Taking side seam gluing to a new level!

Mugler Masterpack GmbH manufactures a broad range of premium-quality folding cartons at its main location in the Wüstenbrand business district of Hohenstein-Ernstthal, near Chemnitz, and at a second plant 30km away in Crimmitschau. It serves customers mainly in the food sector, but also in the pharmaceutical, hygiene, automotive and other industries, in Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland. Established over 130 years ago, the family-owned business currently has 250 employees. Following German reunification and reprivatisation in August 1990, the company was rebuilt by Jens Mugler. Today it is managed by Ulli Mugler in the family’s fifth generation.

Fighting labour shortage

Baumer hhs’s new Side Seam Gluing Solution was exactly what Mugler Masterpack had been searching for to counteract the effects of the labour shortage and cost pressure. The company initially installed the new adhesive application system on a folder gluer for straight-line boxes in autumn 2023, but is so pleased with the results that it plans to similarly re-equip additional machines.

“We have to automate everything we possibly can, and simplify our processes as much as possible with intelligent solutions. It’s the only way we can produce more on existing equipment at lower operating costs, while continuing to offer competitive prices on the market”, explains Ulli Mugler, Managing Partner, Mugler Masterpack. “The Side Seam Gluing Solution from Baumer hhs for straight-line boxes is the perfect answer in this context.”

The new Side Seam Gluing Solution is an innovative, non-contact gluing system. It replaces the glue disks that have been standard for decades for bottom gluing in folding carton production.

Process improvements

The new system works with a high-performance PX 1000 head to apply adhesive to the glue flaps from below. It needs no disks or glue pots that otherwise have to be cleaned after every shift. Cleaning holds up the folder gluer for some 20 minutes and consumes about 30 litres of warm water each time. The new system eliminates this step. Similarly, the Side Seam Gluing Solution does not generate any residual glue to be discarded. It requires only minimal cleaning.

With its high closing force, the PX 1000 application head delivers maximum precision and cleanly glued joints, applying the adhesive in a continuous glue bead, intermittent stitches of defined length, or dots. With this kind of flexibility in the gluing process, adhesive consumption can be slashed by up to 50% depending on the application.

The new equipment is also easy to operate. If using the automatic mode, the distance to be maintained between glue application and the leading and trailing edges of the glue flap only has to be entered once in the Xact up controller that operates the application head. The system retains this setting from then on for all future jobs produced on the folder gluer. Thanks to the teach-in function, machine operators only have to run one box through the machine for each job changeover. The Side Seam Gluing Solution detects the dimensions of a glue flap using a light barrier, and then makes the necessary adjustments to glue application automatically. The days are gone when machine operators had to figure out the maximum point up to which glue could be applied to avoid inside gluing. These convenient operating features support rapid job changeovers and enhance the attractiveness of jobs in folding carton manufacturing – a critical factor in view of the skilled labour shortage.

Easy to retrofit

At Mugler Masterpack, the new system for non-contact bottom gluing was installed on an existing MEDIA 68 folder gluer in September 2023. It was the first time this new solution had ever been installed in Germany.

“Baumer hhs explained the advantages of the new adhesive application system to us and recommended that we retrofit our machine. We seized the opportunity and took gluing to an entirely new level on this machine for straight-line boxes,” Mugler recalls. “The improvements that Baumer hhs promised we would see, soon became evident in day-to-day operation. The new equipment makes it easier than ever for us to deliver reliable glued joints to our customers. It has taken us another step towards zero-defect production”.

The old adhesive application unit was removed and the Side Seam Gluing Solution installed in the same place. After a few adjustments and some brief training, the retrofit was complete. Machine operators immediately were able to use the new gluing equipment in production. “It has been in three-shift operation ever since, without a single interruption”, Mugler reports.

Savings on adhesive

The Side Seam Gluing Solution is a complete package. A DPP 4 double-piston pump with high-precision pressure regulation supplies the high-end PX 1000 application head with exactly the right volume of adhesive required for any given application. Mugler Masterpack can work with any cold glue that can be applied by nozzle, meaning the company can respond flexibly to market demands.

A light barrier integrated immediately upstream of the PX 1000 reliably detects the length of the glue flap. These components, together with the high-performance Xact up controller and integrated product guide, ensure high-precision adhesive application—to within 1mm from beginning to end of the glue flap. In addition, non-contact adhesive application rules out any interruptions in gluing, such as those caused by glue disks passing over impressions on the glue flaps that result from die-cutting. “On top of that, this equipment is much less susceptible to wear and tear”, Mugler adds. Baumer hhs offers maintenance kits for its adhesive application heads that extend their service life even more.

To monitor gluing from below, an LNT 300 sensor is integrated in the Side Seam Gluing Solution on Mugler Masterpack’s folder gluer. It is installed immediately downstream of the gluing system.

New equipment in an old machine

In late 2023, Mugler Masterpack also took advantage of the chance to have Baumer hhs replace the top gluing unit on the MEDIA 68 with state-of-the art equipment. Since then, the machine has been operating with PX 1000 application heads, GDX 1000 sensors for monitoring adhesive application, and an Xtend3 controller. “Our machine operators are also pleased with the large, easy-to-use touchscreens”, Mugler adds.

Although the folder gluer had been in operation since 2004, it still was possible to update it with new gluing and quality assurance equipment, because the age of the machine is irrelevant.

“We purchased the ‘Ferrari’ of gluing units for side seam gluing. We could have chosen a less ambitious system, but we wanted to go with something really new,” Mugler says. The MEDIA 68 runs at speeds of up to 300 m/min. Some of the company’s folder gluers at its Crimmitschau site reach speeds of 650 m/min. They are still equipped with conventional glue disks. But as soon as the disks are replaced with the Side Seam Gluing Solution, this new system will demonstrate its full potential there too.

Looking ahead

“Over the next few years, many of our older employees in production will be retiring. It is going to be difficult to replace them because of the quality work they do. There are predictions that the state of Saxony will lose about 20% of today’s workforce by 2030. Things will be no different for us. Most young people today don’t want to work shifts. We have to offer them higher wages to change their minds,” says Mugler.

These are the difficult conditions that will impact his decisions to invest in automation and process optimisation. In the past, the company invested considerable sums in printing presses, flat-bed die cutters and folder gluers. In future, Ulli Mugler’s decisions will focus above all on intelligent systems like the Side Seam Gluing Solution from Baumer hhs.

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