Shrink wrapping square bottles
Swiss company Bischofszell Nahrungsmittel (BINA) produces fruit products, ready meals and beverages such as organic juices and iced teas.
Like many other nations across the globe, Switzerland is currently experiencing a health and wellness surge. One way in which this manifests itself is portion control. To benefit from this trend, while also addressing the busy on-the-go lifestyles of consumers, juice manufacturers are expanding their product offerings by reducing the size of their bottles, thus increasing the portfolio of formats they serve.
BINA wanted to process squared bottles for its juice and iced tea drinks while still running round bottles on the same line, in a compact area of the plant at up to 50 cycles/minute at the shrink-wrapping stage. The company integrated a lean, unifiliar 90° infeed system from Sidel in one of its existing shrink wrappers.
“We wanted to package our new juice and iced tea bottles in shrink-wrap film while also having the option of using a tray plus film for some batches — all while keeping the footprint of the solution to a minimum,” said Yasin Kapusuzoglu, Project Manager, Technology, at BINA.
This presented a few challenges, as the orientation of squared containers had to be controlled within the whole process to get a pack with correctly facing bottles — resultantly, a traditional mass flow infeed system was not feasible. Due to the range of bottle formats — from 250 mL to 2 L — processed on the line, production runs are shorter, necessitating frequent changeovers. Compactness was also a deciding factor.
“The alternative of having a lane divider feeding the traditional channels of the shrink wrapper, consequently avoiding mass accumulation, was not appropriate in terms of the footprint. In fact, the area taken by the divider and its conveyors upstream and downstream would require too much space while reducing the circulation around the line,” said Valérie Cattenoz, Overwrapping Product Manager at Sidel.
After evaluating possible solutions, BINA opted for Sidel’s infeed system, as it allowed a compact line layout without jamming at the shrink-wrapper’s infeed due to its design. The shrink wrapper is equipped with a compact and reliable unifiliar 90° infeed system where the flow is managed on one lane, directly from the sleeving machine. The flow of juice and iced tea bottles instead goes straight to the shrink wrapper.
The reliability of this innovative infeed secures a critical part of the shrink wrapper, enabling the management of any shape of bottle — round or squared. A selecting device with lateral brackets delivers the right number of products per row, while ensuring the necessary distance between each row. These rows are then transferred at a 90° angle by an ‘on the fly’ pusher, which redirects the flow of three to five bottles in accordance with the shrink wrapper’s flow direction.
The installed system could potentially run at a maximum speed of 150 cycles/minute, depending on the product size and shape. The infeed is complemented by a tray module, delivering tray plus film packs. For changeovers, the shrink-wrapping solution featured embedded automatic systems, with operators guided through each step via the HMI. Most of the adjustments are done automatically, while the non-automated machines are supported by LED digital counters.
“We appreciate the simple, streamlined unifiliar infeed system where all changeover tasks are carried out automatically in three minutes, delivering a maximum changeover time of 15 minutes for the entire shrink wrapper,” Kapusuzoglu said.
To accommodate the need for the tray plus film option, Sidel designed a removable rolling tray magazine, which can be extracted from the shrink wrapper when running a format without tray support. The circulation around the line is consequently simplified for the consumables and the operations. In a traditional solution, the tray magazine is located underneath the product infeed — however, Sidel’s 90° infeed configuration makes the upper part of the magazine more accessible, allowing an ergonomic manual refilling of the trays in the magazine.
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