Pattco, Inc., produces a unique variety of Flatout flatbreads. The company supplies customers such as Wal-Mart and local supermarkets across the U.S. In the Flatout bread plant in Saline, Michigan, five types of flatbread are produced in different sizes and varieties.
After cooling, oval-shaped flatbreads exit the cooler without any standard orientation. Because the flatbread must be uniformly positioned the “easy way” before entering the stacker downstream, Pattco employed two to six operators to properly align and orient the breads as they exited the cooler, which often resulted in product damage and/or waste.
Pattco partnered with Intralox to develop a solution for automating the alignment and orientation process of a line that produces approximately 300 units per minute. Intralox recommended its patented Activated Roller Belt (ARB), which is proven to excel in aligning applications. The ARB alignment solution was installed at the cooler outfeed.
In the first two months of automation, the plant reduced its labor requirements for the automated line from two operators per shift to one during the four days per week when standard-sized product is run. During the one day per week when the plant runs its mini flatbread product, labor requirements were reduced from six operators per shift to one.
Based on labour reduction only, the Intralox solution has provided Pattco with a payback of investment in four months. Product damage/waste has also been improved by an estimated 25%. Following the success of the ARB-equipped line, Pattco has implemented the Intralox solution on all of its other lines.