A large bakery recently approached us with an unusual vibrator application. One of the products they produce is broken cookies that are shipped in bulk to be used in cookies & cream ice cream. The cookies are cooked whole, broken, and fed by conveyor into boxes that are lined with a plastic bag. The process is continuous, and the operator was often left shaking the boxes to level the cookies and remove air pockets that developed between the box and the plastic.
This “leveling” procedure slowed the packaging process, which reduced production speed and daily output. In addition, the repetitive shaking of boxes caused complaints of fatigue from the operators that resulted in shifting personnel from one task to another, further slowing production. Rather than shaking the entire box conveyor as requested by our customer, we approached this problem with a MARTIN® NTK® Oscillator (NTK-25). We fabricated this assembly to attach to the underside of the live roller conveyor, piped the vibrator to be activated by foot pedal at the operations station, and included a rubber pad on the piston end of the vibrator to be used as a “strike plate.” When activated, the NTK-25 taps the box (similar to the shaking procedure used by the operator), levels the cookies, and helps dissipate the air pockets. We accomplish this at 5 PSI.
With the location of our “box bumper,” we interfered with a discharge/diverter plate, activated by a metal detector, that dumped potentially contaminated cookies into a waste container. Rather than moving this “last stage” metal detection to another location upstream, we recommended fabrication of a feeder pan that, when attached to the vibrator piston, would then feed cookies to the back side of the vibrator into the same waste container as originally used. We have used one vibrator to increase output, reduce employee complaints, and eliminate the need for additional controls and conveyor modification.
More importantly, this baker, who has always been a good MARTIN® Vibration Systems customer, has a reinforced image of us as the company that provides solutions. That’s gratifying and profitable.