Blue Diamond has long been committed to the processing of nut foods, and product packaging has been carried out through business outsourcing. As the business grows, the company believes the time is ripe for packaging its own retail products.
No matter what direction the bottle is facing in the storage hopper, the bottle pusher located at the front of the device can adjust the bottle to the upright state. One of the characteristics of this type of bottle pusher is that it has only two moving parts, which ensures maximum reliability and minimal maintenance, while saving parts and no adjustment. The bottle pusher delivers one bottle at a time to the nut filling funnel below.
Representatives from Blue Diamond's engineering, quality management, purchasing, production, maintenance, and hygiene departments and equipment integrators, Imdic, formed a task force to work together to design the production line. Its design capability was to fill 50 minutes per minute. Only 6.75/8.5 oz PET bottles, or 20 20/38 oz square bottom PET bottles per minute. The top three considerations for the production line are quality, service, and pricing.
In September 2003, Blue Diamonds began running this production line. At present, the company plans to add a new package with a capacity of 40 ounces. The entire operation started with the NECOSORT-54-BH Automatic Bottle Unscrambler, which was supplied by Nalbach Engineering () and used for two smaller package sizes (the larger-sized bottom-bottom bottles were manually fed into the production line). The bottles are supplied by Premier Plastics (premier-industries.com/planstics.cfm).
During this process, workers poured the bottles from the carton into an integrated floor storage hopper, a ladder conveyor lifter lifted the bottles from the box to the automatic pusher, and a photocell automatically controlled the speed of the bottles. There is a circle around the storage hopper installed at a specific angle. As the storage hopper rotates, the bottle is lifted and falls into the upper part of the chute. The gripper always grips the neck of the bottle no matter which direction the bottle is facing. Grab the bottleneck, place the bottle in the middle of the slide and keep it standing vertically. The chute is synchronized with the conveyor and releases the bottle smoothly along the tangential direction. The ring-shaped sorting slide assembly gently classifies each bottle, and these bottles are individually protected in their respective slides. This avoids most of the sliding contact between the bottle and the stationary surface.
One of the characteristics of this automatic bottle pusher is that it has only two moving parts: the push mechanism and the release conveyor. This design ensures maximum reliability and minimal maintenance while saving parts and eliminating the need for adjustments. Because there is no reciprocating motion, no complicated machinery, and difficult-to-adjust container handling parts, the entire production line requires little maintenance and no downtime. The programmable logic control (PLC) automatic bottle pusher is equipped with an easy-to-use touch screen for adjusting the conveying speed for different types of bottles. Touch screens provide an intuitive, icon-based graphical user interface that makes system control faster, more accurate, and easier.
The fixtures of the production line are easily disassembled and have replaceable parts, so that the procedure of switching between containers of different sizes becomes quick and easy. An untrained worker only needs to connect the slides needed for a specific bottle type and complete the conversion within 20 minutes. The automatic bottle pusher is mounted on a wheeled bracket. If the production line needs to fill a bottle with a smaller size, it can be pushed to a suitable position at any time, and when a bottle with a larger size needs to be manually fed, the bottle pusher is pushed. Move to somewhere else.
The bottle indexer provided by CSS International () provides a bottle at the bottom of the funnel and fills it with almonds. The indexer consists of two sets of feed screws, each containing a sensor for verifying the filling cycle point. One turn of the screw can place a bottle in the right place.
Almonds to be filled are weighed by a 14-point weighing system provided by Yamato Corporation (website). This device is mounted on the filling funnel. The product falls onto a vibrating conveyor belt through a funnel located on a flat plate above the electronic scale and then into the vibrating cone on the upper part of the weighing system.
A loading space located below the center cone is responsible for starting or ending the product filling operation and maintaining the proper product volume in the cone.
The Yamato weighing system contains 14 separate weighing heads mounted around the top vibrating cone. Each weighing head consists of a vibratory feeding tray, a feeding cylinder and a weighing cylinder. The product falls from the cone into the switch vibrating feed tray, which operates at preset time intervals and feeds a specific amount of product from the cone into the loading cartridge.
