Intralox Merging and Sorting Systems Tick All the Boxes for Punchbowl Kiwifruit Services
The Intralox Merge and Sorter have become an integral part of our packaging system. They have enabled our 66% increase in production volume while allowing us to optimize the flow of boxes to our palletizing stations.Simon Craig, Punchbowl Kiwifruit Services General Manager
Punchbowl Kiwifruit Services is a provider of kiwifruit based in Pukekohe, New Zealand, that operates several orchards and a packing facility. Due to higher projected volumes, Punchbowl was in search of a system that would efficiently allow them to increase annual throughput from 2.8 million boxes to 5 million boxes.
Its previous case sorting system from packer to palletizer used pneumatic-based pushers that maxed out at 24 boxes per minute and would not be able to accommodate the increased volume. The pusher arms also posed a potential safety hazard for employees.
While Punchbowl installed protections to prevent people from reaching in to clear jams, safety was an ongoing issue. Additionally, each pusher took up 4.9 ft (1.5 m) of valuable floor space. Punchbowl was also concerned with pushers occasionally activating out of sync and damaging boxes. This damaged approximately 6% of kiwifruit and required crushed boxes to be reworked and recirculated.
Punchbowl wanted a flexible solution that could sort any box from two packing lines to any of the six manual palletizing locations. The required sorting system needed to eliminate crush points and safety hazards, and to reach a capacity of up to 40 boxes per minute in a limited space.
The solution that met all requirements was the Intralox® Activated Roller Belt™ (ARB™) Merge S400 (2:1) with a six-exit Dual-Stacked Angled Roller™ Belt (DARB™) 90-Degree Sorter S4500. The system smoothly merges boxes into a single line and sorts them to 90 degrees to the manual palletizing stations with far fewer moving parts and without taking up additional floor space. Intralox shipped the equipment on a tight deadline to support the installation.
Installed in March 2020, the Intralox merging and sorting system hit all the targets and experienced no issues. The ARB and DARB equipment have been able to handle up to 40 boxes per minute, allowing Punchbowl to pack 3.2 million boxes, 400,000 more than the previous season.
Punchbowl is now planning to extend the length of the existing Intralox sorter and add two more sort points to hit its target of 5 million boxes per season.