Precision Product Placement for Optimized Wrapper Infeed

Jan 09, 2010

Automating the Infeed Process

The sparklers are conveyed to a filler/cartoning machine that puts six sparklers into each carton, then closes and seals it at a rate of 180 cartons/min. A worker then manually transfers the closed cartons onto a conveyor for input to the shrink wrapper. The cartons need to be stacked into columns of six or 12 units for wrapping. Because of throughput volume, the stacked cartons would become easily displaced, which would inhibit wrapping and slow down or stop the production line. Diamond Sparklers brought in Shuttleworth, Inc. to engineer a solution that would fully automate the wrapper-infeed process. Using an off-the-shelf design that was customized for Diamond Sparkler's needs, Shuttleworth set up an in-line infeed to the filler/cartoner machine that receives the cartoned sparklers, places them in a uniform position, both linearly and height-wise for six pack or 12-pack wrapping, indexes the packs into the proper space for precise wrapper positioning and then provides a controlled-release of the packs into the wrapper.

The infeed’s multi-level, continuous-motion accumulation conveyors stack the cartons either two- or four-high as a setup for the six-pack and 12-pack wrapping cycle downstream. The stacked cartons then convey to a fixed stop, and are pushed with a shear-face pusher in a 2x3 or a 2x6 setup into a Texwrap ( wrapper. The infeed is completely automated and linked with the other equipment on the line for safety. In the event of a safety activation, the entire line will shut down.

Low Line-Pressure Accumulation

The infeed conveyors are equipped with Shuttleworth’s Slip-Torque® technology, which minimizes sparkler damage by creating low backpressure. This low line pressure throughout the continuous-motion accumulation conveyors allows for precise product placement. Should the line need to slow or stop, the conveyors can continue to accept product from the upstream line instead of stopping.

A low-pressure accumulation buffer absorbs irregularities in the production flow, and provides a smooth, even flow on the line. “Slip-Torque ® utilizes individually powered,rotating roller shafts and loose-fit rollers, which become the conveyor surface,” explains Phil Zahm, project manager with Shuttleworth. “It is powered by a continuous chain to control the drive force for the sparkler cartons, and the size and weight of the cartons determine the driving force and roller selection. When the cartons stop on the surface of the conveyor, the segmented rollers beneath the cartons also stop, generating low back-pressure accumulation and minimizing product damage.”

Diamond Sparkler desired to expand its output, while increasing cost-efficiency. With the new infeed system, the company has achieved this objective. “We process close to 50,000 cases through our infeed system seasonally,” says Reiss. “These cases are one- and two-gross of sparklers. Before, we were processing 18 cases/hour, and now we are handling 22 cases/hour, which is an18 percent increase in throughput. Additionally, we eliminated one full-time employee position. It really increased our production, and saved us a good bit of money. In addition, we were also able to complete our production run for our peak season 30 days ahead of schedule.”

About Shuttleworth

From automotive and electronics, to paper conversion and pharmaceuticals, to food and personal care markets and beyond, Shuttleworth builds custom handling solutions with low back pressure ingenuity to gently transport product along the production line while accumulating, diverting, sorting, rotating, stacking or moving product in a variety of other ways in the process. Shuttleworth utilizes engineering creativity and a suite of roller surface technologies to help customers around the globe maximize their efficiency no matter the application need or product being handled. Shuttleworth is a product brand of ProMach, a global leader in packaging line solutions. As part of the ProMach Handling & Sterilizing business line, Shuttleworth helps our packaging customers protect their reputation and grow the trust of their consumers. ProMach is performance, and the proof is in every package. Learn more about Shuttleworth at and more about ProMach at

Media Contact
David Starck | 1-720-390-7707

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