Case Study

Rotofeeders Help New Canning Facility Increase Productivity

When Mexico's largest chili pepper processor, La Costeña, decided to modernize their 14 chili canning lines last year, their search for increased capacity and improved product quality led them to Fleetwood Systems, Inc. (Romeoville, Ill.). Fleetwood's Rotofeeders provide needed accumulation of can ends for La Costeña's expanding operation to assure a constant flow of ends to the can seamers on the filling lines. The benefit of increased packaging line automation frees La Costeña's workers to concentrate on product quality.

"Before we installed the Rotofeeders, each filling line had an operator dedicated only to feeding can ends to the seamer," explained Juan Carlos Olavarria, the plant manager of the chili canning facility at La Costeña. "Now we've got only one or two operators who attend to the nine Rotofeeders that feed the fourteen filling lines." Four single discharge Rotofeeders supply four filling lines while five dual discharge Rotofeeders support ten filling lines.

Compared to a traditional horizontal seamer infeed for can ends that holds only 1,250 ends, the Rotofeeder on La Costeña's 211 can line holds 40,000 can ends in its 70-pocket carousel. With line speeds of up to 350 cans per minute, the additional accumulation quickly translates into better productivity at La Costeña as the Rotofeeders require less frequent loading and operator involvement.

The increased automation from the Rotofeeders enables La Costeña's workers to pay more attention to product quality improvement. Operators are no longer dedicated to feeding ends on each line constantly, but can float between several systems, inspecting the product and processes as well as stacking the ends in the Rotofeeders' vertical pockets. The inventory of ends in the pockets is readily visible, allowing the operators a quick visual assessment.

The Rotofeeders can be loaded at any time with additional can ends without interrupting the feeding cycle. The ends are easily stacked into the side of open pockets that are at a height most operators find comfortable to reach with minimal bending or stretching. By reducing the frequency of manual feeding, the Rotofeeders help reduce the potential for repetitive stress and other industrial injuries.

Although Fleetwood designed the Rotofeeder with a small footprint to take up a minimum of floor space, La Costeña completely eliminated the Rotofeeder floor space requirement by installing their Rotofeeders high above the filling lines in an enclosed mezzanine. The ends are bottom-discharged from the Rotofeeders and conveyed through the floor of the mezzanine to reach the seamers located on the filling line floor, directly under the mezzanine.

The Rotofeeders installed at La Costeña's chili pepper canning facility provide needed accumulation of can ends to the can seamers on the filling lines.

"We are growing a new company," enthused Vicente Lopez, the General Director at La Costeña, "with the best technology, the highest quality, and the most responsive service—everything that is needed to be the industry leader." He adds that the company has seen a 30 percent rise in production volume over the past three years.

Rotofeeder features include:

  • Fast loading into pockets
  • Open pockets that allow inspection of ends
  • Non-abrasive ends supports in pockets
  • Ability to rotate in either direction
  • Quick changeover to other diameters
  • Variable speed, feeds on demand
  • Feeds round, square, rectangular, ovals
  • Small footprint
  • Extremely quiet operation
  • Low maintenance requirements
  • Low cost, short payback
Fleetwood Systems, Inc., designs, manufactures and markets high-speed, high-reliability magnetic, mechanical, vacuum and air conveying, feeding, accumulating and stacking systems for packaging, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage processing lines. Corporate headquarters and the main manufacturing facility are located in Romeoville, with additional manufacturing in Orlando, Fla., and St. Albans, England.

By Pam Ahlberg

For More Product Information: Dan Moyden, Vice President, Fleetwood Systems, 1305 Lakeview, Romeoville, IL 60446. Tel: 630-759-6800; Fax: 630-759-2299.

Alan Eastwood, Fleetwood Systems, Porters Wood, St. Albans, AL3 6EN UK. Tel: (44) 1 727 836101; Fax: (44) 1 727 841790.