Category: Plant / Production

In Pursuit of Accuracy & Efficiency

The few weeks between late October and mid-November might have been the busiest time for anyone in the global beverage market involved in production, processing and packing, with Pack Expo International running Oct. 28-31 in Chicago and Brau Beviale in Nuremberg Germany, Nov. 13-15. Despite being separated by 4,000-odd miles, a major ocean and sundry language barriers, there was one common theme that never gets lost in translation on any continent: efficiency. NürnbergMesse, which hosts Brau, reports that the show attracted 32,810 visitors—38 percent from outside Germany—an increase of more than 1,000 over 2011. Meanwhile, Pack Expo producer PMMI reports a 3 percent bump over the last Chicago event in 2010 (The slightly smaller off-year event was in Las Vegas in 2011). PMMI notes that about 45,300 attendees walked the floor at Chicago’s McCormick Place to meet with the 1,965 exhibiting companies. Here’s a taste of some of the packing, processing and production offerings at both shows. 

Quality Control

Riverhead, New York-based AutoMate Technologies and sister company Kaps-All spotlighted a range of solutions at Pack Expo, including AutoMate’s AM-QC Automatic Quality Control Center (pictured, left) at Pack Expo. Innovations with the AM-QC include a selection of more than 14 diagnostic parameters that can be tested, including missing caps, missing/skewed labels, missing neck bands, bar code verification, color correctness and many more. A color touch screen with USB/ethernet connections allows for easy set-up, programing and data retrieval, all in a compact 24-inch footprint. Its reject system allows defects to be automatically removed from the line. The company adds that quick changeovers are accomplished by simple knob adjustments with calibrated scales.

“At the end of the day, if you ran 50,000 bottles, it’s going to give you a diagnostic report and say of that 50,000 bottles 100 had a crooked cap; 5,000 had a crooked label,” explains Kaps-All’s Dan Hoctor. “So now you know to go and look at your labeler and see what’s wrong. It’s going to lead you to the right place and solve the problem.” 

Meanwhile, at Brau, Heuft showcased its range of in-line product and package quality assurance systems, including the InLine IXS x-ray empty bottle inspector (pictured, left), which, the company says ensures increased precision and simplicity when inspecting bottles. The system is optimized for detecting minute glass splinters, shell-shaped fractures and base chipping (pictured, above). It also detects defects hidden by the base edge or behind the base dome. The company notes that glass-in-glass detection is possible even when a transparent foreign object is surrounded by residual liquid. The InLine IXS, the company adds, produces clear x-ray images with low radiation exposure.  

Filling Tech

The influence of the global craft brewing movement is no more apparent than in the solutions equipment manufacturers specifically tailor for the small to mid-size brewery. KHS has been one of the major vendors to make a splash in this area with fillers scaled for craft-size producers. For example, the company’s Innofill Glass Micro (pictured, above) incorporates many of the components from KHS fillers designed for large operations—such as filling valves, capping and lifting elements and drive and control systems—and includes many of the technological advantages common in high-performance lines like high fill level accuracy, low oxygen pickup in the product and low consumption of CO2. The system has an output of 6,000 to 25,000 bottles per hour—ideal for small to mid-size operations—in package sizes that range from 0.1 to 3 liters. The filler can be monoblocked with either one or two capping systems, as needed. And it’s not just for the brewing industry, as it’s designed to fill soft drinks and a range of other non-alcohol products as well. 

Case Packing

Delkor (St. Paul, Minn.) unveiled its LIF-650 case packer with integrated closer at Pack Expo, showcasing the system’s flexibility to load multiple case pack patterns in a single, compact and efficient packaging line. The stainless steal machine has an auto-clear infeed system that ensures continuous machine running even when defective products are present. It features a dual-axis, high-speed servo-laner designed to prevent product pile up. Its stabilizing device prevents products from tipping over and causing incomplete loads. Once products are loaded into their cases, they move to the integrated closer, which can close up to 60 packages per minute. 

Shrink Wrappers

Standard-Knapp (Portland, Conn.) demonstrated its 598 Tritium shrink wrapper for Pack Expo attendees. The system is a continuous motion multi-packer with single, double and triple-lane configurations. It’s designed to swiftly arrange products into compact pack patterns and wrap the configurations in film. It features both a Robo-Wand wrapping section and precise servo-driven film cutting systems. Its modular design, the company says, allows for assembly precision with no adjustments. 

Liquid Measurement Systems

At Brau Beviale, Bellingham & Stanley demonstrated a new refractometer with fruit juice applications, designed for maximum accuracy when measuring sugar concentration (pictured, left).

“One of the things we’ve recognized is phenomenon measuring orange juice during the dilution process,” explains Kevin Chapman, marketing and customer care manager at Bellingham & Stanley. “What we’ve done is looked at the variables that are causing erratic readings and we’ve eliminated those with some very special techniques for pre-conditioning the sample and allowing the operator to follow an exact procedure to get the highest specification.”

The system includes a software package that guides the user through the entire process, from taking the reading all the way through flushing out the instrument and ensuring it’s clean for the next user. “In fact, the user can’t actually take a reading and get a result unitl they’ve gone through the whole process to ensure that the instrument is fully clean by the time it gets ready for the next reading,” Chapman points out.

Additionally, Chapman contends that performance relative to dilution rate measurement is 10 times that of normal refractometers. This all results in cost savings for the operation, he notes. “The commodity prices on orange juice have gone through the roof over the last five years,” he says. “They’re increasing constantly—as resources become less available, prices go up. And of course every time you put too much orange juice concentrate into a beverage you’re giving something away that you’re not getting paid for. By reducing the concentration of the refractometer, you’re actually providing more yield from the concentrate.” 

Filtration & Stability Systems

At Brau BASF’s Human Nutrition business unit showcased a range of solutions for beer filtration and stabilization. Its Crosspure offering is a synthetic polymer designed to meet consumer demand—and therefore the demand of its brewery customers—for beers of optimal flavor, clarity and stability. Crosspure was designed as an alternative to the conventional filter aid kieselguhr (diatomaceous earth). The company says life cycle costs are 20 percent lower than with kieselguhr and there are significant reductions in energy consumption and emissions. Crosspure can be used in existing filtration lines with minor adaptations, the company says.  

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