Reprinted, with permission, from Precision Magazine, Journal of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association

[Author, Bill Remes, who was previously with Thiele Technology from 1988 to 1994]

When Ed Thiele founded his company in Hopkins, Minnesota back in 1949, little did he know that today his company would still bear his name, and still be thriving today. One of Ed’s greatest ideas, for which he received a Patent, was the Reciprocating Placer for placing promotional coupons into packaging containers. Ed’s simple design led Thiele Engineering Company (now Thiele Technologies, a part of Barry-Wehmiller Corporation) into the world of packaging – and what a world it was for Thiele and all of those people employed at Thiele who were responsible for so many different, creative, innovative, cost saving packaging designs that so many of us take for granted today.

Ed’s first Reciprocating placer design (see photo) used a simple cam follower that took the vacuum cup in the placer up to the stack of coupons, and by use of vacuum, pulled out one (and only one) coupon, and then placed that coupon into or onto the carton or product by releasing the vacuum holding that coupon. No one had ever done that with coupons before, and Ed was awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent Office.

For the small Minnesota company of Thiele Engineering, this was only the first step. What followed was a series of truly inventive designs which launched Thiele Engineering onto the national stage of companies that provided technology and machinery to some of the largest U.S. companies: General Mills, Nabisco, Procter and Gamble, Carnation, Nestle, Campbells Soup, Colgate-Palmolive, Gillette – just to name a few.

Thiele Engineering also built a high speed rotary placer, capable of achieving very high speeds to keep up with the production speeds in modern packaging plants. This multiple head, “Planetary” rotation allowed speeds of over 1000 coupons per minute. Eventually Thiele Engineering used all of this Placer technology, and more, in designing Case Packers, Cartoners, and a very wide range of what Ed’s Engineers would have called their “Specials” – a special piece of equipment designed and dedicated to a particular part or operation that might be unique only to that application. Automation, at its purest.

And Ed’s designs were very unique, very “state-of-the-art,” and very well respected in the packaging industry.

Some of Thiele Engineering’s designs and innovations, which the reader may very well identify with:

—do you ever buy the small raisin cartons, filled with 1/2 ounce of raisins? Thiele built a high speed rotary carton erector, for the opening and placing of these “miniature” cartons into a raisin cartoning line, at speeds of 1200 cartons per minute

—do you ever purchase pudding cups where the pudding cups are stacked into a 4 count, 6 count or 8 count wrap, with one row stacked on top of the other and the bottom row is “hanging down” through the paperboard carton? Thiele built some of the first ever high speed sleevers (cartoners) for pudding cups.

—when you get a box of cereal or crackers or snacks, have you noticed the bag inside of the box? Many of these packages have been filled on a Thiele Bag-in-Box Cartoner currently in operation at one of the leading Fortune 500 Food Companies.

—how about a sleeve (3 pack) of Golf Balls? Thiele designed a cartoner with special infeed buckets that would accumulate the 3 count of balls, at a very high rate of speed. The problem was that as the balls were being deposited into infeed buckets on the Thiele cartoner, they discovered the need for special “anti-bounce” material in these infeed buckets so that the balls would quickly come to a complete resting position and could then be cross-loaded (pushed) into the opened carton.

—a 12 or 24 pack of canned soft drinks or beer? Thiele’s “Flexipacker” erects cartons at high speeds, accumulates the pack pattern (i.e. 12 cans in a 3 x 4 pattern or 24 cans in a 4 x 6 pattern), and loads then seals these cartons.

And Thiele Technologies Inc., which now owns this technology created by Ed Thiele, still honors the legacy brought to us by Ed and his staff. They still use this technology and his innovations to this day.

There is hardly a packaged food item, or a personal care product being made in the U.S. today where some of the ideas and concepts and designs that Thiele Engineering has introduced since its inception are not still in use. It is a history that Ed and many of the past Thiele Engineering employees would still be proud of.

Over the years several of Ed’s employees have founded companies that have also provided automation and packaging to the giants in the Food and Personal Products industries here in the United States. His impact on packaging, and his legacy, continues.


Bill Remes is the Director of Sales & Marketing for AmeriStar Manufacuturing in Mankato, MN and he can be reached at (

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