Barry-Wehmiller Network


The World is Flat

by Donna Wolfe | Nov 06, 2015
For centuries, it was assumed that the World was flat. Through the diligent work of scholars and mathematicians, aided in no small part by Discoverer Christopher Columbus, it was ultimately determined that the Earth is indeed round. For the modern Packaging World, the reverse has come true. For over a decade, many of the most popular accumulation solutions were round (and tall), so it was widely assumed that the “buffering and accumulation” segment of the Packaging World was round. However, through the work of efficiency-seeking, safety-conscious packaging professionals and a modern day Discoverer, it has been determined that the best method of buffering and accumulation is ultimately....Flat.
Dorian (Don) Steeber is widely recognized around the world as the Discoverer of modern accumulation and buffering solutions. Don holds more than 20 patents, many pertaining to container buffering and accumulation. While he has been instrumental in the development of numerous types of buffering systems, his latest may be his proudest accomplishment.  

Steeber comments, “Over the last 5 few years, I spent a lot of time with customers, actually listening to what the market wanted from single file buffering systems. It became clear to me that customers saw some inherent flaws in round, vertical FIFO buffering systems. Sometimes that was hard for me to hear these concerns, as I was very involved in the creation and evolution of that technology. I was listening, but there really seemed to be no alternative solution. So, I took it upon myself to develop what Packaging customers told me they wanted, a flat buffering system with some of the same advantages as round machines, but without many of the disadvantages.” “I have helped develop many types of single file high-speed buffering systems. Some of those systems were round and some were rectangular, but most all of them were vertical and some very tall. The most popular of those systems also uses an expensive proprietary chain that is costly to replace. In addition, some tall buffering systems also present some safety concerns,” says Steeber.   

Manufacturers are more worried than ever about the safety of their maintenance team members and operators. Maintenance team members may have to climb high into a vertical buffering machine to repair or maintain the system. Also, falling bottles are always a concern, from both a safety and a product loss perspective.  “I realized that the market was ready for a safer, more effective solution.”  He laughs, “I became a convert....I began screaming that “The World is Flat” to anyone that would listen."

When an experienced Discoverer and developer like Don Steeber screams, someone is bound to listen. “BW Container Systems had the best understanding of what the market was looking for with regard to buffering. I attribute that market knowledge to the fact that BW Container Systems has decades of experience providing line design, conveyor manufacturing and line control solutions,” says Steeber. 

As it turned out, BW Container Systems owns the highly respected AMBEC conveyance brand and with it, hundreds of man years of experience and a wealth of application expertise.  “Market knowledge, combined with a great company culture and the financial wherewithal to launch a Global product made me very comfortable in joining the team,”says Steeber.   Don and his team quickly went to work to commercialize his latest and greatest, market-driven “buffering and accumulation” concept. The result was an innovative, horizontal table called “AdaptA.”

The AdaptA Series has two models. The first is called the AdaptA ML. This is a multi-lane, high speed buffering table that offers pressure-less, first in-first out accumulation. Accumulation times vary from 3-7 minutes depending on the size of the ML and the size and speed of the product.  

The second model in the AdaptA series is called the MB, which is short for “mini-buffer.” The AdaptA MB is designed to accomplish two main objectives. First and most frequently, it provides consistent and ideal container flow to downstream equipment, resulting in higher equipment efficiency.   In essence, the MB is a line control solution. Secondly, the system acts as mini-accumulation device should the packaging line need to empty a machine due to downstream stoppages. A common use for the MB is to be able to empty out sleeve labelers during downstream stoppages, ensuring that the primary product is not damaged by steam in the labeler.  

According to Scott Smith, BW Container Systems’ Director of Global Business Development, “AdaptA’s appeal transcends both vertical and geographic markets. The technology has proven to be very well accepted, particularly in several market segments: wine and distillery, home and personal care, nutraceuticals and food. From a market standpoint, the drivers of this technology are first in - first out, pressure-less conveyance and accumulation, simplified line controls and most importantly...line efficiency.”  

“From what we are told by our clients, the AdaptA traits that give us a competitive advantage over traditional round, vertical systems are better safety, lower cost of replacement chain, better line of sight in the plant and the reduction in product damage due to falling bottles,” says Smith.   


With installations on 3 continents and within many of the world’s leading CPG companies, the AdaptA series certainly seems to be proving to the Packaging Industry that the World is Flat. 

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