Chris Turner, sales director, Roberts PolyPro told FoodProductionDaily.com the company installed the machine with its first client last week.
“There is already a need for 600 bottles per minute,” he said. “This particular customer is up to 600 bottles per minute, but there is a need for this product over quite a few customers.”
The continuous motion roll-feed design is used to join bottles to create 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 packs with HDPE handles.
The company has made reductions in the material used in its handles. The most recent recyclable HDPE handles are light and strong, and the cost compared to the previous generation has fallen by 26%, mainly from a 28% reduction in material sourced per handle.
In the past, handles were applied at the end of the packaging line to bottles already packed in cases, limiting throughput to less than 500 bottles per minute. The new machine can be used straight after the capper, allowing for a faster speed.
The handle applicator reduces the volume of material used, reduces material costs, and needs less operator involvement, the company claims.
Operators do not have to fill stacks of handles into a machine magazine any more, but can just load a roll of handles onto the machine. Changing rolls is done by welding one roll to the next. These features reduce labor costs, the company claims.
Secondary packaging is still in demand
If food manufacturers are trying to reduce the amount of packaging on their products, additional pieces such as handles could be the first area to be affected. But the functional benefits of handles are keeping them in demand, Turner added.
“Handles are a form of secondary packaging, and this adds mobility for the consumer,” he said. “If a soccer mum is doing drinks for the team, it’s easier to grab two six packs than all the bottles. It adds convenience.
“There’s always the need for some sort of bundling system, and there’s advantages and disadvantages to each of them. For example, shrink wrap, once you break it, you have loose wrapping.
“With our product you can fix it in the market place and just put another handle on it – we have manual applicators as well.”
Roberts PolyPro, a brand from Pro Mach, offers product packaging for consumer goods. This includes plastic and paper bottle carriers, box handles, pour spouts, j-hooks and feeder and folder/gluer machinery.