Why Buying Used Packaging Machines Improves Sustainability and Offers Greater Flexibility
Remanufacturing machinery presents brand manufacturers with a chance to customize equipment, while reducing material waste and lowering a company’s carbon emission rates.
Unpredictable times posed by the pandemic challenged brand manufacturers and co-packers to become creative in their business methods in order to stay ahead of uncertainty. Even as we enter the endemic stage of COVID-19, supply chain issues, labor shortages, and long lead times still plague food and beverage companies as they develop solutions to stay ahead of current market trends and demands.
Conscious of these issues impacting the industry, Joseph Apuzzo, founder of JJM Packaging, a co-packer specializing in turn-key nutritional powder solutions from formulation and raw material sourcing to blending and consumer ready packaging, decided to do his research before purchasing a new machine line. JJM was in the market for a second R.A Jones Pouch King® PCU-2000, one that could handle both powders and particulates, and while they didn’t know it at the beginning of the project, be able to also gravimetrically check-weigh every pouch – at up to 800 pouches per minute.
JJM found a company selling a pre-owned R.A Jones’ Pouch King machine and a Criterion 2000 cartoner, the exact type of equipment they already had on one of their production lines in Totowa, NJ. JJM prides itself in providing the most innovative and cost-effective packaging solutions for their customers, which is why their chosen equipment must be flexible so as to accommodate their assorted needs. JJM decided to reinvest in the secondhand high-speed pouch filling machine because of their previous experience with the high-end system. The Pouch King employs circuit heating technology, supports a range of materials, such as polyethylene, poly-paper, or cellophane, and provides feeding systems for both individual and multi-component blends, enabling JJM to have optimal filling and accuracy control over their products.
While the pouching machine was in good condition since it had never been installed, the equipment required modifications to better match what JJM needed, such as line reconfigurations to accommodate a new pouch transfer system and floor space requirements. So, instead of spending time and money trying to find a new pouching machine and cartoner with their specific needs, JJM purchased the used Pouch King and Criterion shipped it to R.A Jones, a global leader in the design and manufacturing of primary and secondary packaging machinery, to handle the upgrades.
“We understood that adjusting a machine to fit our application would be a difficult process,” said Apuzzo from JJM Packaging “However, we felt confident enough in our relationship with R.A Jones that it would be achievable and would potentially be faster and more cost effective than purchasing an entirely new line.”
Why Buy Used?
There are numerous benefits associated with purchasing and remanufacturing used machinery. First, it prevents a machine from collecting dust on a warehouse floor until the eventual cumbersome disassembly for potential parts before its final destination to a scrapyard. Although it was not outfitted for exactly what JJM needed, refurbishing a used machine revitalizes the equipment and extends its usage for years, ultimately reducing the amount of material waste being discarded to a landfill.
Relying on recycled materials also lowers carbon emission rates embedded throughout the entire production process. For example, a new machine order results in a higher energy intensive process, stemming from the demand for raw materials to the processing operations, producing large amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), secondary steel production, defined as using recycled scrap to make steel or aluminum, is an overall more energy efficient process – yielding 74 percent less energy than primary production.
Additionally, a used machine can result in shorter lead times. As it takes time for the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to construct new equipment, customers could have to wait weeks or even months to receive their packaging machinery. By skipping the physical production process of these complex machines, used equipment can arrive sooner and be implemented into production lines much faster. Further, since JJM already houses a Pouch King machine in their facilities, their employees are experienced with the equipment, leading to reduced training costs while minimizing costly downtimes and providing a faster return on investment.
Lastly, another benefit from purchasing used machinery compared to new ones is that it can lower the upfront costs. According to R.A Jones, pre-owned equipment can save customers up to 50 percent than when buying a new machine. Once purchased, the equipment value begins to decrease – within a few years, the depreciation loss can lower the price; however, the depreciation loss does not always correlate to loss of quality. For example, JJM Packaging purchased its Pouch King from a company that had bought it for a secondary line years ago, but never installed the machine. While JJM looked to adjust the equipment to match their criteria, they were able to save on the upfront costs associated with a new machine and reserve expenses for their own adaptations.
What is the OEM’s role?
Soon after arriving in Covington, R.A Jones performed extensive machine audits to identify what parts were missing as well as provide a comprehensive report detailing the current state of the machines and recommended actions on how to get them in the best possible operating condition. From the Pouch King audit, it was clear that the human-machine-interface (HMI) was missing. The interactive, touch screen platform – outfitted on all R.A Jones’ pouching machines – can set up any combination of feeders and facilitate safer, quicker changeovers between product types with a touch of a button.
With a foundational sense of the machines completed, R.A Jones was able to start implementing the changes JJM needed to prepare the equipment for use. One of the biggest adaptations to the Pouch King stemmed from the pouch size change – originally, JJM had been working with a 2.625-inch pouch but then transitioned to a 4-inch pouch. To accommodate the size change, R.A Jones had to change the pitch of the machine and rework several assembly elements, such as installing new wheels throughout to fit the new pouch width.
Another critical component of pouching machines is the feeding system for the different types of product blends. As a high-speed, horizontal form, fill and seal (HFFS) machine, all Pouch King machines offer a wide range of feeding systems to ensure the product is safely filled and sealed within the same operation. To provide the ideal type of feeder, it is essential to understand the ingredients being used within the product. Since the customer’s product is a multi-component blend comprised of different powder and particulate ingredients, R.A Jones reequipped the machine with the specific feeders to account for the different materials.
The Eleventh-Hour Request: Developing New Solutions for Existing Equipment
With these renovations, R.A Jones had fulfilled JJM’s requirements and had almost completed the order process. However, as R.A Jones looked to wrap up the rebuild, JJM received a last-minute request from their customer: could the pouches be check weighed individually?
Typically, pouches are check weighed at the end of the production line so integrating this new individual pouch weighing operation posed an engineering challenge for R.A Jones late in the rebuild project – offering a chance to develop a new innovative solution.
To comply, R.A Jones had to reconfigure the entire production line layout, transitioning from an inline solution to a new system with three 90-degree turns. These 90-degree turns carries the pouches to the knife cutter, to the individual check weighter, and from there groups them in packs of seven followed by dropping them into the Criterion bucket conveyor. However, since the Criterion was an existing machine, the bucket conveyor did not match the height of the Pouch King; usually these levels align which allows for a horizontal transfer system. Instead, R.A Jones needed to design an incline bucket conveyor, carrying the pouches on an upward trajectory into the cartoner.
“This is one of the reasons we chose to work with R.A Jones,” said Apuzzo, “Even with this last-second change up, they remained flexible throughout the entire process and engineered around the changing demands of our company and our customers, making the machine, and the relationship with R.A Jones, even more valuable to us.”
R.A Jones is in the process of finalizing the customizations to JJM’s Pouch King and Criterion, with plans to install the equipment this year. R.A Jones is aware brand manufacturers need to deliver for their customers, which is why it is essential for an OEM to be flexible enough to engineer around any changing demands – even those made at the last minute. This level of machine customization and rebuilding is only one component of R.A Jones’ robust suite of services. By working with a flexible, and experienced team of design and manufacturing packaging machinery experts, companies can expect greater operational efficiency producing safer and more reliable products for customers.
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