MeadWestvaco Invests in A+F Automation Palletizing System

Meadwestvaco Packaging's Ajax, ON, Canada, beverage carton converting facility recently installed an automated palletizing system. According to the operation, the A+F system is delivering enhanced ergonomics, productivity, and flexibility.

Installed at Meadwestvaco Packaging earlier this year, the A + F Automation customized modular palletizing system is designed to handle both open-top and closed beverage carton cases and to meet the highest production capacity requirements, says the manufacturer.

According to PacSys Inc.'s Mike McGuiness, the North America rep for the Germany-based A+F Automation, "the system is a totally new concept in folding carton material handling automation."

Today’s palletizing systems have to match the standards set by the highly versatile and highly efficient upstream folder gluer machinery.

The system also is said to handle more than 10 cap and layer sheet sizes, a wide range of pallet patterns, and multiple different pallet types and sizes as specified by the end user.

"Our intent with this installation was to address ergonomic issues at the Ajax facility and to provide opportunities for enhanced productivity," says Randy Bailey, VP of manufacturing for MeadWestvaco Packaging. "This is an impressive system and we are very pleased with its efficiency."

Following comprehensive project planning and simulation phases, A+F Automation delivered a plate-type palletizer system that fully automated what had been a large number of complex manual processes requiring a high level of repetitive motions.

"We have changed what used to be a manual operation, with much heavy repetitive human lifting and fork lift truck traffic, to one that's completely automated," describes Doug McMillan, Ajax plant manager. "At the same time, we have increased facility output without any increase in headcount."

The new installation is comprised of two A+F Automation fully automatic palletizer systems, outfitted with a total of eight palletizing stations, linked by conveyer, to the plant’s existing folder/gluers. Each palletizer, with its four palletizing stations, can operate totally independent of the other.

Computer Programming and Electronics
"We have elevated the skill level needed for this part of the plant from muscles and forklifts to one that involves computer programming and electronics," says Dale Breckow, director of Canadian operations. "Our people that operate the system were able to train on this system in Germany before ours was installed."

A PC-based visualization system monitors operation of the palletizer system using standard WonderWare software. The touch-screen visualization system provides fault analysis and pallet tracking for the conveying and palletizing included, and for total support A+F Automation engineers can access and service the machine control system via the Internet. In addition, a small portable text display unit, which can be carried by the machine operator, displays any malfunctions.

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