Flexible and efficient: automated line changeovers for the InnoPET TriBlock from KHS
Up to 70% time saved compared to manual changeovers / Molds changed by robots on the stretch blow molding module / Automated adaptation to the label gluing height and bottle diameter
The example of KHS’ InnoPET TriBlock stretch blow molder/labeler/filler block illustrates how automated format changeovers can be successfully implemented. And it shows that beverage producers can combine maximum flexibility with a high level of efficiency.
PET lines today are very rarely configured exclusively from individual machines. Instead, beverage producers want a turnkey system with a small footprint, shorter conveying segments and a reduced maintenance effort and – first and foremost – short changeover times. As part of the holistic, automated line changeovers on its PET lines the InnoPET stretch blow molder, labeler and filler TriBlock satisfies these high demands. Thanks to the new KHS InnoPET iflex automation concept beverage bottlers can now save up to 70% of the time needed for manual changeovers. To this end, various functions were developed for the different segments on the InnoPET TriBlock that considerably increase the level of automation and make manual intervention largely superfluous with a few clicks on the HMI.
Format changeovers by robot
PET bottles are produced in the stretch blow molding module. When formats are scheduled for a changeover, the iflex first triggers the automatic loading of recipes for the heating profile, blow pressure, preform conveying and inspection technology.
The most important new feature on this machine is the mold changeover when the new batch requires a different bottle size or shape. Here, the switch is made with the help of a robot that changes the two side mold shells and base mold fully automatically and very quickly during ongoing production. It removes the previous molds from the stations, places them in the mold set magazine, takes out the new molds and slots them back into the stations without any need for action from the operator. The robot needs just 41 seconds per station for this short, fully reproducible procedure. The time for manual intervention is thus reduced from a previous 95 to just eight minutes. This is further facilitated by automatic bottle base detection adjustment at the blow wheel transfer star with the help of several sensors. All the operator has to do by hand is to start the format changeover and later start the new production run.
Less manual intervention
The time and effort needed for manual work by the operator is also reduced in the labeling module. This is chiefly thanks to automatic adaptation of the label gluing height and bottle diameter. The operator still carries out the toolless changeover of the vacuum drum, brushes and bottle guide parts, however. Nevertheless, two labeling stations can now be converted within 20 minutes.
At the press of a button
In the filler module conversion is fully automatic. Firstly, this avoids handling errors by the operator, and secondly, it prevents the risk of bacterial or microbiological contamination by people entering the hygiene area that would then need foam cleaning. This would delay the changeover by around 30 minutes.
The key components relevant to automatic changeovers are the guides from the filler infeed to the capper discharge that need to be set to the bottle diameter and height. Conical base guides or bottle pockets are used here, for example, where the containers are fixed by simple height adjustment as in a funnel. The discharge conveyor is vertically adjusted by a servomotor instead of being manually cranked; the same goes for the horizontal adjustment of the railings. What’s more, the bottle caps are also changed over automatically, such as when a new beverage features a different cap color from the previous one.
Up to 70% quicker
We can see just how important the new iflex options are on the KHS InnoPET TriBlock in particular when it comes to highly flexible beverage filling if we take a look at the total time saving: depending on the specific changeover routine on site, this amounts to approximately 95 minutes. The remaining manual tasks only take eight minutes on the stretch blow molding module and 20 minutes on the labeling module. On the filling module format changeovers have been fully automated and are completed without intervention in a matter of seconds. All told, changeovers are now implemented in less than a third of the time previously required, allowing beverage producers to look forward to a high degree of flexibility and efficiency.
Innoline Flex Control: everything under control
The Innoline Flex Control line management system is essential if the iflex is to function properly and its potential be fully exploited. It takes over the tasks of line and order management from the beverage producer’s ERP system and orchestrates the automatic changeover of the machines. The basic idea is to help the operator to always do exactly the right thing.
By integrating the Innoline Flex Control web GUI into the HMI, data is displayed on the machine operator panel. The operator sees which processing program must be selected when and which materials are needed where to produce the respective current version of the order sequence that has been tactically planned by the system. With the automated iflex variant, this is triggered by the simple press of a button. On the guided iflex version the system clearly prompts the operator through the various steps and provides straightforward instructions for all action that needs to be taken manually.
New, aesthetic Conveying System for the future
The young Swiss startup Avancon SA (www.avancon.com) has set itself the goal to revolutionize the unit handling systems in distribution and logistics centers. They offer now a new modern and very innovative conveying system. This will be distributed worldwide by manufacturers of conveyor systems and logistic system integrators. The system has been developed by Dieter Specht, the founder of the Interroll Group.The car industry, the computer industryand even the machine industry presentevery few years new and moderndesigned models. Why? To be able toattack new markets and new customers.However, it is hard to see somethingnew in the conveyor industry.
