Switch from banding to bagging triples towel packaging speeds

Machine controller keeps track of towel counts, collects stats, and takes pressure off packaging operators.

Alsco Inc., St Petersburg, FL, is a supplier of industrial work clothes, uniforms, and cleaning linens. As part of its product repertoire, Alsco rents cleaning towels to the food and beverage industries and institutional markets.

In Alsco’s previous manual towel packaging operations, workers were counting and accumulating 25 towels per pack and placing bands around the bundled towels. This was a low-tech, labor-intensive operation, and the company wanted to improve packaging speeds and efficiencies to keep pace with customer demands.

Alsco contacted their distributor SisPack Corp., which worked with bagging machinery specialist Rennco, a division of Pro Mach, to explore more efficient towel-packaging options. Rennco, Sispack, and Alsco worked together to find a packaging solution to best meet Alsco’s objective of increasing productivity in a cost-effective manner.

Together the companies determined that the optimum approach was to use center-folded, 1.25-mil polyethylene rollstock material to form a bag around each bundle of accumulated towels. The machine of choice is a Rennco Model Vertic-L-PP vertical bagger with a Proface HMI machine controller. The bagger was custom-built by Rennco and designed in collaboration with SisPack Corp., which sells the system under model number CF-4000. It features a small footprint, tool-less changeovers, and a user-friendly HMI control panel. The machine was installed in August 2009.

Alsco general manager Sean Michot reports, “Rennco’s technical assistance has been unsurpassed. Their technicians were in our facility during all phases of the installation, training, and start-up. We’re getting consistent tube forming of the bags without any jams. Rennco went above and beyond to make sure that the bagger exceeded our expectations.”

The fully programmable Proface HMI keeps track of the number of towels per package, and the bagger automatically seals the bags. This means the operator no longer needs to count the number of towels nor band the bundled towels. Packaging speeds have jumped from 1500 towels per operator per hour to about 4000 towels per operator per hour. Alsco was able to reduce by two the number of workers needed at the towel-packaging station. Alsco estimates that these increased packaging efficiencies will deliver a return on investment for the new bagging system in less than one year.

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