Custom Stacking System to Keep Up with Demand

The Challenge:

A food manufacturing company approached Wrabacon looking to create a new product line of sealed cans, which could be loaded and packaged into trays. They were seeking out a system that could stack these trays at a speed that could keep up with demand.

While keeping up with rate was a necessity, precision was just as important — because any damage sustained to the product, from a stack falling over, would almost certainly leave it unsuitable for distribution. The system needed to produce a sturdy stack every time. With this in mind, Wrabacon got started.

The Solution:

Wrabacon custom-designed a bundle stacking system that is used to stack trays that have an array of sealed cans. The tray rate is 28 per minute. The stacker can stack either two high, or be used as a pass-through device, without any stacking. The pass-through tray is up to 18” wide.

The trays transfer to the stacker with the wide edge leading. It transfers onto twin belts and travels to the stacking station, where it is stopped using a pneumatic cylinder. When in position, the bundle is lifted vertically past a set of pneumatic ledges. The ledges extend, the lift cylinder retracts, and the tray now sits on the two ledges. When the next bundle arrives, it is stopped — and at this point, the upper bundle is released, placing it on top of the awaiting bundle, completing the two high stack. The newly formed stack is then released downstream for further production.


Mezzanine and Conveyor Project

The Challenge

A research and development company approached Wrabacon looking to start a new product line. The process would involve a stack of trays being presented to the system, upon which these trays would need to be denested to be individually filled with product. Following this, the filled trays would need to be restacked to the same height. With each filled tray averaging about 45 pounds, and the stacks consisting of 24 trays apiece, it was extremely clear that an automated system was the only solution that would be efficient and ergonomically safe. 

The Solution

Wrabacon custom designed and manufactured a tray stacker/denesting system that handles trays of product. The trays sit on modified pallets, and the system denests and stacks trays at a rate of 6 per minute.  
Here’s how it works: There is one cell for each of the denest and stack stations. Operators manually load full pallets, filled with product, onto a pallet conveyor. The first pallet moves into position and the system starts by raising the entire stack of trays off the pallet, and up to the cross-conveyor height. Cylinders extend — to lift the top tray out of the stack — and a cross cylinder pushes the tray, from the stack onto the cross-conveyor. After the tray has been denested, the lifting mechanism indexes up — one pitch. The second tray is then denested, and pushed onto the cross conveyor. Meanwhile, the first tray moves down the conveyor, and the cured product is taken out. The empty tray then travels downstream, where it is stopped and filled with new product. The empty pallet on the denesting cell is indexed away from the lifting mechanism, and then transported to the stacking cell via a conveyor. A new full pallet enters, ready for denesting.  
The stacking end reverses the infeed process. The empty pallet from the denesting side is indexed into position, and the stacker starts. Each tray is pushed into the system from a conveyor, and the machine indexes down to be ready for the next tray. This will continue until 24 trays have been stacked onto the pallet. The full pallet is then indexed out of the stacking position, and a new empty pallet is then indexed into position. The process then repeats, ensuring maximum success and efficiency. 


Collating System

The Challenge

A pharmaceutical company approached Wrabacon looking to open a line for a new product, where packets of product would need to be stood up and stacked in a tray. Without an automated solution, the new line’s demand would require multiple workers to tediously count and stand product packets — by hand — constantly throughout the workday. To maximize efficiency, the company required a solution that produced a neat, consistently numbered product stack, each and every time.

The Solution

Wrabacon custom designed and manufactured a collating system that receives product packets at the rate of up to 120 per minute. The system stands the packets up on end, collates them, and presents a group of 60 to an operator for manual packing.

The product transfers from an existing X-ray machine to a short, inclined conveyor lying down with the wide side of the packet leading. The packets accumulate in a pocket on an indexing conveyor until 12 have been stacked, then the machine indexes, which stands up the stack. Once 12 more have accumulated in the first pocket, the machine indexes again, and pushes the first stack out of the pocket and then pushes it again 90 degrees where stacks will accumulate together. After five stacks have been pushed together this way, the combined stack of 60 is then pushed 90 degrees to the operator, to be manually packed on a tray.

Lid Denester and Lidding System

The Challenge

A food packaging company approached Wrabacon looking to expand with a new product line. The new product would be filled into a container, which would then need to be sealed with a lid. If this process were to be done manually, this line would require four or five employees tediously sealing the containers by hand, over and over, just to meet demand.

Further complicating the process was the fact that the company had multiple container and lid sizes for the new product, and any automated system would need to easily shift between these different options without making mistakes.

The Solution

To solve this company’s problem, Wrabacon was able to custom design and manufacture a lid denester and lidding system, which could be be used to place lids onto filled containers at the rate of 60 per minute.

Here’s how it works: There are two styles of lids that fit the containers, and operators manually load the desired lid style into a 4 hopper denester. The denester can denest up to four lids at a time, and it places them onto a short modular plastic belt conveyor. This conveyor has a short tip down section to match the angle of the lidding chute. This helps prevent jamming from the conveyor to the lid chute. The lids are then accumulated in the lid chute.

At this point, a sensor tells the denester when to denest more trays. After the lids have arrived in the lid chute, the containers travel underneath and pull the lid from the chute and under a roller section to snap the lid onto the container. This roller section has clamps that can be loosened to adjust its height, which makes it able to lid the desired product size. After the first container passes through, the next container will then travel under, and the process repeats. The containers are then transferred downstream for further processing.