Most ofthe unit conveyor systems weredeveloped 15, 20 or even 50 years agoand are still sold today in a construction,which remembers on the patents of theBritish toy manufacturer Frank Hornby,who has already registered his patent ofa “Meccano” kit in 1901.Now, the two young founders of the start-up Avancon SA are ready to revolutionize the conveyor industry with thisnew and streamlined concept. It’s full of innovative and functionalideas and has been patented worldwide.
Originally, Dieter Specht had developed this systemfor Interroll. But it didn’t fit to their philosophy. So hefound two enthusiastic entrepreneurs, Denis Ratz,he has a bachelor of science in business informaticsand Dr. Daniele Gambetta, who has a PhD inelectric machines. They established inTicino/Switzerland a new start-up under the name Avancon SA (from Avant-garde and Conveyor).
The CEO, Denis Ratz showed the new conveyor system to some large and important manufacturers of conveyor- and logistics-systems and got a very positive response.
“Of course, we wanted to see the reactions to our completely new and very modern designed conveyor concept,” says Denis Ratz. “Most were positively impressed about the outstanding design. I could answer all their questions about the functions and requirements of the market. After these meetings with CEOs and technical managers of big and well-known companies I was highly motivated. Now we are ready. Everything is finished and tested. We can deliver. Several potential customers will visit our large test facility here in Ticino. We believe that the functions and the many advantages of this innovative system will convince them.”
Avancon SA invested heavily into development, in machines, in molds, patents and in the production. With a clever marketing concept enables an exclusive group of Conveyor Manufacturers and System Integrators worldwide to promote the system under their own label/brand and house color to the final market, the operators of logistics and distribution center.
Denis Ratz explains: “We want to offer something avant-garde to the manufacturers of conveyors and intralogistics systems. But we don’t want to interfere with the market of our customers and we will not offer to distribution- and logistics-systems directly to operating companies. Even though this modern system will catch the eye of every manager of this industry.”
The partner and head of technique, Dr. Daniele Gambetta, is an experienced specialist for electronic control and DC-motors. He has patents of completely new DC-motors, which will also be integrated in the future in the Avancon Conveyor System.
“Today – in the digital age of ‘industry-4’ – the electronic connectivity is of enormous importance. I was very fascinated by the ideas of Dieter Specht, so I have joined this young start-up,” says Dr. Daniele Gambetta. “I have never seen such a convincing new concept in the conveyor industry. Everything is completely different, new, safer and much better. We believe that about 80 % of all goods up to 50 kg weight, which have to be transported millions of times worldwide every day, can be handled with this new system.”
Meanwhile, the design has been awarded by the internationally well known “Red-Dot” price in Germany and also by the very coveted throughout Asia, “Good-Design” award in Japan.
The two partners have a lot of courage to break into such an established market today. But who would not want to offer their customers something very aesthetic, even revolutionizing, which differs to all previous designs?
Why aesthetic? Well, ask yourself: would you buy today a machine, which is not modern covered? Now you can offer your customers something extraordinary that combines innovation with emotions.
Denis Ratz says: “We are very positive about the future. We have just moved into a newly built modern factory, which corresponds to our DNA. Here we have a daily capacity production of up to 400 meters conveyor tracks of our new ZPC- system. Anyone who builds conveyor systems by himself can obtain all individual elements from us and so use the patents free of charge. Several customers want to exhibit the new system at one of their upcoming trade fairs.
‘ZPC’ system means “Zone Powered Conveyor” system, in which each zone is controlled and driven separately. The system is extremely flexible and adaptable. It is capable of slow or fast transporting in any desired line and, where necessary, can accumulate without pressure. The system can also communicate with higher IT or Bus system very easily and at significantly reduced installation cost.
Of course it transports goods in all directions, with all the functions an engineer wants for logistics systems.
Last but not least it seems to be much cheaper than it looks.
Automated sortation system installed specifically to deal with “small traffic”
The UKs largest dedicated parcel carrier officially opened its new purpose built, 15,000 square metre, parcel distribution hub in Warrington back in 2014. Designed to support the continuation of growth of the company the new hub has a capacity of around 550,000 parcels a day – almost three times that of the previous site in Warrington.
The facility’s purpose was to help with the developing requirement for next day deliveries, playing a key role in plans for international expansion and to provide a platform for further innovation, as the company looks to introduce a host of new products to the market.
L.A.C Conveyor Systems Ltd is now entering its 4th year, working closely with the multinational delivery company, in the development and implementation of innovative, flexible technologies to suit the ever-evolving challenge of handling parcels from a wide range of shapes and sizes whilst achieving faster processing times.
