Review: Future-proof HEUFT solutions at BrauBeviale

Plastic waste prevention, high-speed filling and digitisation: BrauBeviale in Nuremberg focused on current trends and the future issues of the industry in the middle of November. Future-oriented solutions could be experienced, with which relevant and future challenges in terms of product quality and safety can be easily and reliably achieved, especially on the HEUFT SYSTEMTECHNIK GMBH stand at the most important capital goods exhibition of the year for the beverage industry. Therefore the medium-sized family company also remains on a consistent course of innovation on the occasion of its 40th anniversary and already has "the solutions of the future now" in keeping with the motto of the entire exhibition.

Too much plastic: beverage bottles made of glass are back in fashion! While sales of non-returnable PET containers in Germany fell by more than ten per cent up to September 2019 compared to the previous year, the returnable glass segment alone recorded a significant increase of six per cent in the same period after double-digit growth of more than ten per cent in the previous two years. Returnable glass bottles are celebrating a real comeback especially in the non-alcoholic beverages sector: their share had already climbed to 13.9 per cent by 2017 and almost reached the same level as PET.

It seems that the consumer has had enough of plastic waste and is increasingly turning to non-alcoholic beverages in glass primary packaging material for environmental reasons alone. A growing aesthetic awareness on the part of the consumers of mineral water and soft drinks also plays an important role: designer and individualised glass bottles simply look more elegant and make a better impression on a set table than plain plastic containers. Accordingly more and more large and small bottlers are increasingly relying on this proven packaging material. But the glass comeback also threatens the return of a risk to the safety of the end product which should not be underestimated: contamination due to dangerous glass splinters.


Not only detecting glass in glass

This makes a reliable foreign object inspection for the precise detection of glass in glass in empty and full containers all the more important and this was therefore also one of the main topics on the HEUFT stand, of almost 400 square metres, at BrauBeviale 2019. The all-surface empty bottle inspection with one of the two HEUFT InLine II systems presented live already makes glass splinters visible and thus removes contaminated containers consistently. In the meantime hardly a bottler can do without a full container inspector in order to also ensure this with bottles which have already been filled and sealed.

Provided that, like the HEUFT eXaminer II XOS exhibition highlight, it is not only equipped with superior camera and image processing technologies, among other things, for the reliable identification of bits of paper, mould or film in the drink but also with the pulsed X-ray technology available exclusively from HEUFT which has again been consistently further developed in order to yet again increase coverage, precision and lifetime during the full container inspection for a glass in glass detection. Therefore great interest was shown in this new generation end of line system in particular by the bottlers of non-alcoholic beverages.


Inspecting empty and filled beverage cans thoroughly

The highly motivated HEUFT exhibition team was also able to register an increasing interest in the subject of glass splinter detection in the beer sector. No wonder: glass bottles continue to make up the major share of the primary packaging material used here. In Germany it has been over 80 per cent for years but has been declining slightly recently because another type of container is also experiencing a renaissance: the beverage can. In 2018 a total of 3.5 thousand million cans were sold in Germany again, over 30 times more than in 2005, shortly after the introduction of the one-way deposit. A good 40 per cent of these were filled with beer. But numerous energy drinks are also filled into this container and their recycling rate has stabilised at an impressive 99 per cent according to the Forum Getränkedose (beverage can forum). The advantages are obvious: the thin walled containers are unbreakable, light, quick to cool and space-saving – simply "convenient" for the consumer. The beverage producer is particularly impressed by the high filling outputs of far more than 100,000 cans per hour in addition to logistical advantages.

However these can only be maintained with a state-of-the-art empty can inspector which prevents line standstills and production downtimes due to closer obstructions by detecting and sorting out oval shaped and therefore unsealable containers in good time. And that even in the absolute high-speed section! The brand new, space-saving HEUFT canLine II which also makes, among other things, empty cans with dented inner walls and foreign objects on the base clearly visible with adaptive LED lighting and only one intelligent top-down sensor camera was therefore constantly besieged by interested parties on all three days of the exhibition. The feedback for the new HEUFT eXaminer II XS which not only detects metal in metal but also all types of high density foreign objects in already filled and sealed beverage cans with optimised pulsed X-rays at the other end of the line was also very promising.


Already benefiting from the advantages of digitisation today

The same applies to modern full container checks and fill management systems which, among other things, measure the fill level and internal pressure of a wide variety of beverage packaging as well as checking closure integrity and tightness. The technology leader at BrauBeviale was therefore able to present a logical product range not only for perfect glass bottles and beverage cans in top quality together with the semi-modular HEUFT TORNADO II dynamic labeller – with modular systems of the new generation which can be flexibly adapted to all conceivable applications. From an empty bottle inspector to a foreign object detection in filled containers and a 360° label inspection: virtually all the systems showcased are based on the highly automated HEUFT SPECTRUM II platform.

It already offers, with even more performance, precision and availability, what many exhibition visitors still considered to be a future topic for the industry: the advantages of digitisation and system technology 4.0 – with networked devices which not only exchange information with each other in real time and therefore, among other things, carry out fully automatic brand changes but also speak directly to the user in order to provide him with comprehensive audiovisual support for an error-free, tamper-proof operation and full process monitoring. Therefore HEUFT SYSTEMTECHNIK GMBH remains on the consistent course of innovation which has made it great even 40 years after its foundation. This was celebrated extensively at BrauBeviale with more than 500 customers and partners at a proper anniversary party on the stand.