New levels of consumer demand are placing extra pressures on food suppliers, especially in the
ready-meals sector. Cama is in a great position to help companies absorb these pressures
With the prepared food market poised for significant growth even before the pandemic, products that offered convenience, healthy ingredients, and ease of preparation for busy families and individuals were high in demand. Of course, when shelter-in-place restrictions began in March 2020, more families were forced to adjust to working from home, schooling their children from home, and preparing most of their meals from home. Naturally, sales of easy-to-prepare meals soared. This was just one of the reasons a multi-national prepared foods company sought a new solution to automate its packaging line for oatmeal cups and macaroni & cheese. The Chicago-area food manufacturer was previously packaging the cups in bulk and without the use of a carton sleever.
With primary goals of increasing line speeds, easy changeover to multiple SKUs, and knowing the solution they chose would be a reliable partner for years to come, the company chose to work with Cama North America, Buffalo Grove, Illinois, a subsidiary of Cama Group, Italy. Cama proposed its MP carton sleeving machine, a member of its BreakThrough Generation (BTG) series. Cama’s BTG series, which includes sleeving machines, cartoners, and case packers, is truly a step forward in TPM compliant machines, and provides increased accessibility, higher sanitation standards, and a predictive maintenance program. The BTG series is designed with reduced components for quick and easy changeover, simplified maintenance, less spare parts, and reduced environmental impact. Its monoblock design allows the configuration of custom packaging solutions in a limited space or compact footprint.
In addition, it is designed with no hollow body structure and features a cabinet-free PLC with non-proprietary electronics. For Cama Group, this was a debut installation for a sleeving machine in the BTG series. “For this customer, Cama’s Model MP106 sleever offers several advantages,” explains Billy Goodman, managing director, Cama North America. First, the sleever allows the customer to expand their product line with new retail ready multi-packs, something Cama was already very familiar with through their experience with other customers and similar products. For instance, they can run multiple product configurations, such as 4-count and 6-count sleeves. In the case of a 4-count product configuration, the cups come 2 x 2 in two lanes at speeds of 300-330 cups per minute. The sleever then picks 2 cups and places them atop 2 cups, then inserts into a cardboard sleeve at a rate of approximately 85 sleeves per minute. “There were limited companies that can do the orientation required at the speed required,” says Goodman. “With this style of machine and our technology, it’ also possible for them to run a 2-flavor variety pack in the future using this same set up, allowing for future product line expansions.” In addition to high speeds and quick and easy changeovers, other advantages include the machine’s compact footprint, sanitary design, and ease of use. Cama’s fully digital cardboard sleeving machines are designed to pack bottles, cups, jars, bricks, tins/cans and thermoformed containers in one or two layers from single and/or double lanes. The machines are also suitable for clip-type carton sleeves and bridge sleeves with upper pack hot-melt closing. Cama’s sleeving machines stand out for their technological innovation, high added value, accessibility, ergonomic design, performance, and functionality. They are suitable for a variety of markets and products, including dairy applications such as yogurt and ice cream, bottled milk, juices and other beverages, as well as pet food. For this customer, the results have been increased production, enhanced ability to expand their product line and meet future market demand, and labor savings. In fact, the company was pleased enough with their decision to purchase the Cama system to order two additional systems, even before the initial installation.