End-of-Line Packaging:

Protecting Your Product, Productivity and Profit

By: Cheryl Gray

For any winery, end-of-line packaging is the protector of hours expended by both man and machine to get the finished product safely from vineyard to glass.

  Such a huge responsibility is shouldered by companies whose integrity is measured solely by how carefully they help winery clients select the right end-of-line packaging to accommodate their needs.

A-B-C Packaging Machine Corporation

  A-B-C Packaging Machine Corporation, a privately held, family-owned business founded in 1940, counts itself in that number, selling packaging machinery to a wide range of companies manufacturing consumer packages goods. Since the 1960s, the end-of-line packaging company has been an equipment supplier to some of the wine industry’s biggest names, providing a complete line of machinery for winery packaging focused on the dry end of the packing line. Brian Sinicrope is Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

  “The dry end of the packaging line starts with the bottles being delivered to the winery. These are either delivered in reshipper cases or bulk pallet loads. If reshippers, the bottles must be unloaded from the cases to feed the line, using a decaser. Then, the cases are transported to the packer for repacking. When receiving bottles in bulk, the winery will use a depalletizer to unload and single file the containers from the bulk pallets to feed the line. At the other end of the line, filled and finished bottles are packed into either reshipper cases or new cases (if the bottles were purchased in bulk), then on to case sealing, and finally, palletizing for shipment or warehousing.”

  Sinicrope told The Grapevine Magazine that case sealers are another must-have component of a winery’s automated end-of-line packaging operation.

  “Case sealers are always used at wineries that use reshipper case packaging, as they are needed to seal the top flaps of the cases after the bottles are packed. A-B-C manufactures several models for various speeds and that seal with either hot-melt adhesive or pressure-sensitive tape. A-B-C case sealers have exclusive features to manage the flaps of the reshipper cases to ensure smooth folding and sealing of the inner and outer flaps, without the need for a separate flap positioner,” he said.

  “Case sealers are also used on lines that receive their bottles in bulk. In this scenario, a case erector will set up and seal the bottom flaps of corrugated cases. Then, the cases travel to a partition inserter that erects and inserts either a corrugated or chipboard grid into the case. After the bottles are packed, the case goes to a top case sealer that closes and seals the top flaps.  Finally, [the case goes] on to the palletizer.”

  A typical A-B-C winery client runs anywhere from 15 to more than 20 cases per minute. Sinicrope added that while there are trends, the purchase of end-of-line packaging machinery depends upon a robust assessment of a winery client’s need. 

  “A winery transitioning from reshippers to bulk may need a depalletizer, case erector, and partition inserter, and use their existing packer, top case sealer and palletizer. Or, a winery may decide to automate their palletizing, and we supply only a palletizer,” Sinicrope said. “Many companies are evaluating robotic equipment, and we offer robotic packers and palletizers as well. So, I would say, although there are trends, the equipment purchased depends on the application.”

  For small wineries packing fewer than ten cases per minute, the cost to fully mechanize every aspect of end-of-line packaging might be prohibitive. Therefore, many opt to perform end-of-line packing functions manually. However, Sinicrope said that A-B-C offers a semi-automatic palletizer that can improve productivity for small wineries looking to automate this specific element of end-of-line packaging.

  “Fully packed wine cases are heavy, and palletizing can be labor-intensive, even at low speeds. In addition, there is a potential for liability because of the repetitive motion of the task. Our semi-automatic palletizer lets one operator slide cases into the pallet pattern at the conveyor level. Then the layer is lifted and placed into pallet formation. The machine eliminates the repetitive lifting and potential strain of manual palletizing at an economical cost.”

  Sinicrope told The Grapevine Magazine that A-B-C typically works with customers packaging their products in corrugated cases with partitions, and those cases are palletized for shipping and warehousing. The packaging materials used and equipment deployed has proven to be a successful combination for its clients.

