Winery increased productivity with bottling line upgrades
Yalumba winery redesigned its bottling plant to include new drives for the bottle-conveyor system, air conditioning and hospital-grade air filtration. After three years, this has increased productivity by 50%, reduced energy consumption and created a safer work environment.
Jesse Auricht, Engineering Manager at Yalumba, said that typically half the cost of energy is based on network charges, so it is important to avoid any spikes in consumption as the wine bottles are filled, capped, labelled and packed in the bottling plant. “In the energy market, 50% of your cost can be dictated by a half-hour event,” he said. “If you hit that peak once, depending on the time of day, you’ll see an ongoing energy cost increase.”
SEW-EURODRIVE MOVIGEAR mechatronic drive units were used in the upgrade to keep the conveyor lines and bottles moving. The MOVIGEAR units are designed to minimise the use of electrical power and can reduce energy costs by up to 50%, due to the efficiency of all its components. Auricht said this contributed to energy savings, which was beneficial for both the environment and the commercial bottom line.
Starting with their own design concepts, Yulamba issued a tender for detailed design and implementation of the project and awarded it to Foodmach, an Australian provider of machinery design, manufacturing and control services.
Foodmach designed and installed the new conveyor and line control system that combines old and new equipment. Line 1 had the original bottling line with new controls, a new conveyor and new palletisers, and Line 2 was a new line with a new de-palletiser, filler and packer.
SEW-EURODRIVE’s engineering and customer service, MOVIGEAR mechatronic drive system and high-precision servo motors, and MOVIDRIVE controllers helped obtain the desired result.
The upgrade not only saved costs by reducing energy consumption but also created a safer work environment as forklifts no longer entered the bottling operator area, solved a labelling challenge and reduced noise.
One of the problems for wine bottlers is condensation build-up in the labelling area due to the prevailing dewpoint temperature. If the wine temperature is lower than the dewpoint, it is likely that the labels won’t adhere properly. Auricht and his team introduced an enclosed air-conditioned room around the bottling area set to the correct dewpoint, and a positively pressured, hospital-grade filtration system to maintain clean conditions.
However, the fully enclosed air-conditioned room caused additional noise. Auricht explained: “By effectively putting it in a big esky, all the noise in the bottling area was amplified.”
Line 2 runs at 12,000 bph, and glass bottles banging into each other at that rate can be noisy and dangerous. To address these issues, Trevor Burgemeister, Process Control Technician at Yalumba, said the system detects when bottles are about to collide and sets a maximum collision speed. Auricht also said the MOVIGEAR is quiet in comparison to the rest of the system, which contributed to the company’s decision to work with SEW-EURODRIVE.
Noise can be reduced by creating a pressureless line, in terms of the accumulation of bottles at any point on the conveyor system. It occurs when the conveyor is transporting more bottles than the individual machine process rate. If a processing machine for filling, capping or labelling is operating at a slower speed than bottles are being delivered, the bottles bump into each other causing noise. Auricht said that if the conveyor keeps running when this happens, the pressure continues to build causing energy wastage, inefficiency and noise, along with wear and tear on all the conveyors.
On Line 1, the flow is between 5000 and 9000 bph. While the aim is zero pressure on the conveyors, the processing machines require a degree of pressure to function correctly. To achieve this, the conveyors on this line run at set speeds, while the line’s process machines vary their speed as necessary to maintain head pressure of between five and eight bottles.
In the Foodmach line control system, speeds are controlled by software programmed according to a ‘recipe’ that varies for each production variety. The recipe specifies which processing machines are required for the product and also their operating parameters. Recipe data — speed, diameter of bottle, gap between bottles — is communicated from the programmable logic controller (PLC) to the SEW-EURODRIVE gears and units. These are calibrated so that the speed of the conveyor is set correctly. Burgemeister said that connecting the motion-detecting sensors to the motors and gear units, in order to manage the flow of bottles, was a simple operation. “It was just a matter of plugging the photoelectric in,” he said.
If further calibration is required during production or if pressure build-up does begin to occur at one of the process machines, the conveyors are progressively halted to correct the situation. At the same time, the machine will be instructed to operate faster, so that the flow evens out again.
Gavin Alder, Foodmach’s Controls Manager, explained: “An added benefit of such fine line control is the ability to run reverse taper bottles (bottles wider at the shoulder than the base) which traditionally are difficult to run at speed, as bottle collisions result in fallen bottles.”
Correct flow is set up at the start of the operation on the Foodmach depalletisers, where thousands of bph are fed into the two bottling conveyor lines. At this point, several ‘mini’ conveyor lines, running side by side and at different speeds, cause bunched-up groups of bottles to be fed into a single line. Complex programming, communicated to each MOVIGEAR drive in the system, makes the operation look easy.
According to John Gattellari, National Industry Specialist – Food & Beverage with SEW-EURODRIVE, said the compact design of the MOVIGEAR is optimised for horizontal conveyor systems like these. “The motor, gear units and electronics are combined in a single mechatronic drive system,” he said. “It caters for a range of communication systems, single line network installation (SNI), SEW system bus controller (DSC), binary (DBC) or AS-interface (DAC).”
Auricht concluded it was the right decision to use the high-efficiency, low-energy drives, stating, “This was probably one of our most successful projects undertaken — both in time frames and outcomes.”
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