As a fresh poultry producer, Sanfelice slaughters and processes 16,000 chickens per day. When Sanfelice acquired a new large supermarket customer, it became apparent that the packaging line presented an obstacle to increasing throughput that needed to be overcome.
One of two packaging machines Sanfelice used had a maximum capacity of 20 trays per minute. This machine was limiting the plant’s output as all other parts of the plant had the capacity to boost production. Meanwhile, the plant’s second packaging machine has a capacity of 45 trays per minute. However, this machine requires that the trays arrive long end leading, and uses a pneumatic pusher arm to turn them 90 degrees. The pusher arm presents various problems:
- It has a maximum throughput of 35 trays per minute, which can only be increased if the impact of the pusher arm is increased, causing displacement of product and labels.
- Its impact pushes products too close together, leaving no gaps. This causes blockages in the packaging machine that can only be remedied with manual labor and line stops.
- It requires high maintenance and spare part costs.
- The loss of production time caused by blockages and displacement of products/labels has to be made up in overtime.
- Due to the unreliability in gapping and displacement of products by pusher impact, labeled batches sometimes combine, leading to limited traceability of products.
Sanfelice installed a 90-degree passive transfer from Intralox’s line of award winning Activated Roller Belt (ARB) technology. The solution’s effectiveness was demonstrated pre-sale when Intralox conducted and recorded simulations and extensive testing with the trays the plant uses. The complete installation, including changes to an existing conveyor, removing the old curve conveyor, and installing the new solution was done within eight hours on a Saturday.
The Intralox ARB solution made service to the new supermarket customer possible by increasing throughput. The solution has required zero maintenance since installation and has eliminated the problem of blockages in the packaging machine. The plant is no longer required to pay overtime to make up for production loss. The solution accurately gaps product, ensuring traceability in the case of a batch mix up, and requires no extra floor space. The plant manager, Daniele Mariani said: “I did not have a lot of space. The ARB solution allowed me to solve the problem with a very small footprint compared to the pusher arm alternative.” Furthermore, return on investment for the solution was reached in just eight months. Mariani reports: “By installing the ARB solution, we were able to increase the output of the line by 10%. It works for all products, no matter what size or weight the tray is. At installation, we set the speed of the accelerator conveyor for the largest tray we run on this line, and since then it has worked for all products. If the pusher arm in my other line needs to be replaced, I would choose the ARB 90-degree transfer solution.”