Hallmark Cards - Carton Distribution Engineering Solution

Nov 12, 2013


Project Name:  Hallmark Cards Carton Distribution Engineering Solution

Project Duration:  2006


ATS were first invited to Hallmark Cards to assist with the integration of their barcode reading equipment into a new carton conveying system.   During the design briefing, ATS offered suggestions to alter the conveyor layout and modify the carton sealer.   This then enabled continuous carton flow by detecting carton size, or carton open/closed status.

After further design meetings, ATS was contracted to implement a turnkey conveying solution and additionally assisted the Hallmark Cards IT team to integrate their order/packing system with the distribution conveyor system.


Design Brief

  • Provide an extension to the existing conveyor system to allow random sized cartons to be identified by size and as open or closed.
  • Open cartons were required to be sealed (taped)
  • Pre closed cartons are passed directly to the required delivery lane.
  • After passing the tape machine each carton is to be scanned, verified and delivered to the designated dispatch lane (Fingers)
  • Delivery lane selection was to be flexible and easy to assign
  • The system needed to integrate with the internal Hallmark verification system to determine if the carton was valid and in the correct distribution area.
  • Lane overflow and carton rejection had to be considered also.


ATS Solution

The ATS solution provided complete flexibility of operation while satisfying all elements of the design brief. By interfacing with the existing conveyors control system, ATS were able to control the pre accumulation area delivery of cartons to the new conveyor area. 

Unfortunately, when the pre-ordered tape machine was delivered, it was discovered it was not manufactured as per the specification and therefore could not automatically close the cartons without operator assistance. A replacement would be 12 weeks away, which did not fit the tight time line available.

To solve this issue ATS designed and implemented a series of modifications to provide this functionality over the full range of carton sizes. This included detecting the carton size on the conveyor, and whether it was open or closed.  This allowed any combinaton of carton size to be delivered down the conveyor at any time.  Additionly, the modifications allowed sealed cartons to be passed through without re-taping, thus saving time and tape!

The verification of cartons required another phase of integration. Once a carton has been processed through the carton sealer area, the ATS system reads the verification code and passes this information to the Hallmark LACS software. This verifies the carton is approved for shipping and returns the result. If not approved the carton is redirected to the reject bay.   ATS were integral to the development and testing of this interface.

Once a carton has been verified it continues along the conveyor system and each shipping code is scanned, instructing the system to deliver to carton to the required shipping lane.




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