Combine the strengths of a conventional palletizer with those of a robotic palletizer – that was the idea behind PTC’s new APR Series Robotic Hybrid Palletizer.
The roots of Maple Leaf Foods’ growth as a company go back over more than a century, to the amalgamation of several of Canada’s first food supply companies. Today, Maple Leaf Foods is a multinational with a host of brands that are well-known to Canadians. The company continues to expand, reinforcing its leadership position in Canada’s consumer packaged meats industry.
To fulfill its mission of providing quality, nutritious and innovative food products without compromising on taste, Maple Leaf Foods relies on a range of high quality packaging equipment in its plants. For years, the company has maintained a major presence in the Canadian market, helping to spread many of the values that are now among the company’s highest standards, especially in the area of food safety.
With this in mind and in an effort to support ever increasing production and a portfolio of highly diversified products, Maple Leaf Foods is constantly on the lookout for the best technologies available on the market. Packaging is a major concern, and competition in this area is fierce. By joining forces, The Maple Leaf Foods and Premier Tech Chronos (PTC) succeeded in developing personalized packaging solutions to improve the packaging systems used for wieners and sliced meat.
Teams from PTC and The Maple Leaf Foods met over several months to come up with the most effective solution for the group.
Guy D’Amours, a PTC Project Manager for more than 18 years, committed himself fully to the project from the very start. The challenge was a major one. The team had to design a completely new machine that would be capable of handling more than 180 different SKUs (stock-keeping units) as efficiently and as quickly as possible. “From the start, we were forced to design new technology that would work at high speeds and still be extremely versatile,” he says. The new equipment would not only have to package various product formats, but also crate the products horizontally and vertically according to different patterns, as well as adjust to box formats that might differ from one product to the other.
In response, the engineering team at PTC came up with the brand new RPK Series – a Robotic Case Packer specifically developed and designed to meet The Maple Leaf Foods’ needs. “In the end, we succeeded in creating an extremely versatile machine that can be used in several situations and for every kind of packaging,” explains D’Amours.
Another major challenge facing PTC was the installation stage, which involved adapting to two completely different scenarios: a brand new building production area and stringent sanitary standards in an already existing plant. The new Maple Leaf Foods plant production area, which housed sliced meat packaging equipment, had been in operation for almost a year. PTC would need to adjust to construction risks and deal with any resulting delays. To manage the project efficiently, monitoring work progress became paramount. The installation of the lines in the new building production area was a success.
In the case of the wieners packaging machines, the Factory Acceptance Test was one of the best that The Maple Leaf Foods had ever seen. “From Day 2, our equipment had to run full capacity because we were replacing existing equipment,” explains D’Amours. In just two weeks, three complete lines were installed in the plant – a speed record!
Bill Dolson, Director of Strategic Capital Sourcing at The Maple Leaf Foods, had high praise for the process: “We were amazed with the work done by the people at Premier Tech Chronos. The short installation time frame and context were a challenge, but they managed to meet our expectations and more.”
“In the end, we succeeded in creating an extremely versatile machine that can be used in several situations and for every kind of packaging.” — Guy D’Amours
THE MAPLE LEAF FOODS: THE PROJECT IN NUMBERS
21,000 WORK HOURS
18 PACKAGING LINES