Harpak-ULMA, the industry leader in smart, connected packaging solutions, announced the North American availability of its Gravity Case Packer, an end-of-line automation solution. The Gravity Case Packer may be used with a variety of products and is easily tailored to the needs of vertical bagging operations from meat and cheese to bakery operations. Its simplified, mechanical design allows producers to easily switch between traditional tote loading of fresh goods or the corrugated cases typically used for frozen products. Two models are currently available: the GCP100 produces up to 60 products per minute, and the GCP200 is capable of 90 products per minute.
The lingering impact of COVID on already tight manufacturing labor markets has prompted many companies to reevaluate the need for automation investments to reduce business risk. Historically, many producers have utilized manual loading to maximize flexibility or invested in a separate tote and/or case end-of-line (EOL) automation. The Gravity Case Packer is already used by some of the largest global food operations, helping them unlock more ROI of their automation efforts. Too often, the cost of automating one or both packing methods outweighed the return. A single solution that offers both capabilities in the same footprint helps justify process automation improvements with significant ROI. Ideal for regional Producers with both retail and frozen food service businesses, Harpak-ULMA’s Gravity Case Packer is a single equipment solution that can service multiple SKUs.
Both models utilize a common conveyer and pattern former with side pushers to condense and orient a complete product layer. The layer is indexed and positioned over a set of doors before it is transferred into the tote or case. This simplified approach tends to be less expensive and achieves faster throughput speeds than comparable single-thread solutions that may employ robotics, separate conveyors for each product, etc. The solution design is well suited to constrained plant footprints. Generally, previously manual operations are not space intensive and can often pose challenges when replaced by automation. The Gravity Case Packer can accommodate a range of tote or box sizes to support multi-SKU operations. In addition to offering both the GCP100 and GCP200 models, The Gravity Case Packer family of solutions includes optional components such as a carton case-former/sealer, vibratory transport, a case compactor, and QC plus Label Recognition.
“Replacing manual labor with automation has taken on a new significance in the post-COVID era. The Gravity Case Packer offers an elegant alternative to traditional EOL vertical bagging automation choices that offer only either-or one or the other,” said John Weddleton, Automation Product manager at Harpak ULMA. “It combines mechanical simplicity with flexibility. Users can quickly change over EOL packaging to handle multiple SKUs under either approach. It is also better suited to the more constrained plant footprints often associated with manual loading processes. We also provide an ecosystem of complementary add-on products makes this a turnkey solution. The result is a quicker path to an acceptable ROI to justify the investment.”