Correspondingly, the loading cartridge places the product in the weighing cylinder. The vibratory loading tray can adjust the movement range according to the product flow to maintain the accuracy and efficiency of the loading. The weight of the product delivered to each weighing drum is usually only 1/6 or 1/3 of the final weight, depending on the total weight. For each weighing action, the control system will select a combination of 3 to 4 weighing cylinders (for small bottles) or a combination of 6 to 7 weighing cylinders (for large bottles) so that their total weight is not too much . Each feeding action is displayed on a computer monitor, including the weight of the load, which electronic weigher releases the product, and related statistical data.
The electronic scale puts the product into the bottling funnel just below the weighing table. When the bulk product passes, the weighing system automatically corrects itself, tracks the product, and continuously compensates and updates itself to maintain optimal sensitivity.
After filling, the bottle turned a corner and passed through an Auto200 capper equipped with the Type 12 cap lift/sort/feeder supplied by Packwest. The bottle cap provided by Innovative () is loaded into the bottle cap from the right height. The step conveyor chain lifts the direction-adjusted bottle cap vertically from the lid box to the overflow lane. The cap passes under the force of gravity through the spillway and enters the pick-up point along the C-shaped slide. The container passes under the pick-up point and the bottle cap is placed on the bottleneck. In most cases, the cap lift/sort/feeder can handle caps 20 to 120 mm in diameter without having to replace any parts.
The key to the success of the Auto200 capping machine for these large-diameter packages is the dual-motor casing drive system. The first set of torque plates flips the caps and fits correctly on the bottleneck of the container. This operation aligns the caps for the correct operation of a set of torque plates. The first set of torque plates can also be used for pre-tapping packages. The operator simply pulls a switch and allows the torque plate to rotate in the opposite direction.
Both front and rear torque stations use pneumatic clutches for optimal torque control. Even if the machine is running, they can be adjusted independently. Each of the two discs at the front and rear of each torque station can be independently adjusted at the front of the system. In twisting operations, the articulated container grip assembly provides active bottle control, allowing the gripper to work with a straight or tapered container. In order to achieve faster switching between containers of different sizes, the capping machine is equipped with a power-mechanical lifting and quick-adjusting gripper lifting system. In most cases, switching containers works almost without any tools.
In order to minimize the oxidation of the product, Blue Diamonds has introduced a packaging system from Potential Design, which includes the bottling machine, the capping machine, and the transfer mechanism that connects these devices. The entire package system is filled with nitrogen, so the residual oxygen level inside the finished product can be controlled below 1%.
After leaving the capping machine, the bottle turned a corner and passed a set of SuperSeal 125 induction heat sealing system provided by Enercon Industrial Co., which bonded the foil label inside the cap to the edge of the bottle. The bottle then enters the AutoLabe 600 series automatic labeling system, which can label square and round bottles. The 600 series includes a 10-foot conveyor belt, a product measuring wheel, a 110-type labeler with photoelectric sensor, and a 846 secondary label brush assembly. The initial labeling work is done by the 110 type labeling machine. It hangs the label on one side of the round or square bottle body, and then the label is applied to the bottle body by the 864 secondary label brush assembly. Another labeler sticks the label on the fourth side of the square container.
The bottles were then sent to a secondary labeling system that used two AutoLabe 160 step-drive labelers to attach the labels to the top of the container. The two units are mounted on the same conveyor belt. One of the unit's labels will start up and catch up with the other, so that the operator can take the opportunity to put a new label into the empty unit without affecting the production line. Work efficiency.
The labelled bottles were sent to the PD50 recirculation collection station provided by Belcor Industries, Inc., and the workers manually discharged the bottles in the shipping crate. The PD50 has two conveyor belts that move in opposite directions and has baffles at each end to return bottles that were not removed in time in the first cycle. Blue Diamond has been equipped with a Belcor semi-automatic packing system that combines the BEL505 carton binder and the BEL252 automatic carton sealer to seal the top and bottom of the carton.
The blue diamond set up a double loading area so that two workers can carry out packing operations at the same time. The system's ability to switch carton sizes can be completed in less than one minute.
Almond is the most important food export product in California, and it is also the sixth largest export food in the United States. Its annual production value exceeds one billion US dollars. Founded in 1910, California's Blue Diamond Growers Company is the world's largest tree nut processing and sales company, headquartered on a 90-acre site that dominates the California almond processing industry.