Case packing is done manually or by case packers. Two people standing at a discharge table can pack up to 100 BPM. This assumes that empty cases are within easy reach and that another person closes and stacks the case. For rates above 100 BPM, an automatic case erector and packer are required. A case packer has a linear collection table on which the bottles are automatically placed in ranks that match the packing pattern in the case. A conveyor supplies the packer with the empty shipping cases, and from the packer the conveyor carries the filled cases to the palletizing area.
Types of Case Packers
There are two types of case packers, "drop packers" and "pick and place packers." Drop packers accumulate and drop the bottles through flexible fingers that are inserted into each cell of the receiving case. Pick and place packers (see Figure 17.6) use pneumatic grippers that lift the bottles off the collection table and then lower them precisely through flexible fingers into the case. The pneumatic grippers release the bottles once they reach the bottom of the case.
Once the case is packed, it is sealed. In craft breweries, case sealing is done manually; in larger breweries, it is done automatically. The simplest automatic case sealer is a taper. The case taper machine has its own conveyor, with a device that closes the cases' flaps and seals them using a piece of wide, clear sealing tape. An operator manually palletizes the cases as they come off the sealer's conveyor.
If the palletized load of beer is to be warehoused, the temperature of the beer should not exceed 3°C. Care should be taken to avoid damage from fork trucks, and excessive heights should be avoided in stacking of pallets.
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