With more than six decades of experience, the Bradman Lake Group is a major supplier of packaging technology to the bakery and biscuit, chocolate and confectionery, dry and frozen food, consumer and healthcare sectors.
This technology-focused organisation operates from its headquarters and manufacturing plants in the UK and USA, with regional offices in China and Russia and representatives worldwide.
With an impressive product portfolio, comprising the world-renowned brands of Autowrappers and Europack, it specialises in the design, development and manufacture of packaging machinery for a wide range of global organisations.
It can offer stand alone or fully integrated systems, custom-engineered to meet the exacting standards demanded by today’s fast moving consumer markets worldwide; from distribution and feeding systems to flow wrapping, carton erection, loading, closing and end-of-line options of case packing and shrink wrapping.
The company has taken an innovative approach to its machine design. In all instances its machines have been designed to connect and interact with each other all across a common automation platform.
The automation and motion solution chosen by the company is the Allen-Bradley® Logix platform from Rockwell Automation. By adopting this common, scalable solution, Bradman Lake is able to develop simple machines employing MicroLogix™ programmable logic controllers (PLCs), through medium-capacity CompactLogix™ powered machines, right the way up to full, 1,200 products-per-minute production lines running an Allen-Bradley ControlLogix® programmable automation controllers (PAC). The company also standardises, where feasible, on Allen-Bradley Kinetix® 6000 servo controllers and MP Series™ servo motors for its motion solutions, making its customers’ stock/spares holding far simpler.
“Well designed machines, based around a common platform come together to create superb solutions,” said John Marlee, Managing Director at Bradman Lake. “When I took on my role at the company, I introduced an ‘integrated packaging technology’ concept, the result of which now means that all of our brands share common designs, parts and spares; and they all ‘communicate’ to each other over a common network and protocol. As a direct result of this, all of our factories can manufacture units from all of our brands; giving us an immense amount of flexibility when it comes to fulfilling customer orders from anywhere on the globe.
“A lot of our orders come from some of the world’s biggest brand names and they tend to drive a lot of what we do. For instance, one particular confectionery manufacturer, with operations all over the world, has a tight focus on total cost of ownership (TCO); especially with regards to whole life costs and not just the initial CapEx. It is for this reason that we have chosen to standardise on one technology, as the engineering effort required to design, build and commission machines is reduced... and the same can be said for future upgrades as and when the customer requires.”
Bradman Lake has defined its range into two core areas, flexible and rigid packaging machines, which come together to deliver turnkey solutions, and its integrated packaging concept. “All of our machines are ‘glued’ together by a common infrastructure, where the platform, screens and displays are instantly recognisable from one machine to another,” Marlee elaborates. “Rockwell Automation is a fundamental element of the Bradman Lake ethos. We have set ourselves up as a single source supplier and this is driven by our adoption of a single source supplier in Rockwell Automation. I see a lot of similarities between the two organisations, as we both comprise an overall brand with a number of highly successful ‘sub’ brands, which have all been designed to interact seamlessly with each other.”