Bottling plants

Where our positioning systems are used: Format changeover on empty bottling plants at KRONES AG.

When it comes to format changeover in bottling plants, it is not only the optimum functionality and availability of the mechatronic drives that are important. The containers are as individual as the beverages they contain. Not only do the different sizes and shapes bring their own special requirements - the materials can also significantly change the handling in the machine. We supply products that are tailored to the requirements of your application. In this example, we are talking about glass bottles that have to be fed and inspected before filling.

Made-to-measure format change­overs for inspection units in bottling plants

When the operating managers of major breweries present their state-of-the-art bottling plant, they wash a large number of bottles very quickly. The visitor is amazed as these fragile vessels are propelled through the machine. However, an experienced manager knows the importance of speed when the bottles are not moving. This machine is designed so that changeover downtime is no longer significant and changeover precision does not vary. The plant can afford more frequent changeovers and support a more flexible operation. The example of bottle inspection machines makes this particularly clear.

Machines for inspecting empty bottles, such as the Linatronic 735 made by the bottling specialist Krones AG, monitor washed reusable bottles for dirt and damage. A reliable standard of bottle washing quality within the bottling plant translates directly into greater safety for the consumer – reusing bottles should not mean compromising on the hygiene and proper condition of the bottles! At the same time, this requires a high level of flexibility as the bottle inspector must be capable of monitoring a wide range of bottle formats. For the operating manager, a hygienic design that can be adjusted automatically at the touch of a button to different bottle types equates to reproducibility and efficiency!


Inspection system for empty bottles – the Krones Linatronic 735
Inspection system for empty bottles – the Krones Linatronic 735

At the headquarters of Krones AG in Neutraubling, Germany, Mr Rudolf Fiegler, Head of Product Management for Inspection Technology, explains what flexibility means in practice to machinery and plant designers. The key is to be able to guide a wide variety of bottle formats safely through the inspection line at high speed (up to 72,000 bottles per hour). Glass bottles have tolerances of up to 7 mm so the bottles are guided by belts on both sides. When the bottle format is changed, e.g. from a rotund to a thin bottle, the position of the belts must be changed using a positioning system. In order to prevent tilting, this must be performed simultaneously and synchronized for both belts by two positioning units.

Changing the belt position, however, is just the beginning: The bottle inspector contains a number of different inspection systems, which must be adjusted to the new bottle format. In Linatronic‘s plants, a number of these systems are arranged in series. Optical measuring systems, including colour detection, are used to detect rust. Threads must be inspected for damage – also using an optical sensor. Systems for detecting the presence of liquid residues take a different approach: these use high frequency sensors, which spot even the smallest residues of bases, oils or water. Krones AG uses PSE positioning systems from Halstrup-Walcher to make these positional adjustments as well.

Thorsten Gut, Product Manager at Krones AG, explains in detail why his company will continue to use PSE positio- ning systems from Halstrup-Walcher in the future:

  • halstrup-walcher offers a wide variety of bus systems for its positioning systems, from Profibus to all common Industrial Ethernet buses, such as ProfiNet or Ethernet/IP.
  • The absolute encoder (which the positioning system uses to measure its momentary position) ensures precision and safety even when components have to be replaced or in the event of a power failure.
  • Versions with a hygienic design and high IP protection classes are also available.
  • Long standstills can occur when the plant requires servicing or due to factory holidays. The advantage of the PSE positioning system is that it offers a good "breakaway torque“, which is significantly higher than the nominal torque. This allows the system to start up again after longer interruptions and be repositioned.
Format changeover in the bottling line
Format changeover in the bottling line
PSE product family – providing optimum adjustment for any positioning task
PSE product family – providing optimum adjustment for any positioning task

Manual position adjustment is no longer an alternative to automatic format adjustment with PSE. Thorsten Gut, Product Manager: "This prevents the machine operator making individual adjustments to the positions. It also reduces training costs and the workload for operating personnel as the new format is set "at the touch of a button“ rather than by a manual intervention that requires instruction. This is critical as these plants are in operation around the world in countries with widely differing levels of training and education.

The KRONES purchasing department sees halstrup-walcher's flexibility as a decisive factor. For example, it was possible to develop and qualify a special version within a short period of time, that allows to achieve a higher protection class with relatively little additional expense.

The plant construction specialist Krones AG is well known for its turnkey plants and systems covering every aspect of bottling. And for its comprehensive world-wide service. Rudolf Fiegler, Head of Product Management for Inspection Technology at Krones: "Today, it is more important than ever that plants are highly available and standstills can be prevented in advance – both through on-site and remote maintenance. The PSE positioning systems we use constantly monitor themselves – in other words, they offer condition monitoring. This enables us to perform maintenance before problems arise (e.g. if a spindle becomes dirty) and significantly improves the availability of the plant.“

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