Bulmers of Clonmel, the leading Irish Cider manufacturer has gone from strength to strength in the last 5 years and with its flagship product "Magners" is the No. 1 packaged cider in Great Britain. Bulmers visited Heuft Germany in March 2006 specifically to look at its line control package - the HEUFT synchron. The philosophy behind this system is to increase line efficiency by optimising production flow into and out of critical areas such as the EBI, filler, labeller, etc.
The advantage of the HEUFT synchron is that it can be implemented with new conveyors (also available from Heuft) or existing conveyors - as was the case at Bulmers. Of great interest was the implementation time. At Bulmers, for example, the installation of the HEUFT synchron (September 2006) took only 5 days - including pre-commissioning! This means that an installation can be achieved during a typical shutdown period, with commissioning possible on production start-up.
At Clonmel, Heuft were given the task of controlling the production flow from the bulk glass depalletiser and two washers through a zero pressure combiner, the HEUFT LINEAR EBI into the filler. This area had been plagued by fallen bottles, and subsequent crashes that led to the filler often being starved. On re-start of production Bulmers noted immediately a reduction of fallen bottles reaching the EBI, which previously had caused stoppages at the filler.
This area of the line benefited from improved bottle handling, reduced noise and most importantly continuous running of the filler. Since the installation Bulmers have recorded a 6% increase in line efficiency, as well as other unexpected savings on wear and tear as the linear speed of the conveyors has now been reduced through the EBI into the filler. Additionally, there has been an improvement in the HACCP element of handling broken glass and glass contamination risks have been significantly reduced.
So what does 6% mean in terms of extra production?
An increase in line efficiency of 6% on any 36,000 b.p.h. line, is an additional 2,160 bottles going through the filler every hour.
If we assume a filling line runs 3 shifts, 5 days per week:
(24 hours x 2,160 bottles) x 5 days = an additional 259,200 bottles or an additional 10,800 cases (24 bottles in a case).
Of course, the above is simplistic - a producer may not have a market for the additional production achieved. However, even in this case, it means that his production targets can be met in fewer shifts, possibly with less people. This reduction in costs means however we look at the maths, the return on investment for the HEUFT synchron can be measured in weeks or months - not years!