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issue: July 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine

Production Highlight - Packaging Laundry Appliances
Wrapping it Up


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If there’s one thing an appliance OEM strives for, it’s increased productivity. With the help of supplier Lachenmeier A/S (Sonderborg, Denmark), that’s exactly what BSH was able to achieve after installing a new sleeve-wrapping line at its Balay, Spain plant.

Prior to installing the new packaging line, BSH Balay had experienced an increase in production demand of its washing machines for the European market.

The type of packaging material is an important factor for OEMs to consider. “Film packaging is a visually optimum packing method where the load sells itself,” says Jens Lachenmeier, business manager of Appliances at Lachenmeier.

“Corrugated packing collects moisture, which makes the load unstable and, therefore, unfit for top-on-top storage. Shrink wrapping gives optimum stacking possibilities; up to eight layers is possible. Often it is the customer’s own handling equipment that limits the stacking.”

According to Jens Lachenmeier, business manager of Appliances at Lachenmeier, the self-made sleeve-wrapper BSH was using at the time couldn’t keep up with the increase. “Furthermore, it was not a paying proposition for them to go on with their old packing line,” says Mr. Lachenmeier. Ultimately, BSH Balay was looking to reduce the costs of its product packaging.

The appliance maker found the solution in a Sleeve Wrapper type SW–VB (sleeve wrap–vertical burner) from Lachenmeier, a supplier it has worked with since the mid-1980s. “BSH is one of our very good customers,” says Mr. Lachenmeier. “BSH Balay had a thorough knowledge of the sleeve-wrapping line we have supplied to BSH in Berlin, Germany—a machine that is running to everyone’s complete satisfaction.”

Gabriel Mayor, product manager at BSH Balay, confirms this, stating that his colleagues at BSH Berlin “are very satisfied with the operation of their sleeve-wrapping machines. Our identical plants have capacities of up to 300 products per hr, assuring BSH Balay that we, in the future, could use the same equipment in case of increased production demands.”

Mr. Mayor says that the new machines have reduced the amount of work, as well as the amount of film being consumed. “The sleeve-wrapping machines’ efficiency and high packing quality have resulted in direct advantages, such as less repacking of already packaged products, higher top-on-top stacking, reduction of film gauge, and reduction in film consumption,” he explains.

The line itself consists of a sleeve-wrapping and thermo-shrinking system that is capable of continuous production and cycle times of less than 12 sec. Mr. Lachenmeier says that with a capacity of 350 loads per hr, the sleeve wrapper “probably has the highest capacity in the market.”

Efficient Packaging

In the process of wrapping a washing machine, the sleeve-wrapping unit applies film onto the product on four sides, then transfers it into a film fixation system. Afterward, the wrapped item goes into a shrinking unit, where a turning unit rotates the product between two shrinking columns that apply heat to the polyethylene (PE) film.

Mr. Lachenmeier says part of the machine’s efficiency is due to the fact that it has vertical burner columns. “It doesn’t move like an old-fashioned ring burner, which moves up and down, thus wearing out the parts,” he explains. Instead, the vertical burners are stationary, and the product is turned while the shrinking process occurs.

The use of the vertical burners also results in less gas consumption. “It has been confirmed that vertical burners use 15-20 percent less gas than a normal ring burner,” Mr. Lachenmeier says.

Another factor that adds efficiency, as well as high packing quality, is the sleeve wrapper’s design. “Our sleeve wrapper was developed especially for the appliance industry in close co-operation with our customers. The appliance industry is known for the very high capacity [products], but also for the smaller-sized products such as microwaves and built-in ovens. Having this in mind, we developed the sleeve wrapper—a machine somewhat smaller than our other shrink-wrapping machines but that has the highest capacity of all our machines,” Mr. Lachenmeier explains.

The machines are also compact and have a modular construction, which allows them to be adjusted to the customer’s requirements.

“Often our machines are integrated in an existing packaging line. For example, where the customer had cardboard packaging before, often at the end of a production hall or a place with limited space for a fork lift truck and other handling equipment,” he says. “Therefore, our SW-line, which only requires limited space, can be easily integrated in existing lines.”

Another important feature of the machine is its ability to pack various end products. “The sleeve wrapper is very good at packing washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers, as these products often require extremely high capacity of up to 360 products an hr, whereas, it would be difficult to achieve the same capacity with a standard shrink-wrapping machine,” says Mr. Lachenmeier.


The efficiency and high packing quality of BSH Balay’s new Lachenmeier sleeve-wrapping machines have resulted in several direct advantages, including reduction of film gauge. The machine’s burner system is constructed to be able to control the shrinking process so accurately that the effect of the product’s surface heat is plane and uniform; therefore, there is no risk of burning or damaging the film.


Often times, he explains, washing machines are stacked up on top of each other in numerous layers within the warehouse to conserve space, and the wrapping provided by the Lachenmeier system allows washing machines to be stacked up to eight layers. “This is only possible because the product is shrunk with a bull-eye opening on top, thus resulting in a plane surface,” Mr. Lachenmeier says. Sleeve wrapping is characterized by a film curtain that is wrapped around a product. There is a hole at the top of the product where there is no film, and this is referred to as the “bull-eye.”

“The purpose is to obtain a very plane surface, which enables the stacking of the products, as there is no weld seam on the top of the product, as is the case when using film hoods,” Mr. Lachenmeier says. “With a shrink wrapping machine, where film hoods are applied and shrunk with a welding on top, the stacking of products would be too unstable to achieve eight layers. Furthermore, sleeve wrapping consumes less film compared with ordinary shrink wrapping.”

Mr. Mayor adds, “The overall experience with Lachenmeier before, during, and after the purchase of the system has been good.”

This satisfaction has lead to several future projects, according to Mr. Lachenmeier. “We have continuous projects with one or several companies of the BSH Group, worldwide, either concerning a sleeve wrapper, a high-speed shrink line, or a hood stretch/tube wrapping plant,” he says.

 

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