20 November 2023
This month, one of the UK’s leading designers and manufacturers of automated and robotic packing and palletising solutions has received its third six-figure order from an innovative manufacturer of environmentally sound equestrian products.
PACE Mechanical Handling will follow up on its two previous projects for BedMax in the New Year when it starts installing a state-of-the-art packing line at the company’s Newark factory.
Bedmax, which makes dust-free horse bedding from pine wood shavings, will use PACE’s machinery to pack Hotmax dust-wood logs, a byproduct of the manufacturing process.
One of the unique features of Bedmax is that the bedding is dust-free, which appeals to professional horse trainers.
As a business that seeks to use everything that enters its factory, Bedmax’s production team realised they could use the dust extracted from the pine shaving to form fuel logs.
The extracted dust is pre-dried, allowing it to be extruded under pressure into densely compacted wood heat logs bound together by the natural lignin inherent in the wood.
PACE’s end-of-line solution comprises an automatic sack presenter, complete bag control (CBC) and robotic stack and wrap, which will work with Hotmax’s three types of packaging: 10 and 20kg bales in weatherproof material and 10kg paper sacks.
PACE received the order for the Newark site after successfully installing similar lines at Bedmax’s factories in Northumberland and Andover.
“The end-of-line solution that we have developed for Bedmax is one of our most sophisticated yet,” says Nick Cesare, managing director. “We have developed a new way of receiving the logs and have modified how the bag clamp works so that it can heat seal the plastic bags with their gusset-out style and stitch the paper packs, which are gusset-in. We have learned a lot from installing the first two lines and will be making further enhancements to the third line, and once that has proven itself, we will retrofit the changes to the first two lines.”
Before working with PACE, Bedmax relied on old and inefficient coal-packing machinery at all three sites.
“We have an ethos of continuous improvement and refinement,” says Bedmax’s founder and managing director Tim Smalley. “We are always trying to improve the worst part of our process, and at the moment at Newark, that is how we pack our products. It is labour-intensive and difficult work. At our other sites, PACE’s end-of-line solution runs 24/7 and is reliable, accurate and easy to service and maintain. We want to have the same peace of mind at Newark.”
As well as being more efficient, each of the £150,000 lines has a smaller footprint than the coal packing machines they replace, making the factory tidier and easier to work in.
Production of Bedmax began in 2000 at Greymare in a purpose-built plant. Hotmax fuel logs were launched in 2008, by which time the company was exporting its bedding to France, Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic and was chosen as the official choice of bedding at the Badminton Horse Trails. Today, the company has a turnover of over £17m and employs 60 people across its three sites.
PACE Mechanical Handling was established in 1996 and uses four core products to develop reliable, efficient and cost-effective automated packaging and palletising solutions: the Gemini twin head weigher, Orion Weigher, Orion Weigher and sack placer and the CBC sack placer and stitcher line.
Thanks to its long-standing partnership with Motoman of Japan, PACE Mechanical Handling offers a wide range of robots, from pick and place up to specialist heavy lifting models. By having its own team of fabricators and software engineers and extensive experience in designing and installing complete production lines, Nick and his team can deliver everything from a small automated packing robot to a complete turnkey solution.