Original article published in Canadian Packaging
Situation: Urgent Need for a High-Speed Packaging Solution
Wearing a protective face mask has become an inescapable part of everyday life since the global pandemic first spread in 2020.
“People tend to forget that prior to the pandemic, Canada would go through nearly six billion face masks per year,” says George Irwin, founder and chief executive officer of the fast-growing upstart PPE (personal protective equipment) clothing manufacturer Trebor Rx Corp. in Collingwood, Ont. “When governments started mandating the wearing of masks in public last fall, the demand for masks more than doubled almost overnight,” recalls Irwin, who estimates to have sold over 10 million three-ply masks by the end of 2020.
“I think it’s very important for Canada and the province of Ontario to be as self-sufficient as possible in the personal protection business,” says Irwin. So, he began manufacturing the basic three-ply masks at a 6,000-square-foot shop in Collingwood, where he installed two mask-making machines. But with demand for masks still soaring across Canada and elsewhere, Irwin realized he would need to ramp up his manufacturing production rapidly to keep his new customers reliably supplied.
Trebor has leased a nearby 30,000-square-foot facility in the same industrial park as the original shop and installed more mask-making machinery and other production equipment while hiring more staff, to boost throughput and productivity. “We will be operating a total of six face mask-making machines at the new facility,” says Irwin, who expects the new factory to produce over 500,000 masks daily.
With the existing production capacity for the Pro+ masks already stretched to the limit, the company found itself in need of a high-speed packaging solution to replace the time-consuming, highly repetitive manual placement of the individual kits inside plastic bags that keep all the kit components together in protective pillow-bag packaging.
To help automate the slow and tedious manual bagging procedure, without overwhelming the tight space constraints, Irwin turned to PACKPRO to alleviate the problem, knowing PACKPRO’s expertise in bagging systems.
Solution: SPrint SidePouch Bagger
After evaluating Trebor’s application requirements, PACKPRO and APS (now part of Sealed Air) agreed that a highly versatile SPrint SidePouch bag packaging system – equipped with an inline AutoLabel PI 412 imprinter – would provide a perfect fit for the task. APS is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leaders in the development of automatic bagging solutions for a highly diverse range of industrial and commercial applications.
Manufactured by APS in Ohio, US the SPrint SidePouch bagger is engineered to operate at speeds up to 120 bags per minute in continuous mode, as well as perform continuous or intermittent bag indexing to accommodate high-speed packaging of individual items or kits.
Designed to ensure close proximity of product to the bag, the system provides a 60-inch product loading area to make room for one or more operators or infeeds, with all the automatic bag sealing and trimming kept at a safe distance at the end of the machine. Built to accommodate a wide range of support conveyors and infeeds, the fast-changeover machine uses pre-cut APS SidePouch clear or pre-printed bags.
Outcome: 5-Fold Productivity Improvement
The SPrint SidePouch bagging system made an immediate impact on Trebor’s productivity. The machine was set up and operational on the day PACKPRO Field Equipment Engineers installed it. PACKPRO also provided operator training for Trebor’s personnel since installation to ensure optimal user comfort and productivity levels.
The SPrint SidePouch bagger has already delivered at least a fivefold improvement in the speed of bagging and sealing of Pro+ respirators. The packaging is now just a loading process for the operators. The parts are delivered to the load tray at the back of the machine and the operator simply counts and places them into a properly presented bag, which leaves their hands free to load the product. The SPrint then automatically seals the finished bag with an impulse sealer.
With all manual steps before the new bagging machine arrived, the operators were lucky to finish two or three bags per minute, whereas the new bagger processes about 25 bags per minute with one operator, so the immediate productivity improvement is startling.
Customer Feedback: Great Partner to Have
“We were looking for a cost-effective solution to allow us to fill and seal the bags at higher speeds than we could ever do manually, and PACKPRO responded brilliantly!
They were incredible willing to work hard with us to get us the best solution possible, and even when we realized that the machine we wanted would take extra time to be delivered, they supplied us with a temporary machine to fill the gap until the new one arrived,” Irwin relates.
“PACKPRO is a great partner to have: both from a customer service perspective and the value-added technical support they provide,” Irwin states. “They are 100-percent professional in everything they do,” he concludes, “and I would recommend them to anyone looking to improve their packaging line efficiency.”
Read the full article here: https://www.canadianpackaging.com/digital-archives/april-2021/
Contact PACKPRO today to learn more about SPrint SidePouch bagger or other solutions to improve your packaging productivity.