L.A.C Conveyor Systems innovative
The latest challenge was to introduce a sortation solution specifically designed to accommodate small sized parcels. Prior to the new solution the sortation of “small traffic” was a combined sortation process, with larger parcels. This combined automated parcel sortation approach meant that smaller parcels were harder to control and ultimately ended up being manually sorted. This system required a lot of human intervention to gain full control, proving not the most efficient approach, as the accuracy of the sort could not be guaranteed. Separating smalls from larger parcels meant higher throughputs could be achieved utilising a more streamlined solution with a 100% accuracy of sort.
L.A.C Conveyor Systems innovative “Automation Toolbox” meant a combination of technologies could be combined to satisfy the required solution and could be delivered and implemented within a small footprint and with minimal disruption to current operations.
The solution utilised L.A.C designed induct/feed conveyors, handling bulk parcels on infeed for initial parcel separation, which were then separated further utilising a flighted belt conveyor, leading on to a horizontal conveyor with 5 moveable ploughs and 1 fixed. The parcels were then broken down further spread across 6 chutes, presenting parcels to an operator platform. Operator interaction at this stage of the process provided a means of orientating parcels and placing them onto a Equinox split tray sorter with barcode labels accessible for automated scanning and verification.
The Equinox split tray sorter is a tray-based “bomb-bay” sorter developed specifically to handle flat goods such as packets, books, garments, parcels, and accessories, making it the ideal choice for L.A.C to integrate as part of a turnkey solution. The system offers the capacity to sort 10,000 trays per hour exceeding the requirements, but offering scope for future growth. It has a characteristic oval-shaped conveyor on which the trays circulate. This “open oval” design allows operators and further automation to integrate with ease.
An overhead scanning system ensured parcel identification and location could be achieved at high speed. L.A.C’s modular software design structure offered a seamless link with the host IT system, completing the final piece of the puzzle.
This unique automation approach has ensured a fast and flexible response to future e-commerce demands and has enabled an increased ability to handle parcels of such a shape and size in such a controlled manner. L.A.C’s diverse inhouse skill set has offered a solution that is cost effective providing faster processing of incoming “small” parcels.
Modernising the supply chain network
System to handle small sized parcels only
Cost effective and efficient flow of goods to consumers
Selecting & implementing the best technology
Allow for more next-day delivery
Increased order accuracy
Overall reduction in costs
Integrate with latest supply chain technology
Key services & Technologies
Feed conveyor – shaft mounted motor, tapered hopper to allow product to fall onto flyted belt conveyor.
Modular belt conveyor with hopper
Discharge conveyor with high side for product control
5 off moving ploughs and 1 fixed. Underslung braked motor with pivot arm connected to plough
6 off discharge chutes
6 off operator stations
Each discharge station offering PTL button light module
Double tray wide oval sorter
Sorter gross capacity (10,000 trays per hour)
Tray type 7 DT Double Tray – (Bombay also known as split tray)
Sorter direction – Clockwise
Barcode label control linking carton to station
Item detection sensing
Omni Camera Scanner – Overhead system for barcode label capture
L.A.C IT hardware and Software integration
Wireless network connection
VPN Remote Access
100% Accuracy of sort.
Increased supply chain efficiencies
Sortation direct into shipping cartons
Easy to use, simple efficient design and low maintenance decrease cost and increase uptime.
Design allows for the highest accuracy as well as a very small footprint without losing throughput.
Overhead Conveyor Automates Electroplating System
PACLINE Overhead Conveyors has developed a pre-engineered system for handling the 10 to 12 foot long copper bars used in Electro-Plating shops. This sophisticated design has eliminated the necessity of using hand operated trolleys for the transfer of workloads to and from the hoist lines of plating tanks.
The PAC-LINE™ overhead conveyor, using our standard No. 175 Bar Carrier Trolley, can transport loads in excess of 400 lbs. Our special design allows the 10 to 12 foot long work bar to manoeuver the standard radius curves of the overhead conveyor with ease. Loaded racks can be easily transferred from the overhead conveyor to the hoist for dipping as required.
This system is designed to allow the transfer of the loaded work bar directly from the hoist to the overhead conveyor. This loading signals the conveyor to run until the empty No. 175 trolley is in position to receive the next loaded work bar from the plating line.
The same system applies to the opposite end of the plating tanks. Loaded work bars are automatically delivered to the front of the line of plating tanks. The hoist can quickly pick up the loaded bar carrier, beginning the plating process.
The entire conveyor system is synchronized to allow both the empty bar carrier and the loaded carrier to stop automatically at opposite ends of the elecroplating line, so that the loading and unloading of the hoist can be completed simultaneously between the conveyor’s cycles.
This proven Electro-Plating system can substantially increase your production and at the same time eliminate unnecessary labor.
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