  “A corrugated box with partitions is highly effective at protecting products during shipment and final delivery. However, it is important to make sure the packaging equipment performs secure case sealing and that the packed cases are not subjected to enough moisture that could cause corrugated failure.” This, he said, is rare. “Corrugated boxes have been a standard for packaging for many years because they are durable, provide good product protection and superior stacking strength. Today, companies are looking for sustainable packaging solutions, and corrugated boxes are a cost-effective, renewable solution.”

Wine Country Shipping, Inc.

  Wine Country Shipping, Inc., does precisely what its name implies. In business for more than 25 years, the company services approximately 150 wineries, retail outlets and hotels throughout Sonoma County, California. Its sister company, Wine Country Cellars, LLC, provides more than 10,000 square feet of temperature-controlled storage space for winery products. Janice Laskoski is President and Managing Owner of Wine Country Shipping and sole owner of Wine Country Cellars. Using rigid quality control standards in packaging and shipping, Laskoski told The Grapevine Magazine that the priority for both of her companies is to protect what she describes as her winery clients’ “liquid assets.”

  “If time has taught us one thing, it is that every customer wants their wine shipped quickly, safely and easily. That is the premise upon which we have built our reputation,” she said.

  Wine Country Shipping uses cartons, pallets or shrink-wrap pallets for end-of-line packaging materials. Quality control includes careful inspection of all items before, during and after packaging to ensure nothing goes amiss during shipping. Laskoski said that using the right packaging makes a tremendous difference in protecting winery products during both shipping and final delivery.

  “The right packaging is very important. Styrofoam has proven with our partners, UPS and FedEx, to be the most reliable, but pulp is being requested more and more due to the environment,” said Laskoski.

Tetra Pak

  Tetra Pak cartons are the end-of-line packaging choice for wineries doing business with California Natural Products. The company, located in the San Joaquin Valley in northern California, has been in business for 40 years with customers across the U.S. and Canada. The attributes of a Tetra Pak are attractive to many consumers. Among them is sustainability, since the product is made from at least 75% recyclable paper derived from responsibly managed forests. It is portable, flexible and unbreakable packaging, designed with a “grab and go” concept popular with consumers. The Tetra Pak also has the convenience of a resealable cap, giving the option of either consuming now or storing for later use.

  Tom Jansen is Vice President, Business Development for CNP.  He said that using a Tetra Pak format for end-of-line packaging benefits wineries in other tangible ways. “Tetra Pak protects the product by eliminating oxygen entry and light from exposure to the product, which is ideal for wine. Tetra Pak is lighter than glass or cans and allows for more efficient delivery as a result.”

  Tetra Pak is one of three companies under the umbrella of the Tetra Laval Group, a trio of firms headquartered in Switzerland. Tetra Laval Group provides end-of-line packaging equipment for the wine and spirits industries, covering critical needs such as packaging, secondary packaging, conveying and palletizing.

  Bandit Wines is one brand that prefers Tetra Pak cartons because of its own mission to utilize eco-friendly end-of-line packaging. Take, for example, fuel efficiency. The California-based wine producer said its shipping costs are lower before and after filling because of the lightweight and space-saving features of Tetra Pak cartons. Bandit Wines also said that for consumers, not only do they buy a wine product that is convenient and environmentally safe but also packaged in a container that holds 50% more wine than a comparably sized wine bottle.

  Boris Munster, Vice President of Contract Manufacturing, Tetra Pak U.S. and Canada, told The Grapevine Magazine that as a global innovator for end-of-line packaging, Tetra Pak is in a position to help wine producers and their products stand out.

  “Wine is traditionally bottled in glass, but several wine producers have discovered the advantages of using Tetra Pak’s packages,” Munster said. “Carton packages are available in a wide range of sizes and are printable on all sides, opening big opportunities for design and branding.”

  From machinery to shipping to branding and more, there is virtually no end-of-line packaging need that is not essential to getting wine to the marketplace and into consumer’s hands.

Email This Post Email This Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *