Home and personal care packaging redefined
Cama Group reinvents FMCG packaging practices, with modular, highly flexibile and fully automated solutions. These packaging solutions are equipped to deliver multiple shelf-ready formats with minimal cost and time-consuming re-engineering.
As consumers demand a wider choice of product varieties, leading brand owners and manufacturers of personal care and health products require far greater flexibility and agility from their OEM machine suppliers.
Traditionally a stalwart of the confectionery and bakery industry, Cama Group brings its packaging expertise and technology into the personal care domain, delivering shelf-ready packaging solutions. These solutions are said to surpass those from many of the industry’s traditional suppliers.
Jasper Joosten, Cama’s global key account manager for health, personal and home care, comments: ‘The home care market generally has a tendency for higher in-feed and box speeds, not always conducive to creating packaging with the all-important visual appeal. This type of shelf appeal has always been important in the food industry, making the packaging format far more developed. We are now seeing many FMCG companies looking to suppliers in the food industry, such as Cama, to supply machines that work from blanks and will eventually deliver good shelf appearance.’
Joosten maintains high output and flexibility are not strong points of traditional suppliers, with packaging in-bulk and mass shipping having taken precedent over aesthetics. ‘We see the same opportunities in other markets and with other products, where speed coupled with appealing visuals are starting to define future plans,’ he says.
Machine Integration & Robotics
Cama recently worked with a leading global FMCG brand, to develop an aerosol can packaging solution. The brief was to deliver all the key facets of a modern approach to manufacturing and packing, including speed, agility, flexibility, careful product handling and shelf-ready packaging.
The Cama IF296 – based on the company’s award-winning modular Monobloc architecture – offers users a unique combination of integrated packaging machines and robotic loading units. Through tight integration of each of the primary modules (forming, loading and closing), the group developed a machine that delivers the incredible flexibility demanded by the home and personal care (HPC) industry, but within a reduced footprint.
‘We worked closely with the customer on the design and realisation of this variant,’ Joosten explains. ‘It was part of an internal development project formulated to address rapidly changing market demands, in terms of product variety and the resultant changes in packaging formats, but without sacrificing quality or visual appeal.’
The customer still required high throughput, so Cama brought its expertise from the other industries it serves and deployed them in a machine, which the group believes will redefine HPC packaging going forward.
An Unrivaled Solution
In operation, the Cama IF296 receives capped aerosol cans from an infeed system. Each can is allocated a separate feed pocket, which keeps them separated and provides precision and positive control. The latter is a core element of Cama’s product handling philosophy.
The box for the aerosol cans is formed in parallel on a forming machine. It has the ability to create boxes that can accommodate a wide range of product counts, diameters and heights.
“Tightly integrated automation provides the differentiation”
Once the boxes are formed, the cans are picked up individually – in groups or counts defined by the packaging formula – by a dedicated multi-format gripper. The technology for the gripper was developed in collaboration with the customer. A quality control solution, delivered by a Cognex camera-based vision system, checks the product count and cap quality before the boxes are passed to a closing station, which completes the packaging operation.
‘Each individual gripper can be adjusted,’ Joosten elaborates, ‘minimal re-engineering is required when the product format changes. The flexibility and changeover speed are reflected in the machine’s other modules. As a result, it can handle 14 different box configurations and multiple different product formats. Tightly integrated automation provides the differentiation, with servo motors providing the majority of the axes control.’ These servo solutions are complemented by Cama’s two-axis robotic loading technology, designed in house to closely match the operational parameters of the machine.
With a choice of Rockwell Automation or Bosch automation solutions, the customer gains the ability to integrate the machine into their wider enterprise. In this application, a Rockwell Automation control architecture was deployed, which is backed up with customer training provided by the automation supplier.
Addressing industry 4.0 and IoT
All this development work and close collaboration with the customer has resulted in a machine that can gently and accurately package a wide variety of products in a range of shelf-ready packaging formats at a rate of up to 60 boxes per minute. This throughput figure is much higher than any of Cama’s competitors could commit.
‘We now have some amazing references in the FMCG and HPC industries, including multi-variety product packaging applications,’ he adds. ‘Flexibility is key, combined with shelf-ready cases and high line output. We can also easily address any industry 4.0 and IoT initiatives, as the control solutions we deploy offer seamless connection to plant-wide systems. To strengthen our design capabilities – and to simplify things for our customers – we are working on virtual commissioning and digital/virtual twins too alongside our in-house software and control applications that communicate with higher level control systems, while delivering robust cyber security.’
Joosten says this customer approached Cama for solution to its problem, because the group has a global presence.
‘The customer recognised that if its supplier base did not offer the technology and solutions it required, it would need to look elsewhere – which led the customer to us. We have since signed a global agreement for the supply of technology to other plants. Our capabilities span multiple industries and what we learn in one we can deploy in another – it is a constantly evolving process, which strengthens our capabilities and the services we can offer to our customers,’ Joosten concludes. •
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