By: Gerald Dlubala
You’ve spent a lot of time, effort and money to produce a great tasting, quality wine that you’re proud of and can’t wait to share with consumers. When it’s finally time to package and ship your wine, there are many options on the table. It’s up to you to make the decisions that will move your company in the desired direction.
Functional End Of Line Efficiency For Trending Canned Wines
“If it has a seam or a ridge, we can put a handle on it,” said Mike Seestadt, PakTech’s Territory Sales Manager for North America and Central Canada. “Because of the surge in packaging wine in cans, it is a major focus of our business right now. Canned wine offers a huge opportunity because we can make and put handles on all can formats, from standard to sleek to slim.”
PakTech produces can-handle packaging solutions that are manufactured totally from post-consumer recyclables, namely clear milk jugs. The can-handles not only make it easy to carry packs of canned wine, but they are also built to nest, creating an optimal way to stack and store can packs. Once used, the handles are recyclable again. In fact, PakTech is partnering with its clients in maintaining a closed-loop recycling program that has an ultimate goal of recycling used can-handle into more of the same.
“PakTech also makes and sells the can-handle applicators, making us a one-stop shop,” said Seestadt. “Our available applicators are a standalone system, but they are also conveyorized, allowing them to be inserted directly in-line within a company’s packaging process.”
PakTech sells can-handle application machinery based on the clients packaging needs, starting with the CCA 120/180. This unit applies quad-, six- or eight-pack PakTech can-handles onto filled beverage containers at a rate of thirty cycles, or 180 cans per minute. The CCA 440+ applicator is recommended for larger producers but is also a popular item in co-packing environments. PakTech also manufactures higher speed units customized for the unique needs of their clients, with application speeds of up to and including 1600 cans per minute.
“We’re not just a seller though,” said Seestadt. “We are a partner with our clients rather than a component supplier. We stay with the company throughout the install and provide training on site for the operation, maintenance and cleaning of the applicators. We have service teams that travel the globe providing installs and physical upgrades. Software upgrades are applied remotely.”
Seestadt told The Grapevine Magazine that PakTech’s systems typically are placed last on the packaging line and work well with the systems already installed.
“We work with the currently installed line configurations and filler spaces. Our can handles all nest, providing easy shipping and pallet building without the need for trays for stability. Although our systems are 100% in-line capable, they can be run as a standalone unit if needed.”
Needs and Goals Drive Packaging Automation Choices
Bryan Sinicrope, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for A-B-C Packaging Machine Corporation, is all in when matching end-of-line packaging options with a winery’s business needs and goals.
“Typically, once a winery reaches line speeds of around 120 to 150 bpm, automation in their packaging process can be justified,” said Sinicrope. “Then, they need to look at their goals. Do they need to increase speed, want to reduce labor, need a dedicated line, or want to run multiple sizes and configurations? What are their space limitations? All of these answers will impact the type and amount of machinery needed. For example, to accommodate a large increase in sales, it may be worthwhile to transition, when feasible, from reshipper cases to bulk bottle delivery. Original equipment manufacturers are well equipped to help with machinery decisions once concrete goals are established. Our equipment recommendations lean towards simple, straightforward and uncomplicated machinery that still offers modern, updated sophistication with features and equipment design that give the winery plant personnel the flexibility and control they need.”
Sinicrope told The Grapevine Magazine there isn’t an industry standard for packaging automation, because different options are available depending on the winery’s priorities. Some wineries, for example, may want to automate at lower speeds if it provides other advantages such as improved quality control for their products or to address concerns over potential liability and insurance costs related to hand labor.
“Machinery choices also vary based on how the winery purchases their bottles,” said Sinicrope. “They will either use reshippers, where the bottles are delivered in corrugated cases, or purchase bottles in bulk, getting them on bulk shipping pallets. For reshipper handling, the winery needs an uncaser to remove those bottles from the reshipper case, then a packer to repack the finished bottles after filling, labeling and closure application. They’ll need a top sealer to seal the top case flaps and a palletizer to load the cases onto the shipping pallets. If using bulk glass handling, the winery needs a depalletizer to unload the bottles from the bulk pallets, then a case erector to set up the new cases, a partition inserter if the case will have partitions (dividers to keep the bottles apart), a packer to pack the bottles into the case, a sealer to seal the top case flaps, and finally that palletizer to load the shipping pallets.”
