A global consumer products manufacturer had embarked on an automation program at a label printing plant as part of a plan to boost capacity without incurring a corresponding increase in costs. The plant produces more than 440 different, mostly transparent labels for some of the company’s most renowned consumer products, manufacturing more than 500 million labels annually. Its equipment lineup features two combination flexo-rotary screen presses, a Martin butt splicer and turret rewinder and a high speed, automated trim system from Precision AirConvey to capture and evacuate the high volume of waste these high capacity presses produce in 24/7 operation.
Though automating matrix removal and other steps in the process eliminated costly shutdowns and allowed the presses to run uninterrupted, the increased production also generated considerably larger volumes of waste material. This matrix waste, after being cut into confetti-like pieces, was discharged into open, corrugated boxes. When filled, the boxes were manually hauled 500 feet through the facility to a dumpster, leaving behind a trail of dust and tiny pieces of film with each trip. Increasing production to upwards of 200,000 feet of material per day simply overwhelmed the manual waste handling system. In fact, the boxes were filling up so fast that the waste became a physical obstacle to the operation of the rest of the equipment.
In need of a solution, the company’s veteran print manager investigated a variety of balers, compactors and other waste handling systems, but each one required sacrificing precious warehouse space to accommodate the large footprints of the heavy machinery. The manager wanted to contain everything within the print department and keep the handling and transfer at a minimum for cleanliness and efficiency, but was unable to find a solution that would fit in the available area at a price that could be justified internally. Enter the automated trim system supplier Precision AirConvey (PAC). The Newark, DE-based manufacturer of trim and waste handling machinery had recently developed an automated solution for managing large volumes of trim and label matrix waste that works as a companion to its trim systems. Having received highly favorable reports on the PAC trim system after two years in continuous operation at the plant, CEO Tom Embley and his engineering team were eager to present their new approach for managing waste from printing, packaging, converting and other types of production systems.
PAC engineers devised a system called the EcoPAC Baler. Replacing the manual, open, corrugated box approach, the EcoPAC Baler automatically collects the waste material from the matrix waste removal system. Then, using a proprietary rotary action, it densifies the waste into a tight cube. When the door is opened to reveal this cube, it is already contained inside a neat plastic bag and set atop a standard pallet for easy handling via lift truck or pallet jack. This “bale-in-a-bag” approach offers a clean, self-contained baling system that keeps pace with virtually any conceivable production rate and reduces staff involvement in waste handling while preventing the label waste and any dust from escaping into the plant environment. Once per day, a worker simply sets a pallet on the bottom, puts in a bag liner, and at the end of the day 200,000 feet of waste is compressed neatly inside the bag. A material-air separator and dust collector remove fine particles and divert the process air to an appropriate location.
With the new baling system, waste no longer billows out into the plant environment and is instead automatically contained in a bag within a single area, and labor needs for manual waste handling have been eliminated.