Full overview for full performance
The old site at the Nockherberg is history: Paulaner has built one of Europe's most modern breweries in the open countryside of the Munich suburb of Langwied. Equipment from HEUFT SYSTEMTECHNIK GMBH is also relied upon there for inspecting empty and full containers: almost 50 of the leading manufacturer's devices maintain the quality of the globally popular Paulaner beer specialities and their packaging along six new filling lines. Smart tools for continuous traceability and central brand changeovers provide an overview of the complex variety of differently equipped stock keeping units (SKUs).
Numerous other types of beer are produced at the new site in addition to the German market leading naturally cloudy Paulaner yeast wheat beer. "We are still producing 'Hacker-Pschorr' our local brand and filling these into swing top bottles in addition to 'Paulaner' our national and international main brand," explains Christian Dahncke the head brewer at the Paulaner brewery. "All in all over 200 SKUs are spread over numerous different bottle types, crown corks, crates and can sizes as well as innumerable configuration versions with national and international labels." In view of the variety of SKUs Mr Dahncke attaches importance to the distinctiveness, safety and quality of the filled end product: "The challenges are clear. On the one hand we have to rule out mix-ups and on the other hand we also have to identify all deviations in quality quickly and reliably. This would no longer be feasible without inspection technology of the new generation."
It is good that experience has already been gained at the Nockherberg with the solutions of the leading manufacturer: "We have been working together with HEUFT for years now with regard to detection technology," according to Mr Dahncke who is in charge of the complete brewery and was jointly responsible for the ambitious new construction project. "It was very important for us when planning the new filling lines to have a partner we could rely on in this area too. Furthermore our employees are already familiar with many HEUFT systems which was to our benefit during commissioning." The challenge was "to start a further line every four to six weeks for the first time. This is only possible when everyone knows exactly where the priorities are and open issues are worked through in a very disciplined manner."
Ruling out mix-ups and safeguarding quality
At the same time "we have of course made an attempt with the construction of a greenfield brewery to incorporate improvements and new technologies in every area," says Mr Dahncke. Only then can the brewery, which reached its capacity limit with an annual output of 2.8 to 2.9 million hectolitres at its old site, guarantee top quality in view of the wide variety of brands. "This applies to the product as well as its dress and overall appearance on the market." Therefore HEUFT has also integrated special technologies for reliably detecting and tracing clear microcodes in the new lines in addition to sophisticated systems for a precise empty and full container inspection – and the HEUFT RECIPER an innovative IT tool for a central brand and recipe management.
The microcode detection provides a full overview at speeds of up to 57,000 containers per hour in all the labellers of the four new bottle filling lines. And helps Paulaner to "rule out incorrect labelling as a result of mixing labels up," explains Mr Dahncke. "As one of the leading export breweries we place demands on the label which in the meantime are hard to distinguish for the line operator." Therefore "an incredible amount of different back labels which all always look the same" are used internationally. It is mostly only a sentence or even a single word which makes the difference. Such details can no longer be recognised by the human eye in a filling plant.
However the employees must know at all times which order is in progress and ensure that the dress is correct. "This is only possible by means of a unique identification using a microcode." This is located on the edge of every body and back label, comprises a unique number and is just 1.2 mm high. It is not only possible to reliably identify but also verify and clearly allocate these codes using five camera systems, LED illumination without shadows or reflections and the HEUFT reflexx image processing system in each case: "HEUFT reads them during the labelling process and compares them with the filling order currently in progress," explains Mr Dahncke. "The line is stopped if there are any discrepancies. In this way we achieve maximum protection for us and our consumers." A serial fault detection with an individually adaptable threshold value ensures that a production stop is brought about each time incorrect labelling occurs.
Managing brands centrally and changing them reliably
The Paulaner brewery has already managed to stay on top of the variety of their SKUs with this tracing technology. The server-based HEUFT RECIPER is an additional source of added value. Because it carries out one of Paulaner's most important requirements: a central brand changeover. Whether container type and shape, target fill level and foam curve, closure type, colour and logo or label and crate design: all the characteristics of the current batch should be available at the same time to all the inspection systems so that they can always identify faults reliably. "In principle this is a database where we have stored all the current features", says Mr Dahncke. "It is almost impossible to organise the wide range of variants and make changes without this IT tool." It is now possible to simply create filling orders in the ERP system (SAP) and pass them on to the filling lines via the MES. "The detection data is automatically transferred to the devices at the beginning of the order via the HEUFT RECIPER and constantly checked during the filling process. This includes, among other things, the active detection of the microcode as well as the detection of the date format and relevant label contents. Therefore we rule out incorrect labelling and can avoid wrong dates."
The HEUFT systems connected to the Paulaner MES via the Weihenstephan interface also provide important information in the opposite direction: "We have test bottle logs, rejection rates and rejection reasons at the touch of a button there and can also carry out a weak point analysis regularly in order to safeguard line efficiency and productivity," according to the head of the brewery. "Of course as an IFS certified company we also have our own HACCP concept especially for the filling sector and all the relevant inspection and detection technologies have also been integrated in this especially in the area of the empty bottle inspection and lye check."
