Best done automatically: Format change-overs in aseptic lines

Exactly the right taste experience for any lifestyle or occasion in the right packaging: A colourful cornucopia of different products enables beverage companies to cater for the individual preferences of various target groups. But manufacturing this diverse range of products often requires a genuine tour de force because every format change-over in the line means more work, more costs. Those who want to render these routines faster and easier are well advised to opt for an automated solution.

A corresponding automation package is now available for the Contipure AseptBloc DA from Krones as an optional extra. It enables its user to change over the bottle format at the touch of a button in less than ten minutes. When the times for removing the materials needed before the change-over and feeding in the new materials after are added to this, the short break before the AseptBloc can resume production amounts to just twenty minutes.

27 seconds per mould

The basic precondition for this has already been included in the AseptBloc’s standard design. The magic formula here is “accurate-to-the-very-last-bottle production capability”, which means that every Contipure AseptBloc DA calculates from the product quantity remaining the exact number of PET containers and closures still to be sterilised. As soon as the system has sent a corresponding signal to the preform and closure feed units, no more material will be supplied – all that with impressive precision: the last drop of product is filled into the last bottle, which is sealed with the last closure.

This is then followed by an automatic format change-over routine which runs just as smoothly. When the appropriate button is pushed, the MouldXpress Robot sets to work and successively replaces all moulds. It needs 27 seconds per station, entirely ruling out the possibility of any delays, operator errors and hygiene risks that might be caused by manual interventions. All the production team has to do in the meantime is replace the preforms and closures. Otherwise, their heads and hands are free to do something else.

More production time, free rein in planning

Up to two hours of additional production time can thus be gained with every format change-over. Moreover, entirely new options are opened up for planning the line’s orders. Whereas it used to be common practice to fill the same bottle format with a succession of different beverages, it is now easily possible to do it the other way round – filling the same product successively into all the different containers in the range. The advantages: Firstly, it eliminates the cleaning routines and product losses that product change-overs generally entail. And secondly, it gives line users greater scope for planning their production sequences, enabling them to match production even more flexibly to ongoing demand.

The system is suitable for ratings of up to 36,000 containers per hour. Those who do not want to implement the automation solution straight away can still keep this option open for the future: All new systems delivered can be prepared for a subsequent retrofit. And since the line does not end at the closer, Krones likewise offers appropriate automation solutions for any adjustment and change-over work on the downstream kit, like the Variopac Pro packers, the Checkmat inspection system and the MultiCo and SynCo conveyors.