Case Study: American Licorice
Candy maker automates carton assembly
In an effort to improve packing efficiency and speed up the operation, American Licorice automated their carton assembly system. Using an automatic case former and Hytrol conveyor to supply empty cartons to the packing stations they can now meet the demands. Prior to this each operator had the task of forming their own box, taping it, filling and sealing it. Now cases are formed and taped automatically and transported to the work station using incline conveyors. All the operators do now is fill the boxes.
The empty boxes go to four different stations. In a typical set up, ten boxes go to each station in sequence. However, there are photo controls that let the operator know if one station is empty. It will fill that one first, then go back to its original count. If they are not using all four stations, the operator can shut off a station. It will then count ten to each of three stations instead of four and keep cycling in this way. It automatically keeps boxes moving to operators through photo-eyes and a programmable controller.
After the boxes are filled, they leave the stations with the top unsealed. They move up a vertical lift to an overhead, then down a chute to the tape sealer. It is then manually palletized.
John Nelson of American Licorice estimates a productivity increase of about 14% with a payback of 1.5 years.