Volume 3 | Issue 5 | Year 2000

Many manufacturers produce a standard line of products. Others choose to do custom manufacturing. Very rarely do you find one company that does both. Pneumatic Scale Corporation, the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio-based division of Barry-Wehmiller, Inc., is one such company. In fact, Pneumatic Scale has gained a significant share of the market for packaging automation equipment by offering standard product lines, but with each product specially built to fit the customer’s needs.

That’s right – standard but customized packaging machines. “Our machinery is built to customers’ specifications, because each customer’s requirements differ,” says Bethany Hilt, Pneumatic Scale’s marketing coordinator. “Although our products include both standard and optional features, the customer’s application is the starting point.”

The bread and butter of Pneumatic Scale’s product line consists of fillers, cappers, seamers, bottle washers and pasteurizers. Its prime customer base includes pharmaceutical, food, beverage, household chemicals and personal care products manufacturers – which goes a long way toward explaining why Pneumatic Scale offers this almost unheard-of combination of customized standard products. “We are in every market you would want to be in and work with every customer you would want to work with,” says Bill Morgan, vice president/general manager of operations. Not only do the packaging needs of this diverse manufacturing group differ from industry to industry; they vary from company to company within each industry.

The Ongoing Process

Morgan credits Pneumatic Scale’s research-and-development department, fully staffed with mechanical and electrical design engineers, for the company’s unique ability. R&D, he says, “is a never-ending process that also includes new after-market products to support Pneumatic Scale’s installed base of equipment. R&D is ongoing because customers’ requirements change based on changing production requirements, applications, processes and technology. It’s necessary for our product developments to keep pace with those changes, giving us a competitive advantage.”

The direction toward strong, customer-focused research and development comes right from the top – specifically, from Barry-Wehmiller, which has been Pneumatic Scale’s parent firm since 1989. “Barry-Wehmiller is very dedicated to a strong R&D focus, which echoes throughout all of its divisions,” says Hilt.

This emphasis on research and development – and on turning out new, state-of-the-art products for each customer – gives an up-to-date, 21st century gloss to a company that is actually more than 100 years old. Pneumatic Scale was founded in 1895 as Electric Scale Company. The new firm changed its name to Pneumatic Scale later in that first year of business, after it received a patent on the first pneumatic scale.

Five years after the Barry-Wehmiller acquisition, the parent reorganized to add its bottle washing and pasteurizing businesses to Pneumatic Scale. In the following year, 1995, Barry-Wehmiller purchased Figgie Packaging Systems, and integrated Figgie’s Consolidated Packaging Machinery, Pfaudler, Continental Can and Closetech product lines into Pneumatic Scale as well. Today, the fully integrated Pneumatic Scale includes 430,000 square feet of manufacturing space between two sites, Cuyahoga Falls and St. Louis (its bottle washing and pasteurizing facility), and about 300 employees.

Filling the Market

The company’s most recent new products are another reflection of the importance of its research-and-development function. Pneumatic Scale has made four major new-product introductions this year: The Mass Flow Filler was launched in February; the Mag Flow Filler appeared in March; and the MTC Capper and Miniblock were introduced in April. All four represent further steps forward in packaging technology.

Designed to deliver a sanitary filling environment and accurate fills, the Mass Flow Filler includes a supply manifold connected with sanitary 3-A fittings in each filling head, and features a standard CIP system. The cleaning solution surges through the system at high speeds while the drain system purges all residual product and cleaning solution, resulting in an exceptionally clean filler that is ready for the next product. The machine also continuously monitors and reports total weight, density and temperature data. “The Mass Flow Filler is ideal for any liquid,” says Hilt. “What distinguishes it from our other offerings is it’s the first liquid filler we’ve offered that can handle liquids with suspended solids. All of our fillers feature a clean product supply design which dramatically reduces the possibility of product contamination – an important feature to those industries that must adhere to strict FDA regulations.”

The Mag Flow Filler is Pneumatic Scale’s venture into magnetic-flow filling technology, and offers clean product supply design and precise filling, with minimal maintenance. This filler measures product as it flows into the containers, which dramatically reduces excessive giveaway. Much of its design, including cleanout, mirrors that of the Mass Flow Filler. “This product offers sophisticated filling for all conductive liquids, including those containing up to 15 percent suspended solids,” adds Morgan. “Flow-meter technology enables unsurpassed monitoring and precision.”

The MTC Capper is Pneumatic Scale’s breakthrough in capping technology, and is engineered specifically for small cap and container users. Featuring positive container handling and touch-screen adjustment, the MTC offers the same solid construction and performance as its larger counterpart, the TC Capper, while accommodating even the smallest cap sizes. It accommodates containers as small as 1 inch in height. Morgan describes the MTC Capper as an “economical alternative for small cap and container users or those requiring a smaller footprint.”

Global Strength

With its seemingly limitless R&D capabilities, Pneumatic Scale is poised to easily take advantage of its opportunities going forward. “Pneumatic Scale has always been strong domestically,” says Morgan. “The domestic market will continue to be a major source of growth. Continued penetration of the international market will be possible through our global sales organization, with international sales/support offices. Our products lend themselves easily to all of the industries we serve so none of them will be neglected.”

“Neglect” is hardly a word that comes to mind when examining the way Pneumatic Scale treats its customers. “Our hard work and dedication allow us to make a statement that not everyone can – that we have no past due service parts orders,” Morgan states. This commitment to exceeding customers’ expectations is the driving force and philosophy of Pneumatic Scale. “We are dedicated to reducing lead times and ensuring on-time deliveries for all Pneumatic Scale brands, including Consolidated, Closetech, Continental Can and Pfaudler,” adds Morgan. “We also offer 24-hour turnaround for emergencies.”

Pneumatic Scale’s Rapid Response Team includes members from each department, and monitors each part order until it is shipped.

Whoever the customer is and whatever industry that customer is in, if it walks away with a Pneumatic Scale packaging machine, that customer can be assured that it was made with its specific needs in mind.