New in 2015, Gebo, part of packaging line engineering specialists Gebo Cermex, is pleased to present the latest development in their industry-leading range of tunnel machines, a brand new retrofitting service offering a response to a serious problem in certain countries: excess sand in and on returnable bottles. This retrofit targets bottle-washers, i.e. the units at the heart of the issue. It is designed to reduce their maintenance and cleaning operations, extend lifespan and optimize total cost of ownership.
The problem will be familiar to many bottling plant operators dealing with returnable glass bottles or their refillable PET counterparts: with schedules tight and deadlines approaching fast, production has to be suspended because additional cleaning or an unscheduled maintenance operation is required on the bottle-washing unit. The problem: excess sand in the machine.
Sand affecting efficiency
At a stage of the refill process where speed and fluency are critical, any blockages can compromise the overall performance of the bottling plant. Sand is an inevitable part of the bottle-washing process in certain markets such as Southern Europe, the Middle East, Africa or South America, and in industries such as the beer, carbonated soft drinks (CSD) or water sectors. It is an old enemy that needs to be taken care of as efficiently as possible.
As Andrea Solfa, Product Manager of the Tunnel range points out, “When you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of bottles every day, the regular inflow of sand and other contaminants can soon build up into a major problem. Not only does that congest the machinery, it also greatly increases the frequency of cleaning and maintenance required as well as the consumption of spare parts. Quite a few clients have mentioned the problem to us, so we decided it was time to offer a solution to restore their overall performance and drive down their total cost of ownership.”
Fortunately, Gebo found that solution: a new retrofitting service to remove the problem from existing bottle-washing units, including the company’s high-performing Hydra systems and, soon, our Oceano range .
Sand separation – with self-cleaning
This retrofit package boosts efficiency and reliability in four key areas:
- The low-level prewash spray section is fitted with an innovative system separating and extracting sand, most of it from the inside of the bottle. What’s more, the entire system is fully self-cleaning, keeping maintenance requirements to an absolute minimum.
- The upper prewash spray section, which also plays a key role in separating out unwanted sand – this time on the outside of the bottle – is optimised with the addition of a brand new filter system (featuring a new belt path, improved lateral seals and more efficient cleaning jets). Combined with a finer mesh filter, the result is a more thorough clean – and much less sand.
- The detergent tank is equipped with a self-cleaning external filtering station to extract sand and other residues. The goal is to cut down the number of sedimentation treatments required, reducing the number of particles carried over into the next stages of the process and making for a more effective rinse, all while reducing the amount of cleaning needed.
- The post-detergent & rinsing zones are also equipped with upgraded filters and finer mesh, for optimal filtration.
Luca Fiorio, Tunnel Business Unit Director and Managing Director of the Verona facility where these solutions will be engineered, welcomed this latest addition to the Tunnel Machine product family:
“With this new upgrade package, we can make your existing bottle-washing system more efficient, easier to operate, and more durable, as well as increasing the production availability time of the machine. Our first retrofit package has been up and running since last year, and the results and feedback we’ve had have been encouraging. This upgrade adds to the wide array of machines we make, including crate washers , bottle washers , pasteurizers , coolers and warmers for the beverage industry. It is another testimony to the huge experience built up by our Verona plant in tunnel machines over the last 50 years.”
Once again Gebo is leading the way in packaging line optimisation, offering an effective, economical solution to a common problem and helping to make sand blockages a thing of the past.
What is a bottle-washer?
A high-performance bottle-washer is an integral part of any returnable bottling line, removing residues and contaminants and thoroughly cleaning incoming bottles, leaving them with a microbiological profile equivalent to that of fresh water, ready to be refilled. Gebo produces bottle-washers in several different formats, all united by their excellent technical and hygienic specifications. These units are perfect for both glass and refillable PET bottles, used for beer, water and CSD.
This fundamental stage in the bottling procedure can be broken down into a tightly-controlled 5 phase process: infeed, pre-wash, detergent cycle, rinse and discharge. Gebo’s Hydra system represents the cutting edge of bottle-washing technology, with precision engineering at every step of the process:
- Simple and reliable infeed, with a width of up to 6.3 metres and a capacity of up to 120,000 half-litre bottles per hour.
- Modular design for maximum flexibility
- Up to 4 pre-wash zones
- Self-cleaning spray nozzles and filters, ensuring optimal hygienic performance
- Energy saving with multi-usage of water from the network, and heat recovery from the bottle cooling phase
- Single waste label discharge point, with no additional conveyor to further reduce cleaning and potential blockages
- Syncro-drive system, allowing automatic chain tensioning procedure.