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高效西得乐整线助力NIAGARA年增产200万箱瓶装水

Niagara Bottling LLC是行业领先的贴牌瓶装水供应商,在美国和墨西哥拥有多家工厂。最近,公司对其盐湖城工厂进行产线升级,安装了一条西得乐PET整线。该生产线包含两套Super Combi,配备创新设计的紧凑型地面高度进胚器EasyFEED™,以及致博希迈的传送和生产线终端设备。投资引进此套设备,使这家装瓶商拥有了高速高效生产能力和高可用性的生产线,从而大幅提高产能。

 

历经50年的发展,Niagara Bottling LLC深谙瓶装水市场的成功之道:为客户提供高品质的产品,既保证安全,又富有良好的口感。美国PET瓶装水市场2016到2020年的CAGR(年复合增长率)预计为3%[1]。根据这一市场发展态势,公司决定与西得乐建立长期业务合作关系,投资引进一条新的PET整线,以提高其产能来满足消费者需求。这个决定是一项关键举措,既提高了生产绩效和安全性,又提升成本效益。

 

更高的可用性和效率提升产线生产能力 

Niagara工厂引进的这条新整线,开始端配备西得乐EasyFEED™,这是专用于PET生产线的创新型进胚器,安全可靠,结构紧凑,可在地面高度布置。瓶胚由升降机柱从料斗提升到仅2.5米高度,然后经整理后,垂直送入旋转式理胚机的转盘。瓶胚被放置在转盘边缘,通过瓶口凸缘支撑,由经过过滤的气流推送到轨道上。这不同于传统的重力进给导轨,而是采用两条电机驱动的食品级移动刷皮带,将瓶胚一直输送到进给吹瓶轮,有助于保持极佳的瓶胚完好性。这项专利技术显著减少了设备占地面积,缩短进胚高度,保证操作员的安全性,总体上提高了操作便利性。 

Niagara Bottling LLC负责生产的执行副总裁Bill Hall对此谈到:“EasyFEED进胚器在地面高度操作,避免了进给流程带来的重力影响,并且使用电机驱动的食品级移动刷皮带将瓶胚送入吹瓶机,这些能确保提高生产流程控制。由此带来了OEE(设备综合效率)的改善,按照我们的估算,每年出瓶量可增加2%。在配备EasyFEED和西得乐Super Combi这样的生产线上,相当于每年多生产200万箱瓶装水。传统的进胚器不可能达到这个产量,我们对所取得成效非常满意。” 

像Niagara Bottling LLC这样的PET瓶装水生产商,既需要生产线具有极高的速度,能够处理超轻PET瓶,同时还要提高生产线的效率。西得乐EasyFEED的产出速度达到82000瓶/小时,对这些生产商可谓是理想之选。 

Niagara Bottling LLC生产副总裁Paul Wilson补充道:“这两套EasyFEED解决方案让我们受益匪浅。在机器可用性方面,这些设备的运行效率超过98%,平均无故障时间(MTBF)超过3个小时,相比以往我们达到的水平有大幅改进。此外,在瓶胚完好性方面,EasyFEED在瓶胚搬运处理上极其高效,可向吹瓶机输送品质良好的瓶胚。该设备可用性极高,很少需要操作员介入。当需要人工介入时,其地面高度设计也能尽可能保证操作安全性。总之,新进胚器带动提高了生产绩效。”

 

新一代解决方案提升PET包装质量 

进胚器的极佳表现,开启了PET瓶生产的成功之旅,而Super Combi则是降低客户总拥有成本(TCO)和保持极高效率的关键。Niagara Bottling LLC团队意识到,设备紧凑的布局,集成式贴标机带来的更高利用率,以及贴标机本身的重新设计,极有利于他们实现生产目标。显然,西得乐提供的贴标技术让这家瓶装水生产商相当满意。Paul进一步解释说:“就可用性来说,这台贴标机效果惊人:操作非常便利,贴标效率高、质量好,可确保高水平的性能表现。” 

