No one wants to smell bad. Which is why deodorant is big business. The top 10 deodorant brands in the United States totaled more than $1.36 billion in sales in 2019, according to market research firm Statista. The top-selling brand alone accounted for nearly $204 million in sales, or 41.9 million units.
That’s a lot of deodorant—and a lot of plastic push-up containers to assemble.
Recently, Hoosier Feeder Co. of Knightstown, IN, was tasked with designing and building a centrifugal system to orient and feed deodorant containers in four sizes, ranging from travel size to super size. The feed rate requirement was 260 to 270 parts per minute, and the system would need to be delivered in 16 weeks.
Hoosier Feeder designed a flexible, high-speed centrifugal feeder with a scalloped perimeter to accept the containers. The system is equipped with leveling feet, a Lexan lid for cleanliness, and sensors to alert operators to jams.
A centrifugal feeder is comprised of a rotating center disc mounted on an angle and a horizontally mounted rotating bowl. The disc and the bowl rotate independently of each other at variable speeds. At its highest point, the edge of the disc is slightly higher than the running surface of the bowl, which enables the parts to load.
This type of feeder does not use vibration to singulate and orient parts. Instead, it relies on centrifugal force. Parts drop onto the rotating disc, and centrifugal force whisks them to the periphery of the circle, where they encounter mechanical and pneumatic tooling designed to capture parts that are correctly oriented and reject parts that are not.
Centrifugal feeders are fast. Depending on the part, feed rates of more than 800 parts per minute are possible. Compared with vibratory bowl feeders, centrifugal feeders are quieter and gentler on parts, since there is less part circulation. The less that parts circulate, the fewer scuffs or surface imperfections that result from part-to-part contact.
Centrifugal feeders work best with flat round parts, such as bottle caps, and cylindrical parts, such as deodorant canisters.
For more information on parts feeders, call Hoosier Feeders at 765-445-3333 or visit www.hoosierfeedercompany.com.
Editor’s note: “We Fed It” is a regular series profiling parts feeders for automated assembly. Whether it’s a vibratory bowl, a tray feeder or a flexible robotic system, if you’ve solved a parts-feeding challenge, we’d like to hear about it. Send an e-mail to John Sprovieri, chief editor of ASSEMBLY, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 630-776-0924.