Vincor’s Quebec facility installed Power Transmission Solutions’
System Plast conveyor chain and Nolu-S wear track.
Sustainability, optimal efficiency, higher throughput. Ask any number of beverage production operations what some of their top plant priorities are and those three goals are very likely to be common among all of their short lists. What might not be so common is how they’re achieving those objectives.
One area that presents a largely untapped opportunity is the conveyor system. Just ask Vincor International. The company’s Quebec wine bottling operation recently installed a system that eliminated the need for soap-and-water lubrication. The company selected the System Plast NG (as in “New Generation”) conveyor chain and Nolu-S wear track from Power Transmission Solutions, a unit of Emerson Industrial Automation.
“There’s more awareness among beverage suppliers and manufacturers—whether it be wine, beer or even the soft drink industry—where they’d like to reduce their water usage and energy usage going forward,” says Jeff Himes, senior product manager-System Plast at Power Transmission Solutions.
Prior to installing the System Plast solution, Vincor was using an LF acetal conveyor chain. “Part of what [Vincor] had was a maintenance issue with the wear of their existing chain,” explains Jeff Himes, senior product manager-System Plast at Power Transmission Solutions. “They also had excessive water and soap usage—they were having to lubricate the chain with soap and water, which was something they wanted to reduce.”
The soap and water use also was increasing the number of rejects on the line. “It would get on the bottles as they go through the labeling,” says Himes.
The System Plast NG chain, Power Transmission Solutions says, is made of high-performance PBT thermoplastic with a low coefficient of friction—01.13, which the company says is a fraction of traditional plastic belt, steel and low-friction acetal components—delivering medium strength, optimum wear resistance, reduced plate wear and reduced pitch elongation.
Additionally, it reduces the conveyor’s energy requirements by up to 30 percent, Power Transmission Solutions adds.
Meanwhile, the FDA-approved Nolu-S wear strips and guides enable reduced lubrication, high-speed conveyor operation.
When NG chains and Nolu-S wear strips are combined, the lower friction reduces belt fatigue, resulting in what the company says is dramatically longer belt life.
The Vincor conversion was on a section that was about 200 feet long and accounted for about 80,000 to 90,000 bottles per shift.
“They were able to eliminate their soap and water usage on that line and they were also able to increase some of the production throughput on that line as well,” says Himes.
That production increase translated to between $25,000 and $26,000 added to Vincor’s bottom line per year. There was also about a 20 percent savings in motor-related expenses.
“We are enjoying intangible improvements as well,” says Vincor plant maintenance manager Jorge Larraguilbel, “such as lower noise level in the plant, reduced slip hazard and improved cleanliness. The improvements have been noticeable to everyone involved with this plant, from top management to the people working on the line. We call the new chain the green carpet.”