket elevator and combination scale.

Midwest Service Warehouse (MSW) Packaging, established in 1991, operates two facilities in Lawrenceburg and Batesville, Ind., totaling approximately 100,000 square feet and employing 60 people. A provider of contract packaging and repacking services to globally recognized brands, MSW Packaging’s portfolio includes pouching, cartoning, registered shrink-wrapping, hand packing, kitting, and e-commerce fulfillment.

Challenge: A new focus on dry goods co-packing

For most of its time in business, MSW also engaged in contract manufacturing of products such as granolas, spiced nut mixes, and pet treats.

"We had clients that were looking for us to have increased capacity in the straight co-packing segment,” says David DeAngelis, vice president of sales and marketing at MSW. "In early 2022, we did a deep dive into our business and decided to focus exclusively on the co-packing side."

First, MSW notified their contract manufacturing customers of the phase-out, giving them eight months of lead time to find a new manufacturer. During that transitional time, MSW also prepared its facility for the next phase by restructuring their space to accommodate the new focus on the growing co-packing business.

"We knocked down some walls and built new ones to prepare our space for the new line," says DeAngelis.

A significant part of their co-packing lines is dedicated to bagging pretzels/snacks and candies sold in club stores. MSW also packs numerous club variety packs for beverages, candy and snacks, and protein bars.

MSW knew it was also time to upgrade a premade pouch machine that was about a decade old. They approached Viking Masek Packaging Technologies at a Pack Expo show, drawn by the manufacturer’s reputation in the contract packaging space. "We had known about Viking Masek for a long time, and we wanted to explore more.”

Solution: Pre-made rotary pouch machine

That exploration led to MSW’s purchase of what was soon to become the star of its new packaging line: Viking Masek’s 8S-285, a single-lane, automatic, rotary premade pouch machine. This filler and sealer, designed for dry goods and powders, was a perfect fit for MSW’s product line of candies, salty snacks, and chocolates. “We’re running various sizes of standard retail and club pouches with fills from 1 to 26 oz,” says DeAngelis.

MSW liked this pouch machine not only because of its production capacity (Viking Masek reports on its website that the machine can run at a maximum of 60 bpm) but also its fast changeover time to handle the varying needs of its clients. DeAngelis says that one client has five different SKUs running on the same line. “We’re running five of the same product, just different flavors,” he says. “Changeover time is so minimal, and it’s greatly improved our productivity.”

The 8S-285 allows MSW to run 42-48 bags per minute with 3-5 products at a time, significantly enhancing their capabilities. "We consistently see a 15% improvement in productivity compared to our older lines," DeAngelis added.

Because of its need to transition quickly to its new focus on co-packing, MSW was concerned about implementation time, but the supplier delivered ahead of schedule.

 "Viking Masek went above and beyond to pull together all the components needed for this line," DeAngelis remarked. “I think implementation was 14 weeks, which was about eight weeks sooner than we were originally looking at, and it’s a very consistent, reliable line.”

Combination scale at MSWMSW Packaging's new line runs dry goods for its clients.

The new line also features a bucket elevator from Frazier & Son that Viking Masek helped specify. Other equipment that is part of the new line includes a Yamato Corp. combination scale, a Fortress Technology metal detector, and case erectors supplied by Cleveland Equipment

To maintain uniformity with end-of-line processes, MSW sourced specific equipment that the Viking Masek team seamlessly integrated into the overall buildout, says DeAngelis. Getting the new line up and running went so well that MSW is considering extending its partnership with the supplier.

“It has helped us move forward with our three-to-five-year expansion plans, which is why we've reached out to Viking Masek about some other lines to support existing and new customer requirements,” says DeAngelis.

He credits this overall success not only to the machine’s features but also to Viking Masek’s customer-centric approach. “We felt like they really treated our business as their own and made recommendations based on what we were looking to achieve, not necessarily so Viking Masek could sell more equipment.”

Outcome: Happy workers, happy clients

Besides productivity, MSW’s investment in the automated packaging solution also had a visible impact on operations. With higher output, workers can now focus on other areas of the plant, reassigning workers to other skill-oriented positions.

“We’re not changing the headcount of our organization,” says DeAngelis. “We're just allowing people to develop new skills on new equipment.”

MSW rotates its workers between lines, and teams enjoy getting to work with the new pouch machine. “We know people are excited that it's their turn to be in the room because it’s air-conditioned and less strenuous work.”

DeAngelis added that workforce turnover is also dropping.

MSW’s partnership with Viking Masek has also had a positive ripple effect beyond the plant walls—with MSW's clients. “When they see or hear that we were running something on a Viking Masek line, that gives them a certain comfort, recognizing that it's quality equipment on a quality line, and they're happy to hear that."

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