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Friesland Group choose Dimac St@r T45 tray packers

to enhance capability of Belgium production plant. The Friesland Group was established in Benelux in the 1930's and is today one of the most important dairy groups in Europe, with major production sites in the Netherlands and Belgium and branches in most other European and non-European countries.

Friesland's most innovative and important facility is located in Lumen, Belgium. The main items produced in this unit are whipped cream and milk drinks flavoured with chocolate and cream. With an area of 33,000 square metres and a 10,000-pallet warehouse, the plant produces 500 different product types and has a daily stock of more than 1300 pallets.

The need to produce different types of packaging on the same line led Friesland to choose Dimac. Initially three St@r T45 tray packers were developed with a capability of carrying out 18 different formats and the ability to pack of up to 45 packs a minute. Following installation, because of the machine's high level of flexibility, Friesland itself was able to develop a large number of additional formats for each machine.

A major feature of Dimac machines is the simplicity with which new formats can be introduced. This is based on a patented CAD system, which allows introduction of up to 64 formats for each machine, directly from the operator control panel, without the need for programming via PLC. Another benefit is the speed of format changeover. In the case of Friesland, they are able to complete a changeover in less than 10 minutes and immediately resume operations at maximum production speed.

Friesland's packaging hall is an example of the maximum flexibility required at European level. Because of the large number of private labels which have to be produced for each line, format changes occur as often as every 3-4 hours and the Dimac machine has made it possible for them to minimise downtime resulting from these continues production changes.

The St@r packers allows the operator to select a format by simply recalling it using an Allen Bradley touch screen panel featuring icon graphics. The St@r can also generate any type of packaging by means of an automatic calculation system according to customer needs. This flexibility is linked to a uniquely innovative technical feature which even at high speeds makes it possible to control the unwinding of the film, based on the trajectory described by the wrapping bar, no matter how large or small or heavy or light the product is. The simple design means it is easy to clean and maintain, speeding up format changes and servicing. Electronic cams ensure quick cutting and automatic image centering, even when operating at speeds up to 60 or more packs a minute.

Software has been developed in house which means that Dimac technicians are able to respond immediately to changing market requirements. Downtime has a significant impact on an industry who are on tight margins and their earnings are directly related to productivity. To help counter-act this issue, Dimac have developed a remote assistance service which allows them to monitor any component of a machine, identify the source of the problem, and by utilising their capillary service network, minimise the downtime ensuring the machine is back to full operation as quickly as possible.

For technical information please contact John Hawkins at email: johnh@aetna.co.uk

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