Cama sets the foundation for packaging evolution 

There’s so much more to Cama Group than machinery. Behind its class-leading solutions is a team of designers, engineers and consultants who will stop at nothing to develop and deliver the best possible solutions to industry’s most demanding packaging challenges. 

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Cama Group lives by the principle that it will always deliver its industry domain expertise, in-depth technological knowledge and broad consultancy capabilities at every stage of a project’s lifecycle. From very first contact, through machine and packaging design, and all the way through to optimisation, support and spares during the machine’s operation. 

Cama Henkel product pack shot
A hand soap dispenser, which is packed in a removable cardboard sleeve (Image: Cama)

The success of this approach was demonstrated recently at PackExpo, when a customer received a complete packaging evaluation, potential redesign and proposal for a fully featured automated solution the very next day… during the show. 

Cama wasn’t at PackExpo to merely have a marketing presence. It was there to deliver consultancy and solutions, from having experts on hand to answer questions from customers, representing an array of industries, all with unique and sometimes fascinating challenges. 

In this case, the customer in question was a leading global home and healthcare brand. The brand was looking to automate its currently manual sleeving process, with a packaging solution that would also be applicable for use by manual-process co-packers. 

Unpacking the challenges

The product is a pumped hand soap dispenser, which is packed in a removable cardboard sleeve that carried all the branding and product information.  

Davide Di Lorenzo, sales engineer manager at Cama Group, shares the story: “The sleeve design was instantly recognisable to consumers, so we had very little scope to modify it for automated packaging. The problem was the way it was constructed and fastened was not amenable to automated packaging, especially as the customer wanted a throughput of 225 bottles per minute. 

“We asked to the customer to come back the next day, and immediately got to work to find a format that would not only maintain the proper shape and branding but would also be suitable for both automated and manual packaging. Our sales team, packaging design team and machine design team came together to brainstorm the idea and very soon arrived at a perfect solution for all the challenges. It’s this teamwork and mutual trust in each other’s capabilities, which shines through in projects such as these. 

Working together to find a solution

“By cutting a slot in the flap that fits over the neck of the bottle – turning the hole into a u-shaped cutout – and folding the glued securing tabs up rather than down, we turned an all-manual packaging format into an automation-friendly sleeve with near identical manual handling. And we took this one step further, as one of our design iterations simply glued the sleeve to the bottle, resulting in a less complex design and a less complex packaging process. This has been placed on the back burner for possible future deployment,” Di Lorenzo explains.  

Cama’s solution was based on the impressive multi-industry capabilities of its IF318 top loader. Fed by 14 separate sleeve magazines – to maintain the impressive throughput – the machine receives 7.5oz or 10oz (207ml or 295ml) filled bottles in single file, which are then pitched with a screw conveyor before being delivered to a flighted conveyor. Concurrently, sleeve blanks are picked from the magazines and placed into specially designed pockets on a phaser conveyor, with multiple sleeves being handled at the same time to decrease the overall cycle rate. 

Cama Group’s IF318 top loader (Image: Cama)

Multiple bottles are then picked up using vacuum cups and placed into the awaiting open sleeves. The phaser then indexes the bottles and sleeves to a closing station, which uses a robot with a special folding tool to close the sleeve by folding the ‘U’ shaped top flap against a back stop. The backstop has glue applied at a slightly earlier stage, as the pockets were transferred between stations. 

Once the glue has set, the closing robot picks the completed assemblies and places them onto the exit conveyor, where there is also a solution for monitoring non-glued flaps. The machine is a counter-flow design, where the bottles traverse one way and sleeves the other, so infeed and exit are on the same side for maximum accessibility. 

Customer satisfaction is key

“On the face of it, our solution to the packaging-design challenge appears relatively simple,” Di Lorenzo explains, “but it was derived from years of experience in packaging design and the capabilities of the processes and machines used to achieve it. 

“This was just part of the picture though,” he concludes. “Our customer really appreciated the high quality of our support and our ability to consult on both aspects of the design – the sleeve and the machine. And being able to deliver these solutions, the very next day at a major trade show, really impressed them, while also demonstrating our commitment to projects at such an early stage. It is this dedication and depth of experience that wins us so many orders from companies big and small all around the world. We are so much more than just a machine builder!” 

Cama Group is represented by USS Pactech in South Africa.

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