Schubert Packaging Systems
Packaging beer bottles of any size
Offline packaging center from IPS and Schubert
Breweries achieve maximum efficiency with their in-line lines when engaged in production with standard crates and pallets. Any deviation from this throws a proverbial money wrench in the works, making many pack shapes simply impossible. The Carlsberg brewery group is now striking out in a new direction. In the spring of 2013, it commissioned an offline packaging center which can package up to 14,400 bottles an hour very flexibly.
A variety of brands from the brewery group are brewed and packaged at its Hamburg location. Each one has its own bottle and pack type. Each also has appropriate sizes which are not part of the in-line line standard. This is why the brewery primarily produced most special sizes by hand in the past.
Carlsberg wanted to change this aspect of their packaging department. It was looking for a line concept which could accept new sizes at any time. This concerned bottles, clusters, crates, trays, pallets and the respective packing patterns.
IPS International Packaging Systems and Gerhard Schubert GmbH (now Schubert Packaging Systems) presented the company with their concept for the offline packaging center. This concept involves a highly flexible Multipack line which unpacks filled bottles from fed Euro pallets and then packages and palletizes them as desired. The in-line line is independent of this and can be operated in standard mode. Carlsberg was convinced by the possibilities of this line concept.
As a general contractor, IPS designed, planned and implemented the entire line. The core of the solution is the TLM technology of the digital robot-based packaging line from Schubert. It combines a simple mechanical system with intelligent software and thus offers a high degree of flexibility. Eight sub-machines are all Schubert needs to integrate all functions within a TLM line. Another design advantage: The infeed and discharge of all crates and trays occurs on the same side.
The palletizers/depalletizers come from PCA Roboter- und Verpackungstechnik GmbH (Leutershausen, Germany). The entire line also integrates a crate washing and turning line.
The lines offer great size variety. At present, it produces 6-packs with the classic carton sleeve or top-clip and can thus load various different crates (11-count, 20-count, 27-count and 30-count), a 24-count pin-partition crate and two sizes of Logipack trays (36-count and 40-count). The pallet sizes include Euro, Düsseldorfer (DD), 1/4 Chep and brewery pallet. There are also programs for unpacking full and empty bottles into different crates.
From the Transmodule to the TLM robots to the palletizer line robots, it’s easy to switch the line to new sizes through tool changes and an appropriate program change in the software. The line is thus capable of being expanded for new sizes at any time. The option of filling mixed packages has already been planned.
“A new era of flexible Multipack production has begun at Carlsberg Germany, ” remarked brewery manager Matthias Oswald on commissioning the line. Automation not only means a considerable increase in productivity, but also gives those responsible more freedoms in designing and implementing orders. “The internal feedback is more than positive,” reported Rüdiger Weck (Project Engineering/Training). “Originally, the plan for this week was 24,500 crates. This increased to more than 27,000, and we still finished on time at 2 p.m. We were even able to repack empty bottles beforehand, which was never possible before due to time constraints.”
IPS and Schubert see the idea of the offline packaging center as having good market potential, as the individualization of consumer habits is increasing. The task of producing ever-changing packages in small quantities for customers both efficiently and nearly “just in time” is becoming just as important. A concept for breweries with an output level of 5,000 to 8,000 bottles per hour has already been devised.
Arriving from the depalletizer, the full plastic crates arrive in the TLM line on their conveyor belt. Another feed section feeds empty crates or Logipack trays of the current size. For this purpose, there is a second palletizing/depalletizing line. The 11-count and 30-count plastic crates run through a crate washing line before they are transferred to the Schubert line.
A two-axis TLM-F2 robot removes the bottles from the full crates and places them into the awaiting Transmodules. Emptied plastic crates exit the TLM line on its conveyor belt and are palletized again.
The Transmodules bring the bottles to the filling area. In all, the TLM line contains one Transmodule section for the bottles, one for the pack and another section which serves as a buffer system. Transmodules are single-axis robots which move on a section of rail and are freely programmable. Exchangeable size plates are placed on the transport carriage. In this case, the plates match the bottles, carton blanks, crates and trays. A turning unit is located at each end of the section. Unloaded modules travel back to the other end on a lower track.
The packaging process is largely similar for the 20+ different sizes. A TLM-F3 removes the blanks of the 6-pack carton sleeves from the magazine. The TLM-F2 then accepts the flat-lying carton and erects it in the Transmodule. With the “man’s handbag” format, the pre-glued carton carriers are removed from the magazine, pulled open and placed on the size plate of the Transmodule next to the bottle cassettes. The EAN code is queried for all blanks.
A TLM-F2 removes bottle formations from the Transmodule section of the products or buffer and fills the cluster/bottle cassettes. An ink-jet printer marks the Multipacks with the expiration date. A two-axis robot closes the carton or inserts the carton carrier of the man’s handbag onto the bottlenecks.
Two TLM-F4 “Big Arms” for heavy weights place the finished clusters into the crates or the Logipack trays of the current size. For this purpose, a TLM-F2 takes an empty crate or tray from the second feed belt and transfers it onto the discharge track, which moves in the same direction as the products. Schubert’s flexibility is shown in yet again in the loading process: The robot can turn and orient the Multipacks in any way as required by the current size.
The full crates or Logipack trays exit the TLM line and reach the fully automatic palletizing system. The load is secured with a strapping band and film band roll or individually with the film stretcher (turning arm winder), depending on the pallet type.