Line optimisation pays off

Many bottling lines could work much more efficiently. The brilliant development in the field of "line optimisation" shows that the performance range of HEUFT SYSTEMTECHNIK GMBH goes far beyond the production and installation of control and labelling machines. The following article (originally published on 17th April in the German edition of Brauwelt spezial 16-17/03, page 509 ff.) explains what line optimisation means in detail:

Optimised bottle transport

An optimised filling line at the Hoepfner privately-owned brewery in Karlsruhe, Germany, with an output of 40,000 bottles per hour and a new labelling machine and inspection unit as well as optimisation regarding noise development and bottle flow is presented in the following report.

The labelling machine and inspector of the bottle filling line (output 40 000 bottles/hr) had to be replaced with new machines. An invitation to tender was prepared together with the Gaissmaier firm of consulting engineers. Further criteria comprised a considerable reduction in noise, the perfect placing of inspected "correct" bottles at the filler and packer, an overall improvement to the bottle flow along the line as well as the integration of a new inspector and labeller.


Noise level reduced considerably




To begin with the new "synchron" conveyor control from the HEUFT SYSTEMTECHNIK company in Burgbrohl, Germany, was installed between the washing machine and the filler. This ensures a pressureless and careful bottle transport at a high rate of efficiency and is achieved by a continued fine adjustment of the conveyor speeds. The real-time adjustment without cycle times ensures an obvious increase in efficiency along the complete line. Pressureless transport is an effective means of preventing the formation of scuffing on bottles and ensures a considerable reduction in noise.


High detection rate




New belts and the HEUFT DELTA-FW rejection system were installed before the inspector. Bottles which are too tall, too wide or completely wrong are rejected in the same way as those which are chipped or cracked. The correct, clean bottles pass through into the proven LINEAR² empty bottle inspector. An infeed check as well as a base, finish and sidewall inspection is carried out here. A CCD camera, an infrared system for oil, polarized light as well as a high frequency field for measuring conductance, which identifies residual liquid and especially lye is used to carry this out. Faulty bottles are rejected by the DELTA-K system, a multi-segment rejector with single point guidance (plastic fingers which fold away quickly) for the empty bottle area. This equipment has an hourly output of up to 72,000 bottles and the fault detection and rejection rate is 99.99%.


Fill level detection with foam compensation




The SPECTRUM VX fill level detection with O2 check was installed after the KHS filler. A check is carried out for overfilling and underfilling using high-frequency technology and a camera checks that the closure is correctly positioned. According to the manufacturer this system is the only one of its kind in the world with foam compensation. The foam in the bottle after filling is converted in relation to the quantity of beer in the bottle. The amount of residual air under the crown cork is also measured. A special sonic system checks whether this is an undesirable air bubble or creamy foam.


Fast changeovers, low glue consumption




The control cabinet and electronics of the TORNADO labeller which follows are arranged compactly on the machine in order to save space.  Body, collar and neck ring labels as well as foil can be applied at a speed of up to 54,000 bottles/hr. Even though change parts have to be replaced in the case of the TORNADO in accordance with the container changeover selected on the display, the changeover only takes a few minutes due to the special technology. The front and back labelling stations are similar in construction which simplifies the keeping of spare parts considerably. When carrying out a fitting the TORNADO can be moved forwards and backwards in very small steps (jog operation) which reduces the set-up time considerably. The glue consumption of this equipment during the acceptance inspection was significantly lower than the guaranteed values.


A renewed check during labelling




A very accurate fill level detection based on X-ray technology (because of metal foil and foam) with photocells for checking the presence of labels has been incorporated directly into the labeller. When a fault is identified the bottle is pushed out by the flip high-speed rejector. It has been designed for the smooth transversal acceleration of filled containers. The equipment is brought to a halt if serial faults occur and the system evaluates the faulty bottles. Faulty bottles are graded higher than good ones, repeated faults are therefore identified even if good bottles are amongst them.


Linking the units


All the systems are networked to each other via the PILOT system in an industrial Ethernet. In this way remote diagnosis as well as remote service or maintenance is possible on-line without a technician having to be on-site. The system operates with the Linux operating system, the complete operating surface has been uncoupled from the inspection level so that there is no obstruction whatsoever to an inspection by the actual operation or vice versa.


The complete equipment has also been approved by the Berufsgenossenschaft (German professional/trade association having liability for industrial safety and insurance) who certified it to be of a very high standard as regards detection accuracy and noise development.