Inspecting empties and excluding risks
The reliable inspection of each individual empty bottle plays an important role for Mr Dahncke particularly in the returnable sector: "We are striving to maintain the high quality of the bottle pool with the three HEUFT InLine systems installed there. For example badly scuffed bottles are automatically rejected." The reliable optical detection of finish faults, among other things, is also safety related and increasingly necessary for Mr Dahncke. Another HEUFT InLine along the new non-returnable line finds critical faults as well as aesthetic flaws. The complete inspection also covers the ACL area of the new 0.4 litre Paulaner Zwickl beer bottles there due to special filter and evaluation masks. Therefore scratches or inclusions are even easy to identify in this "difficult" area.
This also applies to the areas covered by closure elements along the returnable line for swing top bottles. "The subject of lye is also a major issue here," says Mr Dahncke. Because the closures are often over the bottle opening. There is then a danger of the cleaning lye from the washing machine remaining in the bottle and endangering the health of the consumer. Even minute amounts are also reliably detected by the high frequency technology which is already integrated in the inspector. Redundancy has been quite deliberately created with two further compact HEUFT fluid modules before the filler. "In all we therefore have three lye inspection units there in order to ensure one hundred percent that no residual lye is in the swing top bottle."
A total of six empty case inspectors from HEUFT check, among other things, the unpackability, the non-brand bottle proportion, the colour and the design of the returned reusable crates before sorting and inspecting the empty bottles. The HEUFT LX covers each individual compartment in the course of this using LED illumination and five cameras which can be automatically adjusted and centred: even standard crates which only contain a single swing top bottle and could cause serious problems in the unpacker are therefore removed in good time. The HEUFT canLine empty can inspector protects against closer problems along the can line: it detects misshapen openings and dented flanged edges but also dents in the inner wall as well as contamination on the base of the empty cans with only one top-down camera. An add-on module carries out the batch related verification of the best before dates on the outside of the container bases. Here the HEUFT RECIPER also informs the compact inspector in real time about the specific characteristics of the product currently being filled.
Protecting the full container and dressing it perfectly
The same applies to the five HEUFT SPECTRUM VX systems installed after the filler which carry out a safe fill management and precise full container inspection. They check the filling quantity of the bottles using high-frequency or X-ray technology. Faulty filler valves which are responsible for detected underfills or overfills are identified in good time. The devices along the glass line also provide a bottle burst detection in addition to one for fill tubes: the filler is automatically reduced to half power if a bottle bursts in it in order to remove broken glass and to consistently discard adjacent bottles which may possibly have been contaminated by flying glass splinters. This is achieved during a sophisticated interaction of highly precise container tracking and conveyor control with the HEUFT synchron. Furthermore the fill management systems check the presence, colouration, alignment and integrity of the closures using sensor and optical technologies.
Swing tops are even subjected to a double leakage check – with HEUFT exciter modules for ultrasonic fobbing. Compact ultrasonic carriers can be found at the Nockherberg where another manufacturer's ultrasonic bath was previously used. According to Mr Dahncke this not only has advantages relating to hygiene but also to the detection technologies: "Each individual bottle passes the carrier on a single lane. They went through the bath in groups which was not good for the sides of the bottles. However the ultrasonic waves are only as good in the middle depending on how far they reach." The two HEUFT exciter devices cover each bottle with the same intensity in comparison: "The detection operates with few problems and the changeover has really paid off until now."
There are other HEUFT SPECTRUM VX systems after the labellers which control the label check, BBD verification as well as the smart microcode detection. In addition they each carry out a further fill level detection using X-ray technology for good measure. The result: perfectly dressed full containers in premium quality. Last but not least a total of four HEUFT GX full case checks examine whether they look good in the crate too. The homogeneous contents with perfect, correctly sealed bottles are also examined in the course of this as well as the geometry and therefore the safe transportability, stackability and storability of the full Paulaner crates.
Conclusion: increasing quality and productivity
Mr Dahncke is equally satisfied with the detection, tracing and rejection reliability of the HEUFT equipment as with the central brand changeover: "The agreed specifications have been completely fulfilled during the acceptance of the individual lines." The false rejection rates are also in line with the agreed minimum value. All this boosts productivity: "We have installed and commissioned a completely new production and logistics site within 16 months. This included the starting up of six filling lines – a mammoth task which we managed extremely well. We can now already fill approximately 3.5 million packaging units in 24 hours with this configuration. We are presenting implementing further optimisations and productivity gains after the first year has been completed under the heading 'Starting up and stabilising'."
At the same this has ensured what is particularly important for the quality conscious Paulaner brewery: "To more than meet the expectations of the consumer regarding the consumption of one of our beers." The installed in-line inspection technology is "a key success factor" for the head of the brewery in connection with this. He is therefore proud of what has been achieved: "We can now slowly enjoy what we have accomplished. Of course HEUFT has also made a major contribution to this. Their co-operation was always extremely committed and target-oriented. HEUFT has proved to be a competent and professional partner throughout the complete project."