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Engineered plastics in packaging systems

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article image Fully-enclosed CHH products packaging system.

CARTER Holt Harvey (CHH) Packaging recently completed a processing and packaging system upgrade comprising a total retro-fit and overhaul of a 30-years-old technology KLIKLOK top load packaging line.

The line incorporated a closing machine for closing and sealing the packaging of products supplied to the food industry.

Transforming this aged application to an up-to-date system incorporating all the latest and most modern mechanical and electrical technologies, was done at a fraction of the replacement cost for a new system.

The project was completed, installed and commissioned within 12 weeks as a turnkey solution for the customer from CHH's Melbourne engineering plant.

It included many modifications and innovations to the machines, such as the replacement of traditional metals-based parts and components, with engineering plastics.

To facilitate this phase of the retro-fit, CHH turned to another Melbourne-based company, Alternative Plastics, that specialises in the design, machining and supply of application-specific engineered plastic components.

"One of the biggest advantages in performing these overhauls and upgrades is that it gives us an opportunity to integrate a number of new and current parts and components to these systems that provide substantial benefits to our customers," said John Roberts, project coordinator at Carter Holt Harvey Packaging.

"These benefits include increased productivity and functionality, reduced maintenance and operational costs and a processing and packaging solution at a fraction of the cost of a new one," he added.

One of the recommendations by Alternative Plastics in this retro-fit project was to replace the original and more traditional stainless steel chain guide capture rails that transport the products through the packaging process, with ones made from a high density oil-filled nylon.

This hard wearing, low friction, oil-filled nylon was custom-machined to precise requirements by Alternative Plastics and proved the ideal replacement as it removed the need for frequent lubrication and labour-intensive maintenance required by the previous stainless steel chain guide.

In addition to reduced maintenance, the oil-filled nylon-machined chain guide rails substantially lowered noise levels, removed product contamination from lubricants, increased component life and cost considerably less.

"Apart from the productivity gains with efficiencies, reduced maintenance and lower operational costs achieved by using engineered plastics parts and components in both new and retrofitted automated packaging systems, there are other benefits," said John Roberts.

CCH also commissioned Alternative Plastics to develop special profile clear door panels for the uniquely-designed aluminium modular construction safety enclosure system.

A design feature of these doors was a special radius bend to add a look and functionality of modern machinery to this equipment.

This provides these types of applications with increased operator and maintenance personnel visibility and access, in addition to the benefits associated with performance of providing maximum mechanical protection for safety associated with the selection of high impact acrylic quality material.

Where fixed safety guarding was required, Carter Holt Harvey also utilised some cost-effective engineering plastic materials.

They took advantage of an opportunity for branding on ready-made billboards to provide increased exposure in the market place to their business.

This was achieved by incorporating an indelible Carter Holt Harvey Packaging logo and contact details engraved on to the fixed plastic panels.

Alternative Plastics facilitated this feature by using a bromide provided by CHH on a range of engineering plastics that Alternative Plastics supplied.

In order to deliver this level of service and innovation, Carter Holt Harvey has incorporated in to its design process a well-established and high quality risk analysis program performed on each piece of plant and sub-equipment, including the Alternative Plastics supplied solutions.

Control measures are implemented by experienced and professional technical staff to ensure only the highest standard and safest possible machine system is developed and delivered to the customer's premises, and it is compliant with the latest industry standards for electrical and mechanical safety.

"Our business relationship with Alternative Plastics has enabled us to produce more cost-efficient and productive automated processing and packaging systems through the utilisation of engineered plastic parts and components," said Mr Roberts.

"In many cases these engineered plastics parts also provide a much longer wearing life than traditional metals-based parts and that's another benefit for our customers."

CHH Packaging has more than 180 automated packaging systems deployed nationally in the food, confectionary, frozen, snacks, dairy and beverage industries.

General manager of Alternative Plastics, Justin Knott, said CHH Packaging was a prime example of how automated system processing and packaging suppliers were turning more and more to engineered plastic parts and components.

"The benefits are substantial over traditional metals-based parts and there are more than 12 different plastic polymers to suit even the most unique manufacturing environments and conditions," he added.

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