Niagara是首批装配全新Roll-Fed滚标贴标机的公司之一。该设备可处理轻质包装瓶和超薄标签,而且改善了胶水控制和分配,减少消耗。此贴标解决方案使用热胶来粘贴环绕式塑料标签,在开发过程中,西得乐工程师始终重视操作便利性。贴标机真空鼓采用轻质区段结构,可快速轻松更换,而且还配备新近获得专利的可调吸标块,延长正常生产时间,维护时间极短。该解决方案大幅优化设备的人体工学,生产效率出众,资源消耗低。在生产和维护期间,所有主要部件都完全可见且可以触及,无需切断贴标站即可完成操作。 

Bill评价说:“有了西得乐吹瓶机和灌装机,产品质量就有了保障,这在Niagara深受好评。利用Super Combi一体化系统,我们可以更加轻松地处理超轻包装瓶,同时还能确保更高的瓶子顶压负荷。现在,新贴标机已就位,我们也拥有了一套真正高效可靠的解决方案。” 

Super Combi是理想的生产设备,可最大程度提升产能,提高生产线效率,同时降低总拥有成本;Niagara也注意到了这一点。Bill评价说:“这个一体化系统提高了我们的总体包装质量。而且该解决方案的产品灌装环境也更加安全。另外,从人体工学角度来说,Super Combi结构极其紧凑,便于触及各个部件,生产换型更加顺畅快捷。”谈到Super Combi,Paul强调了其集成的视像系统所发挥的作用,它能控制整套解决方案的性能:“这是系统内保障产品质量的部件。它能检测到包装瓶表面、瓶身和瓶底上任何微小的缺陷,同时能够按要求检查标签粘贴、灌装液位、瓶盖位置是否正确。总之,它能够始终保障我们为客户生产的产品达到优质水准。” 

这家业内领先的瓶装水生产商的产品涵盖40多种不同品牌,因此在投资引进新设备时,降低TCO尤为关键。有了操作安全便利的EasyFEED作为生产线的始端设备,加上Super Combi在吹瓶、灌装、贴标和旋盖工艺上的卓越性能表现,接下来就需要对生产线终端作业进行优化,以适应生产布局要求,在极高速度下实现高效生产,并降低总体资金投入。这就是西得乐集团致博希迈公司工程师的切入点。Niagara的生产线终端设备包括致博希迈的高速热收缩包装系统,可对瓶装水进行高质量的打包装箱;低位码垛机布局通畅,方便操作维护,采用机械臂在进给口处完成垛层成形,始终确保可靠的不停机生产。有了这些功能组件,该解决方案可达到极高的性能,使整条生产线从头到尾都表现出卓越的效率和灵活性。

 

[1] 欧睿国际

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Niagara Bottling LLC
, with more than 50 years of business experience, has based its success in the water market on offering customers a high-quality product, which is safe and has a great taste profile. Grounded on the fact that the PET bottled water market in the US is expected to grow by a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 3% year on year between 2016 and 2020[1], the company decided to rely on its long-standing business relationship with Sidel and install a new complete PET line to enlarge its production capacity to answer consumers’ demand. This choice is proving key to deliver higher performance and safety, while increasing cost efficiency. 

Greater availability and efficiency to boost productivity 

Starting point of the new complete line at Niagara’s plant is Sidel’s EasyFEED, an innovative, compact and safe ground-level preform feeder for PET lines. From the hopper, the preforms are lifted by an elevator column to only 2.5 metres. They are then sorted and vertically driven into the bowl of a rotary unscrambler. Positioned at the edge of a rotating table and supported by the neck flange, the preforms are moved onto a rail by a filtered airflow. Instead of traditional gravimetric infeed rails, the preforms are driven by two motorised, food-grade brush belts up to the infeed blowing wheel, contributing to keep the level of preform integrity very high. This patented technology ensures operators’ safety and overall easier operations by significantly reducing the footprint and the height for preform infeed. 

Bill Hall, Executive Vice President of Manufacturing at Niagara Bottling LLC, comments, “By keeping operations at ground level, removing the impact of gravity from the feeding process, and using motorised, food-grade brush belts – to move the preforms into the blow moulder – the EasyFEED preform feeder ensures greater control over the production. As a result, we have seen OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) improvements, which are worth about 2% more produced bottles per year according to our estimations. In a line like the one embedding EasyFEED and the Sidel Super Combis, this translates to 2 million cases per year of extra productivity. That would not have been possible with a traditional preform feeder, so we are really happy with this achievement.” 

