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issue: February 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

Production - Packaging
Intelligent Packaging

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A new entrant to the appliance market, Tonight’s Menu Intelligent Oven, Inc. decided to use stretch-hood packaging to show off its innovative product.

In addition to the stretch-hood system, Beumer also suggested that TMIO use a slat-chain conveyor underneath the stretch-hood machine that was specially developed for the appliance industry.

Tonight’s Menu Intelligent Oven (TMIO), Inc. of Cleveland, OH, U.S. was founded in 1994 by President and CEO David I. Mansbery, who invented the company’s main product—the TMIO Intelligent Oven. In addition to combining oven and refrigeration capabilities, the appliance can also be controlled via the Internet or cell phone. The benefit? To keep fresh food from spoiling during the day so that the oven can automatically cook a meal and have it freshly prepared and waiting for consumers when they arrive at home.

Shortly after a successful unveiling at the 2002 Consumer Electronics Show, TMIO decided to start producing its ovens in Chattanooga, TN, U.S. While the company already knew how to build the product, it still hadn’t decided how to package it.

In early 2003, TMIO met packaging supplier Beumer Corporation at a trade show, where the supplier was exhibiting its clear-view packaging methods. “When we mentioned benefits such as reduced shipping damage, less waste for the end consumer, reduction of up to 70 percent of the material costs, and the visibility of tampering attempts, it was obvious that TMIO should join many other producers of white appliances in their decision to use this type of packaging,” remembers Sven Borghoff, Beumer project engineer.

According Mr. Mansbery, the decision was easy. “We chose clear-view packaging to assure our customers would receive goods free of damage that could have been incurred prior to shipping,” he explains. “Our customers deserve the best protection for their TMIO Intelligent Oven.”

After reviewing its two clear-view packaging options—shrink or stretch hood—the appliance company decided on stretch-hood packaging. Reasons for the decision included lower film cost, less energy consumption, reduction of insurance rates, and safety benefits such as reduced fire hazards and gas emissions. “The stretch [hood] product provides a clean look and superior protection,” notes Mr. Mansbery. “You wouldn’t shrink wrap a BMW.”

Based on TMIO’s specifications, Beumer recommended its fully automatic Beumer stretch-hood® system, which can reportedly handle up to 180 unit loads per hour. After the load is conveyed into the machine, it monitors the load height. The system then feeds the information to the control panel, and the proper length of gusseted film tube is drawn from the roll of film.

According to Mr. Borghoff, the film is crimped over the four vertical arms, stretched horizontally, and then drawn down over the load to be covered. Next, the film is positioned and released over the appliance, resulting in a taut, uniform covering with a hood or an overwrap on the top and underwrap on the bottom of the load. “This provides a strong uniform protective covering of the unit load, both in transit and in warehouse storage,” Mr. Borghoff explains.

TMIO’s system is also equipped with Beumer’s multi-stretch handling technology. With a small driven belt mounted on each of the four stretch arms, the film is reportedly conveyed off the arms at the exact position and speed required. “This technology allows for the so-called understretch, in which the end of the film is securely placed just below the bottom of the package, as well as for the creation and placement of stretch film sleeves when hoods are not needed,” Mr. Borghoff says. “Furthermore, the Allen-Bradley control system can be programmed by a touch-screen operator panel.”

Beumer also recommended a slat-chain conveyor underneath the stretch-hood machine that was specially developed for the appliance industry. Slats of different lengths are mounted on a double-strand chain conveyor, providing a carrying platform for each package in the shape of a large “plus” sign. The packages are fed from a centering roller conveyor onto the slat conveyor, which is driven by a gear motor. The package is then transported to the understretch position and finally discharged onto a roller conveyor located behind the stretch-hood system. While at the understretch location, the slats rest on a table that is designed to support the forces during the stretch-hood placement.

To save on floor space, Beumer also supplied a conveyor system behind the stretch-hood system, which is able to double the product in groups of two units. This, the supplier claims, allows forklift drivers to cut down on their pick up intervals by 50 percent. TMIO also purchased one discharge conveyor and two shuttle cars in order to feed the unit conveyor and a wide conveyor serving as a pick-up conveyor.

At press time, TMIO’s new Beumer system was expected to arrive from Germany by the end of March, in time to start packaging TMIO’s new product, which will go into production in April.

According to Mr. Mansbery, TMIO is satisfied with its decision and anticipates using the new packaging system. “The Beumer system,” he says, “allows us to have lower carrier and insurance costs and, ultimately—and most importantly—high customer satisfaction from their new TMIO Intelligent, arriving in superior condition and ready to use.”

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Beumer Corp.

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