Flexibility par excellence
Schubert TLM technology for drinks manufacturer
To begin with, however, it looked like the collaboration was doomed to failure as the client simply had not budgeted for such a modern solution to its requirements. The problem was that the budget had already been approved for a traditional packaging line in which each process step is executed by a separate machine, each of which can only deal with one or two formats. However, the packaging line proposed by Schubert was in a completely different league. The modular construction of the TLM lines, the transmodule in particular, and Schubert’s decades of experience enabled the company to develop a machine that can deal with all formats on one line, from top clips (a sleeve covering the bottle neck and top only) and baskets (four bottles in a carton with a handle at the top) to gift boxes.
Only one competitor had offered similar technology, but with a lower throughput speed and fewer formats. There was no other solution on the market comparable to that offered by Schubert. The TLM packaging line for bottles which Schubert developed for this client remains the most modern bottle packaging line in the world.
The technology even exceeded the expectations expressed during negotiations. The time needed for format changes was stipulated as 45 minutes in the contract, but ultimately the transition was achieved in around 30 minutes.
One key sales argument was the systematic use of wrap-around cartons. A further advantage of the solution offered by Schubert is the fact that the bottles are picked up and placed separately into the transmodule and do not touch each other during transit. This careful way of transporting the bottles with no product congestion means there is no longer any damage to labels.
Careful pick & place solution
The pick & place solution also enables all the labels of the bottles to be turned to face in the same direction. This is particularly important for gift boxes because the labels need to be turned so that they can be seen through the window of the box.
When the bottles arrive at the packaging line they are scanned by the Schubert scanner and placed by the TLM F44 robot into the specifically sized format plates on the transmodule with millimetre precision. To ensure the labels are facing in the correct direction for the packaging, the bottles are also turned.
Once the Schubert scanner has recognized the bottles, a TLM F44 robot places them into the specifically sized plate on the transmodule with millimetre precision.
In the next step, the various sizes of wrap-around cartons are prepared. Very important for this machine are the pre-glued dividers. These separate the individual bottles inside the carton. While manual dividers are extremely unstable and are therefore not suitable for machine processing, pre-glued dividers allow machine processing and thus deliver higher machine efficiency. A further special feature of these dividers is that they extend up the entire height of the bottle. The pre-glued cartons with dividers used on this line are supplied by Graphic Packaging International of Bremen, who designed a special machine to produce them.
The line is set up for four bottle formats, namely 0.2 l, 0.375 l, 0.75 l and 1.5 l. As well as top clips and baskets there are other packaging formats such as gift boxes, which have been designed to accommodate either six or twelve 0.75 l or 1.5 l bottles. For the smallest bottle format, 0.2 l, the capacity of the machine is 15,000 bottles per hour, while for the largest bottle format the throughput is 7,000 bottles per hour.
A TLM F2 robot takes 12 bottles out of the transmodule simultaneously and places them into the gift boxes.
Track & trace system
Another special feature of the packaging line is its track & trace system. As the bottles arrive, the bottle codes printed on the labels are scanned, so every bottle can be traced on its way through the machine; the collected data is then passed on to the next module, where it is transferred onto the carton.
The efficiency of the packaging line is over 96 percent. There is no other packaging machine in the world that can carry out so many functions.
As the number of orders for machines in various different formats begins to increase, Gerald Schubert is entertaining a vision that goes even further: with the help of the transmodule, which is relatively new in bottle packaging, he would one day like to build a machine that really can do everything: remove bottles from the pallet, wash them, cap them with cork, wire, etc., and label them. For sparkling wine, which is filled under pressure, this would be a particularly challenging task. Perhaps this vision will become reality one day – the client for one, would certainly be more than willing to become involved with such a development by Schubert.