With output speeds up to 82,000 bottles per hour, Sidel EasyFEED is optimal for PET water bottle producers like Niagara Bottling LLC, who need to combine very high-speed production lines with ultra-light PET bottles handling, while increasing the availability of their lines.

“We have seen large gains with the two EasyFEED solutions. In terms of machine availability, they are running above 98%, with a mean time between failures (MTBF) that is more than three hours: this is a big improvement to anything we have seen in the past. In addition, in terms of preform integrity, the handling via EasyFEED is extremely efficient and provides good quality preforms to the blow moulder. Its very high level of availability requires minor interventions from operators. And – when needed – its ground-level design provides maximum safety. All in all, we have gotten better performance from the new preform feeders,” adds Paul Wilson, Vice President of Manufacturing at Niagara Bottling LLC

Enhancing PET packaging quality through next-generation solutions 

While the successful journey of the PET bottle starts with the right preform feeder, the Super Combi is crucial in reducing total costs of ownership (TCO) for the customer and maintaining a very high level of efficiency. The team at Niagara Bottling LLC recognises that its tighter layout, a better utilisation of the integrated labeller and the redesign of the labeller itself are extremely beneficial for their production targets. Namely, the labelling technology provided by Sidel is quite exciting for the bottled water producer. “Talking about availability, the labeller has shown impressive results: it offers great ease of operations, together with efficient and top-quality label application, ensuring high-level performances,” explains Paul further. 

Niagara is one of the first companies running the brand-new Roll-Fed labeller, which can handle lightweight containers and ultra-thin labels, yet allowing for better glue control and distribution, together with reduced consumption. While developing this labelling solution, which uses hot glue to apply wrap-around plastic labels, ease of operations has been high on the Sidel engineers’ agenda. The vacuum drum is built in light-weight sectors for easy and quick replacement and features newly patented adjustable pads for longer production time and minimal maintenance time. The ergonomics of the solution have been significantly optimised for top productivity and a sustainable footprint, with all main components fully visible and accessible during production or maintenance, without having to disengage the station. 

Bill comments, “The product quality secured by Sidel blow moulders and fillers was already well known in Niagara. With the all-in-one Super Combi system, we can handle even ultra-light bottles more easily, yet ensuring higher top loads. Now, with the new labeller in place, we are also getting a truly efficient and reliable solution.” 

The Super Combi is the ideal way to maximise production and increase line efficiency while reducing TCO; a fact that Niagara has also noticed. “The all-in-one system has improved our overall packaging quality. Plus the solution comes with a safer environment to fill products in. Also, ergonomically speaking, the Super Combi is both very compact and easy to access. Changeovers are smoother and easier,” remarks Bill. Talking of Super Combi, Paul notes the difference made by its integrated vision system, controlling the whole solution performance: “This is a high-quality piece within the system. It is able to capture any kind of minor defects on the bottle’s surface, body, and base, while duly checking the correct label application, filling level, and cap positioning. All in all, it ensures a top-quality product for our customers – always.” 

For the leading producer of bottled water, which covers more than 40 different brands, the reduction of TCO was the key when they invested in the new piece of equipment. With EasyFEED as the safe and easy-to-operate entry point to the line and Super Combis showing their performance in blowing, filling, labelling, and capping, the end-of-line production needed to be optimised for footprint, efficiency at very high speeds, and overall lower capital expenditure. This is where engineers at Gebo Cermex, part of the Sidel Group, stepped in. The Gebo Cermex high speed shrink-wrapping system, which is part of the end-of-line at Niagara, delivers high quality packs, and the fully accessible low level palletiser with robotic layer preparation at the infeed always ensure reliable, non-stop production. With these features, the solutions hold performance extremely high, providing the entire line – from start to finish – with unmatched efficiency and flexibility. 

 

[1] Euromonitor International

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