By installing two new Linkx Matrix collator/shrink wrappers on its ice-cream production line, a major UK Ice Cream manufacturer has achieved substantial savings compared with the alternative of installing a single machine plus accumulation.

When the new packaging line was being considered for the plant, a key requirement was that production of the main plant must be able to continue even if the operation of the packaging line was temporarily interrupted.

One way of achieving this would have been to provide an accumulation conveyor but, as the output of the plant is up to 300 cartons per minute, this would have necessarily occupied a lot of space. In addition, to prevent damage to the cartons during accumulation, the conveyor would have had to be designed for zero back pressure, which would have increased its cost. With this in mind, Linkx Systems and the end user project team worked together to devise an alternative solution incorporating two Matrix collator/shrink wrappers.

Thanks to their extensive use of servo-drive technology and their high-performance control systems – in this case based on Allen Bradley equipment, in line with the site standard – Matrix machines can achieve a throughput of 600 cartons per minute. Provided that one out of the pair of machines is always operating, therefore, the requirement for continuous operation of its production plant is met. In normal operation, however, both machines run, each handling half of the cartons produced by the line.

Using two matrix machines not only saves space, as they feature a very compact design, but also saves money, as the cost of the additional Matrix machine was substantially less than that of the accumulation system that would otherwise have been needed.

The versatility of the Matrix machines is another major benefit in this application, as a number of different sizes of cartons are in use. The end user opted for manual size changing, which is the site preference but, even so, changeovers are easily completed in just a few minutes.