When Gebo Cermex (part of AUSPACK 2019 exhibitor Sidel Group) installed an Industry 4.0-enabled end-of-line system at Unilever’s plant in Dubai, including the WB46 wrap-around case packer, the round pots of skin cream produced at the factory posed a problem – but one that Gebo Cermex handily solved.

The skin cream pots’ circular shape meant they did not offer the necessary counter-pressure for a perfect sealing operation, and this was further complicated by the use of trays with short flaps.

“As you can imagine, it is even more challenging when speeds of up to 25 trays per minute are reached,” said Didier Saussereau, packing product manager at Gebo Cermex. “This is why the sealing station was equipped with specific adaptations and pressing plates to guarantee a perfectly squared sealing of the trays, while protecting the pots across the entire process.”

The WB46 unit installed at Unilever Dubai handles six different formats of pots and trays. It features automatic adjustments and digital counters, and unlock/lock buttons set to perform five-minute changeovers. Skin cream pots coming off the line are collected and packed into trays, then shrink-wrapped before being stacked and loaded into American cases.

The unit is “operator-centred”, says Gebo Cermex, with an ergonomic design, easy loading, and large guarding doors for optimal visibility; additionally, for hygiene purposes, the manufacturer has limited horizontal surfaces and used FDA-approved thermoplastic timing belts.

Saussereau says this system is a good example of Gebo Cermex’s ability to tailor solutions that meet a customer’s needs. “The capacity for equipment customisation is one of Gebo Cermex’s strongest assets. Our pragmatic R&D process combined with a 360° approach to end-of-line projects means we can partner with manufacturers to overcome any specific challenge.

“This is what we call ‘Performance through Understanding’,” he said.

According to Jean-Philippe Beduneau, strategic key account director for Unilever at Gebo Cermex, the WB46 is a benchmark for the equipment manufacturer’s Industry 4.0 ambitions.

“It comes with a user-friendly, multi-touch PC panel, based on a tablet-approach navigation; it features an RFID login, user and data management, alarm and statistic reports, plus remote connectivity and standard operating procedures with its ‘One Point Lesson’ database.

“In addition, we can integrate robotic modules for product collation and loading in the WB46 packer, thus raising the bar even further in terms of product protection and flexibility,” he said.

“These are only a handful of features that demonstrate how the solution massively contributes to accelerating, facilitating, and improving operability and maintainability.”

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