Enormous flexibility: just two words are needed to perfectly describe the benefits yielded by the cooperation between packaging expert KHS and Gerhard Schubert GmbH in Crailsheim, the manufacturer of packaging machines with the world’s greatest experience in top loading. They are thus the first two words which Max Schwaiger, the person responsible for packaging product support at KHS, has to say on the subject. “Enormous flexibility: thanks to the close cooperation with Schubert, KHS can now offer beverage producers practically any kind of packaging variant on one blocked machine.”
In the past KHS has sold a number of classic production lines for processing baskets and/or cluster packs, with the single machines linked by conveyors. In the new blocked system the individual modules are joined without the need for additional conveyor segments, forming a compact unit. This is not the only reason why Schwaiger is enthusiastic about the new system, however. “The high quality of the packaging is the result of consistent use of precision robots on the one hand and the compact design of the machinery on the other which enables the packaging unit to be continuously fixed during the entire process. Another plus is the great flexibility of the packaging system.”
Demand-based and flexible
“We call these systems customized solutions because our customers are given a blocked system consisting of the precise modules they need to meet their specifications regarding both packaging design and performance, these selected from a wide range of different modules,” explains Schwaiger. “This applies both inline and offline – in other words, the system is either an integrated part of the actual filling line or disconnected from the product flow.”
There are also special programs for repacking full containers into various crates or packs onto different pallets. The Schubert machines are combined with KHS Innopack packers so that the number of conveying segments needed for containers and packs is considerably reduced, with only one bulk infeed conveyor required for inline systems, for example. All told, with KHS’ customized solutions impressive outputs of up to 30,000 bottles per hour are also achieved offline, depending on which and how many modules are blocked. Inline capacities of up to 72,000 bottles per hour are even possible.
Also for craft breweries
The plant engineering offered by KHS and Schubert is not only relevant for large breweries; on the hotly contested beer market products often not only have to be distinguished by their quality but also by a higher-quality dressing – that is, more elaborate packaging. The machine can be equipped with an automatic label alignment unit, for instance, which also affords prospective buyers an unobstructed view of the labels when the bottles are in their secondary packaging. This applies not only to large brewery groups but also to smaller companies and even craft breweries. “It’s well worth this target group considering our customized solutions from a relatively modest output of about 100,000 hectoliters per year. The various modules are compiled according to customer requirements and can be added to at a later date as and when required.”
High line availability
Individual configuration of the machine also gives operators practically limitless flexibility. The deciding factor here is that changeover times of under half an hour are easily feasible and no tools at all are required for format changeover. Format changeovers can be reproduced at any time, resulting in high line availability as there is no need for any further format settings or fine adjustment.
The patented Transmodul transport robot is responsible for this, which with its inductive energy supply and wireless transfer of data and signals is able to move freely. Maximum availability and the best possible efficiency are ensured by a reduction in the number of mechanical parts. Not only efficiency but also the ergonomics of the system are important, with the magazines that are easy and convenient to load and operation centrally managed from a touchscreen with low manpower requirements. The machines are compact, clearly structured, and provide optimum access.
The technology in the customized systems has been tried and tested a thousand times over; 130 packaging systems per year are manufactured by Schubert from 900 modules with two-, three-, or four-axis robots. These are standardized machines with a uniform design for all segments of the industry. Gerald Schubert, managing director of Gerhard Schubert GmbH, is thus also pleased. “We’re not talking about prototypes here but about totally robust systems produced by two companies whose experience forms a wonderful synergy.”