Mammoth bottle washer

We’ve just happened upon an issue of the 2/15 magazine. And there we found loads of interesting articles: like a report on Molson Coors. And because we immediately started browsing, we want to share this rediscovery with others. Here, however, there’s space for only a brief summary; there’s more about the subject on the magazine article.

In Canada, with a market share of 42 per cent, Molson Coors is the second-largest brewing company, just behind Labatt/InBev. Molson Coors Canada operates a total of five breweries in Canada, the largest of which is the facility in Toronto, with a capacity of five million hectolitres annually. The following filling kit is installed at the Toronto facility: one kegging line, two canning lines, and the new aluminium bottle line, which was supplied by Krones as a turnkey job in 2012. It serves to fill aluminium bottles, which were premiered by Molson Coors Canada on the Canadian beer market in 2012. Rated at 300 bottles per minute, it fills 473-millilitre aluminium bottles, whose particular advantages for consumers are their reclosability and their easy-to-drink-from 38-millimetre wide-neck mouth. The line boasting the highest speed is the “T5” twin returnable-glass line, in which the new Lavatec D5 bottle washer was integrated.


The sheer dimensions of the new bottle washer are more than impressive: it’s 24.6 metres long, 5.2 metres high and with its additional components 11.5 metres wide. It weighs 266 tons when empty, and more than twice as much, 562 tons, when full. The Lavatec was delivered in eleven large and 24 smaller components, plus 25 seaworthy containers with equipment and ingressed on site. Since a whole series of supporting columns in the direct vicinity made installation a far-from-easy task, Krones simulated the installation job beforehand in a 3D CAD system. This enabled a logically sequenced insertion of the individual segments to be specified. For this purpose, one of the hall’s side walls was opened up, and some parts were also ingressed through the roof.
One special feature was the necessity of installing the machine over two different floors.

Shortly after the bottles have been accepted by the machine’s head section on the raised level, they are drained off into a continuously rinsed residual liquid channel, to remove the beverage residues. This is followed by a combined high-pressure pre-jetting and pre-warming function and a pre-soak section, in which labels, dirt and glass fragments are removed. A properly targeted subcaustic surge function provided in the lower end-turning sections of the caustic soak bath and using an axial screw pump, ensures that through the massive volume flow any dirt and detached labels are flushed out of the bottle pockets and guided onto the removal belt. The head section likewise houses the caustic recuperator. After a few metres, the bottles then enter the washer’s main section, which is located on the lower ground-floor level. Here, four main caustic baths have been integrated one after the other, designed as immersion baths with vertical loop routing. Internal jetting is provided for the bottles after each main caustic bath. For the event of a machine standstill, a downtime jetting system has been installed for wetting the bottles in the main caustic section, so as to prevent the caustic drying onto their surface. After the bottles leave the final main caustic bath, the bottle pockets are once again showered from outside.

The Lavatec D5 can be regulated in the range from 45,000 to 133,000 containers per hour. A total of 890 bottle carriers, each holding 74 bottles in steel pockets with plastic mouth inserts, totalling around 50,000 bottles, travel through the machine with a transit time of just under 23 minutes for each container. Plate heat exchangers serve to heat up the bottle washer with saturated steam. Thanks to a pretty complex heating system featuring several heat recuperation functions, the heat consumption per bottle is around 19 kilojoules. The water consumption is less than 20 cubic metres per hour, which is equivalent to 0.15 litres of water needed per bottle. To flush out and disinfect the discharge-head, water post-treatment and post-caustic sections, an automatic CIP system has been integrated. The machine has also been prepared for caustic sedimentation and caustic filtration. Connection flanges have been provided for this purpose in the sidewall for the return from the sedimentation zone. The Lavatec D5 handles a single type of bottle, a brown 341-millilitre returnable bottle dubbed “AT2”.

Downstream of the Lavatec D5, the washed bottles are divided into two flows, leading to two identically structured 60,000-bph lines, installed by Krones as a turnkey job in 2006. At that time, an existing, relatively old bottle washer was integrated in the twin line. “The bottle washer we had back then was quite literally the filling operation’s “bottleneck”, letting line efficiency drop to 55 per cent,” says George Mellish, Business Unit Manager of the brewery in Toronto. “There were too many stops, up to 85 of them in an eight-hour shift. The label detachment function is better now, which in its turn has a beneficial effect on empty-bottle inspection. This has enabled us to reduce the label-related rejection rate at the two empty-bottle inspectors from 0.6 to zero per cent. With the bottle washer from Krones, we now have only 17 stops per shift, a very good key statistic for returnable bottles. We used to have too much maintenance to do, too many repairs. And we had to clean the machine much too often, so as to maintain the relevant microbiological standard. Line efficiency, operating costs and safety questions were the three paramount reasons for deciding to replace the bottle washer. I’m quite happy with it, the staff love it because it’s high-tech kit and easy to operate,” admits George Mellish.

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