Covid-19 might have curbed international travel but CWM Automation, based in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, has continued to strengthen its reputation, both in the UK and abroad in the last year. Indeed, CWM’s Controls Team was recently remotely commissioning a newly developed bespoke system for a US-based beverage company which wanted to automate the picking and placing of an ice pop line.
The existing customer, which had been in the UK prior to the pandemic for Factory Acceptance Testing of CWM’s standard 3-head rotary machine for filling vodka shots, wanted to replace a process that had previously been completed by hand. The solution was to bulk feed the product on to an inspection belt with two Delta robots per cell (eight in total), picking and placing flavours separately into a centre belt that feeds into a constantly running carousel. These are then tubed and capped.
The system was designed, built and tested in the UK with work safely completed throughout the early stages of Covid-19 and the first lockdown. The product was later shipped to the US where a team of local technicians installed it. CWM then remotely commissioned it ready for operation.
This is one of a number of custom-built systems developed for its growing customer base in the US. For a peanut butter manufacturer in Louisville, USA, for example, CWM developed a concept that could provide both bucket filling and bag-in-box lines with buckets automatically lidded or boxes closed before being palletised.
“We do standard equipment, from rotary machines to standard linear machines, bucket filling lines and bottle filling lines, but we’re confident of adapting our systems to whatever requirements our clients might need. The peanut butter solution is one of those examples because it is completely bespoke. It showcases that we can think outside the box and deliver a successful product,” says Mick Williams, Managing Director and Founder.
Now boasting over 15 years’ experience, CWM has built an enviable reputation on the international stage as a specialist in building robust and reliable filling machinery, along with innovative end of line equipment and an increasing number of fully bespoke turnkey solutions.
Joining Hexadex three years ago, CWM has been further buoyed by significant investment including £1.2 million to refurbish a dormant factory into which its manufacturing facilities have moved, increasing capacity five-fold. This has seen turnover more than double, from £4.5 million to around £10 million.
“Our ability to develop bespoke solutions has been critical to our success and particularly our growth internationally,” says Mick. “As one of our customers in the US says, ‘we’re more of a partner than a supplier’. And a vital part of that is how you deal with the challenges that present themselves when developing innovative solutions. We pride ourselves on the degree of support we give our customers no matter where they are in the world. That’s engendered strong relationships with our customers, relationships that continue.”
Each of CWM’s machines are designed to meet exact customer requirements, with all mechanical design completed in-house, utilising the latest version of Solidworks 3D drawing packages. In addition, it has its own machine shop and fabricating facilities, which allow most of the components to be made in-house.
It is also a leading supplier of quality control system design, electrical design and engineering solutions, all of which is completed in-house by its team of experts. And since 2017 it has been an official OEM partner of Rockwell Automation providing it with access to high-quality Rockwell components.
Adds Mick, “What we try to do is not just offer a single machine but a holistic solution. We might leverage our supply chain for some components – for instance, a labeller or checkweighers – but we’ll take ownership of the solution and project manage it.”
Understandably, CWM puts a lot of time and energy into research and development, consistently seeking to improve its standard products while learning how to apply automation to an increasing number of unique challenges. Most recently this has seen the unveiling of the innovative filling machine known as 240i.
Designed to provide a more efficient filling and sealing solution, the 240i allows for significantly higher speeds and up to 30% more control than a traditional inline machine, combined with the flexibility of a rotary.
Incorporating Rockwell Automation’s iTRAK independent cart technology, the CWM 240i provides continuous motion and dwelling on the same frame bed. As opposed to traditional conveyer systems, the CWM 240i has a minimal amount of platens. These platens are quick release, allowing for swift product changeovers and use of a number of different packaging formats on one machine.
Increased speeds on the CWM 240i mean you can expect higher throughputs. In fact, the 240i provides a 75% rise in product throughput versus a linear machine, delivering a financial payback up to 23% quicker. While the 240i’s footprint is considerably smaller than a standard linear machine, the output capacity is much greater. On a four-lane machine, the 240i can fill up to 240 pots per minute.
Through combining CWM Automation’s design capabilities and Rockwell Automation’s technological expertise, CWM have created a revolutionary piece of equipment which boasts speed, flexibility, reduced footprint and 3A/EHEDG hygiene standards.
It’s this sort of innovation that sets CWM apart. And as we move more towards automation, it makes for a very interesting time for the company. “The pandemic has highlighted it further because by automating you’re taking people out of the equation which would immediately solve issues regarding social distancing in a factory setting. Also, the skills shortage will again move us further towards automation as a solution to that. We’re getting an increasing number of enquiries to automate processes that have historically been done by hand. Discovering the solutions to these is what makes the future exciting.”
If you would like to learn more about CWM’s vast range of solutions, you can visit their new website: cwm-automation.com or email email@example.com.