Tray Loading System for Cheese Company

wrabacon Cheeses

The Challenge

A large international cheese company approached Wrabacon seeking improved efficiency when it came to their process of producing trays packed with tubs of cheese.

Cheese is one of the most popular foods in the world, and in general, most people will tend to have several types of cheese in the fridge at any given time, leading to an incredible demand on suppliers to be able to continuously stock a customer’s favorite forms of cheeses wherever they might shop for it — with these suppliers including restaurants, grocers, and convenience stores. In response, many companies turn to automated systems that not only must keep pace with this demand, but also be reliable and precise to ensure trays and boxes are fully packed every time. Maximizing efficiency and speed ensures that customers will be able to get the cheeses they want, when they want it, and continue coming back for more.

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Wrabacon Helps Its Client Overcome Its Labor Shortage Challenge with an Innovative Idea

The Challenge

The numerous health benefits of fresh fruit are no secret. Low in calories and high in essential vitamins and minerals, fruits are a no-brainer as a snack or an additive to your favorite meals. The challenge, however, becomes keeping up with the high demand for these nutritious treats. To transport product in such bulk quantities, companies often turn to specially designed trays or boxes to help carry the load.

A company approached Wrabacon with an issue. Due to a labor shortage, the company was not able to hand stack and case pack their trays fast enough to meet demand. Wrabacon was up to the challenge, with an efficient, reliable solution.

The Wrabacon Solution

To fix this, Wrabacon custom designed and manufactured a 5-lane tray stacker to be used to receive trays from an existing dryer. The trays are 16.5” long x 12.5” wide and are produced at the rate of 25 per minute.

The trays exit an existing cold belt and transfer onto an accumulation belt and then onto the stacker infeed belt. The trays enter the accumulation conveyor which pulls a gap between trays. They then transfer to the stacker infeed belt which delivers the trays to each individual stacking module. Each stacker works independently from one another and stacks product on demand.

As the stacker continues to stack product, a top cylinder is continuously holding the stack in position. When the desired amount of product has been stacked, the plate/lift cylinder stays in the up position while air is applied to the top cylinder, pressing the stack. After pressing, the stack is pushed out of the stacker onto a conveyor. Once all 5 lanes have produced a stack of the desired quantity, the conveyor moves the product to a table for manual removal.

How Can Wrabacon Help You?

Wrabacon prides itself on developing innovative solutions to your challenges. Contact us today and let’s talk about your situation.

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Covid-19 Response

Wrabacon, Inc.
150 Old Waterville Rd
Oakland, ME 04963
P: (207) 465-2068
F: (207) 465-2134

April 17, 2020

To All Our Valued Customers,

Wrabacon Inc. will continue to remain open during this COVID-19 virus outbreak.

We are adhering to the precautions recommended by the CDC for safe distancing as well as personal and workspace hygiene protocols to keep our employees and their families safe. We also review CDC updates daily and implement new measures as needed.

Everyone at Wrabacon wishes good health and safety to all through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected] or call 207-465-2068.

Robert Bartlett

Candy Bar Inspection System for Proper Label

The Challenge

Candy bars are a timeless staple of American family life. It doesn’t matter if you prefer crispy toffee centers, crunchy almonds, or warm caramel: these sugary snacks bring families together, whether it’s a grandparent sharing an old favorite with their grandkids, a nice treat at a company meeting, or a tasty Halloween surprise.

Candy bar production, though, can be a far thornier process. Candy manufacturers must vigilantly ensure that each type of bar is wrapped accurately, every time. Mistakes are not acceptable — not simply because of people’s differing tastes, but because food allergies to common candy bar ingredients, such as peanuts, mean that the slightest errors can result in deadly consequences.

So, when a company approached Wrabacon about producing a manual system to inspect, label, and wrap multiple types of candy s, absolute precision and accuracy were major requirements.

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Custom Packing Solution for a Wholesale Artisan Bakery

The Challenge

Corn Cob Transport ConveyorPeople care immensely about the quality of their bread. Everybody loves the aromatic taste, smell, and feel of fresh-baked artisan bread — but few have the patience to prepare it from scratch. While frequenting the local bakery is one option, it’s not convenient for busy people on the move. A good middleground can be found in “parbaking,” wherein a bread product is partially baked, and then quickly frozen for storage. If done correctly, parbaking provides bread lovers with the look, taste, and feel of fresh bread, but none of the stress.

Packaging and providing parbaked artisanal bread products to customers, though, is a great deal more complex. Precision is necessary. Proper timing is everything. That’s why a local wholesale bakery, who specializes in parbaked frozen breads and bread rolls, turned to Wrabacon for solutions.

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Fresh Corn on the Cob, Semi-Automatically Packed

The Challenge

Corn Cob Transport ConveyorWho doesn’t enjoy fresh corn? Easy to cook, affordable, and delicious, corn is an American institution: whether it’s being grilled for an Independence Day barbeque or served beside the Thanksgiving turkey, it’s a wholesome part of the nation’s identity.

That said, while growing corn is one thing, getting it onto store shelves across the nation — husked, packed, and fresh — is another process entirely. It’s not easy. Time is of the essence. Quality is demanded. The machinery itself has to be perfectly timed to match the speed of the human operators who are doing the husking, without missing a beat.

When a regional grocery store chain turned to Wrabacon for help with their corn-packing goals, a custom solution was needed — and Wrabacon delivered.

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Wrabacon, Inc
P 207.465.2068
F 207.465.2134
[email protected]
150 Old Waterville Road
Oakland, Maine 04963

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