On first glance, all of this may seem like a significant investment, Sinicrope said, but there are different options for each step that offer both cost and space savings. For example, A-B-C Packaging manufactures a bottle unpacker/packer that simultaneously handles both uncasing and packing in one machine, saving floor space while reducing upfront, capital equipment expense. All the equipment can be used with previously installed lines or on a standalone basis. Palletizers typically come preprogrammed with common pallet patterns for easy selection, but if necessary, the palletizers come equipped with an intuitive custom configuration builder on the control panel.
A-B-C Packaging offers training following the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute standardized program. They recommend monthly lubrication and cleaning schedules and offer lubrication systems on some of their machinery, making the task easier. They also supply full service for the life of their equipment, including training, remote diagnostics, in-plant service calls, factory spare and repair parts, machine upgrades and rebuilds. To reduce a winery’s need for service staff, they A-B-C Packaging offer service contracts that provide regular inspection and maintenance.
Adaptable and Flexible Packaging Options Fit Industry Needs
“End-of-line packaging can be a bigger concern for the wine industry simply because of the price point of the product,” said Ryan Broughton, Sales Manager for Delkor Systems.“How the finished product presents itself to the end user is important.”
Delkor Systems offers pick-and-place case packing systems rather than drop pack systems. Pick-and-place case loaders are better at handling fragile components while also addressing potential integrity issues of the filled bottles.
“Bottle integrity, label integrity and closure integrity are all important aspects to consider when packaging, shipping and showcasing the wine for the end user, and we’re always looking at how to better address these issues,” said Broughton. “Bottle integrity is increasingly important with the increased use of thinner and lighter weight glass bottles. Labels are obviously important for branding, consumer recognition and loyalty, and no one wants to see scuffed or scraped labels on their finished product. It presents a diminished perception of the product inside. With more wines being bottled using screw caps, it’s imperative that the skirt directly below the cap enclosure remain intact and undamaged.”
Broughton told The Grapevine Magazine that some packaging automation is generally recommended once a winery approaches an annual production rate of approximately 200,000 cases. “Automation saves money on different levels. Basic machinery includes an automated case packer and palletizer. By having a case packer available to run when needed, a winery can pack and prepare shipments faster and more efficiently. It also eliminates the need to hire temporary workers as some wineries have to do to get the product packed and shipped. The time and money saved can be better used elsewhere, increasing efficiency and uptime in other areas. To avoid the repetitive lifting, twisting and stacking, a palletizer is also recommended to take those filled and sealed cases and ready them for shipment.”
Delkor Systems’ machinery can be used as a standalone machine when needed and can be fed by hand or by conveyor. The machines can be adjusted to different bottle sizes and shapes, cans or any rigid container types. Additionally, the systems readily adapt to new case counts or configurations.
Delkor also manufacturers machines optimized for packing flexible primary products as well, such as bag-in-box or pouches. Delkor’s machines were derived and built based on the needs of the food and beverage industry, and because of that experience, Delkor Systems bring additional functionality and flexibility to wine packaging that previously never existed.
“We’ve perfected our machines through decades of hard work and listening to our customer base,” said Broughton. “For a long time, wineries were a very stable and static industry regarding bottles, generally using only four basic types. Other food and beverage containers, however, were always changing due to the needs and wants of consumers, or because of new products coming to market, so Delkor Systems made it a priority to be flexible and adaptable with its equipment lines. We pride ourselves on the flexibility and adaptability of our equipment lines to help our clients react and adapt to the market as needed, whether it’s a different style or shape of the bottle or can, or the desire to package the finished product differently.”
Delkor Systems provides installation, service and training programs for the end users of their equipment. Their overall goal, however, is to provide their customers with the quality training and knowledge that will allow them to confidently service and maintain the equipment on their own.
“If and when a client needs our help, we’re always here for them with 24-hour live phone support and availability of on-site service and training,” said Broughton.