Tandem Servo Case Packers Handle a Variety of Bottle Shapes and Materials with Ease

Standard-Knapp Packs a (Fruit) Punch for Clement Pappas Company, Inc.

Servo case packer handles various bottle shapes and materials

The Versatron™ 939S Servo Case Packer in action at Clement Pappas.

Clement Pappas Company, Inc. is one of the largest private label bottlers and canners in the United States. A leading producer of the finest fruit juices, fruit drinks and cranberry sauces for more than 60 years, Clement Pappas serves a wide variety of private label and supermarket brands, while devoting a part of its business to contract packaging. Headquartered in Seabrook, New Jersey, Clement Pappas has steadily expanded over the years, building three additional state-of-the-art facilities.

As Clement Pappas continued to experience rapid growth, the company realized something needed to be done to keep up with the ever-increasing orders. This challenge was exacerbated by the extensive assortment of products—in a variety of sizes, materials, and shapes—Clement Pappas provides for its customers. Tom DeThomas, Director of Engineering for Clement Pappas, set out on the daunting task to find robust, flexible packaging machinery that would provide high line speeds and changeover versatility.

"Flexibility was very important, as we run several different bottle sizes and have to be able to easily change over the packer. This is extremely important to us, because we can change the packer over two or three times in one day depending on which production line it's on or which plant it's in," explains DeThomas.

To meet this challenge, Clement Pappas turned to Standard-Knapp, a leading provider of automatic packaging equipment, including tray packers, tray loading machines, case packers, shrink wrappers, and bottle packers. Ideal for a variety of industries, including beverage, food, chemical, personal care and automotive, Standard-Knapp's packaging machinery can handle PET, glass, HDPE, steel, aluminum and fiberboard containers.

Clement Pappas' relationship with Standard-Knapp began in 1983, when the company purchased two case packers. At this time, the mainstay of the Clement Pappas' business was glass containers. Thus, the company needed a case packer with lowering head capability to minimize breakage. "We had great success with Standard-Knapp's first two case packers," says DeThomas, "In fact; the same case packers are still in use and still running every day. One is packing cans and the other is packing plastic bottles, since we are no longer offering glass containers."

The shift in the company's operations from glass to plastic containers more than 10 years ago led to further challenges. Clement Pappas needed to find packaging machinery that could keep up with the speed of its operations. Because of the company's prior relationship, DeThomas again turned to Standard-Knapp. After assessing the needs of Clement Pappas, Standard-Knapp's Versatron 939S Servo Case Packer was selected.

Case Packer for Difficult Shaped Products

Although the Versatron 939S has a cycle rate of up to 45 cases per minute, which, at the time would have met Clement Pappas' speed requirements, DeThomas asked Standard-Knapp to incorporate another unique feature of the Versatron: "back-to-back" dual case handling. With this feature, each load cycle of the machine is able to pack two cases simultaneously. As a result, packers with tandem case capability can operate at 2/3 to 1/2 the cycle rate of a traditional single case packer and achieve the same case output. As DeThomas remarked, "I particularly like this feature of the machine, because I can reduce the actual cycle rate of the machine while more than meeting our speed requirements."

Recently, Clement Pappas has shifted from two cases packed simultaneously to three cases packed simultaneously, further increasing the speed of Standard-Knapp's Versatron servo case packer. According to DeThomas, "It's all about speed. We need to keep up with our growing business. Standard-Knapp's machinery is able to accomplish the speed we need. On an average day Standard-Knapp's case packer is packing 50,000 cases."

Another feature that was particularly important for Clement Pappas is Standard-Knapp's unique "soft catch" technology, an advanced motion control system. Unlike conventional drop packers, Versatron's servo-controlled "soft catch" lift table simultaneously begins a carefully measured rate of descent when the container is release from the packing grid that nearly matches that of the controlled descent container, thus producing a soft, safe landing for the product.

Clement Pappas felt the "soft catch" technology to be especially important for the large gallon (128 oz.) size. "If you were to drop such a large bottle on a hard surface, the label could break. The soft catch capability negates this problem. Less stress is placed on the labels because the packer has the ability to catch the bottle," explains DeThomas.

Soft-catch case packer

Packing the 128 oz. containers in dual or triple mode means that more than 60 pounds of product is loaded at each cycle, further illustrating the importance of Standard-Knapp's "soft catch" servo-controlled system, which is far superior to the drop-stop and restart method used by competitive equipment. Its importance lies not only in protecting the product, but also in reducing shock and impact on machine components, resulting in reduced maintenance time and parts costs.

Standard-Knapp is also able to meet the flexibility demands necessary for Clement Pappas. Not only is the case packer flexible enough to pack Clement Pappas' assortment of containers, the machine is also able to pack in a variety of different cases. "The ability to pack in more than one kind of case helps us tremendously, because we utilize what is called a Standard-RSC case, which has top and bottom flaps," according to DeThomas. Additionally, the Versatron 939S is ideal for plastic, corrugated, HSC, tablock, and tray case types.

Clement Pappas also appreciates the Versatron 939S' convenient and rapid changeover that can be completed in less than 15 minutes without tools. This is made possible by a touch screen operator interface, drop-in lane guide spacers, and a patented lightweight "snap-in" grid. Standard-Knapp's highly successful "by-the-numbers" changeover system allows even inexperienced operators to complete the machine changeover with confidence. In fact, Clement Pappas doesn't need to utilize a dedicated, full-time operator for the machines.

Needless to say, DeThomas is very pleased with the results of Standard-Knapp's case packers. Prior to 1983, when the first Standard-Knapp case packers were purchased, Clement Pappas bottled less than 100 bottles per minute. With Standard-Knapp's machinery, the bottle speed increased to 200 bottles per minute – an increase of 100 percent.

"The case packers have been tremendous in terms of increasing our efficiency," says DeThomas. "It's an especially tough business in this day and age with the cost of raw materials going up, including the cost of plastic, sugar, fuel, and electricity. It can be difficult to stay competitive, so as an organization, we find ways to increase efficiency. The case packers helped a great deal."

Standard-Knapp has been successful at designing vertical case packers, such as the Versatron 939S, for more than half a century and continues to enhance its packaging machines to meet the ever-changing needs of its customers. With its advanced technology offerings, Standard-Knapp will maintain its motto to "make packaging easy" for companies like Clement Pappas for years to come.