One of the largest, iconic beverage brands recently added to its footprint in the energy drinks space by acquiring one of the best-known independent players in that market. This acquisition helped to cement the purchaser’s position as a top provider in this highly competitive and fast-growing beverage segment. As is always the case in beverage products, the key to success was rapid product integration and seamless changeover in the eyes of the consumers.
This new owner intended to leverage existing capacity to manufacture more than a dozen new products. Their recent investments in flexible packaging solutions proved to be able to handle most of the required bottle types and sizes but they required a few more options when it came to their bottle sleevers. An existing packaging line was adapted to incorporate new sleever and blower units as well as some permanent routing to the plant’s six-pack bundlers. All this came with the added time challenge of required completion within 60 days of project inception.
The manufacturer turned to long-term partner Krones for a solution. In this case, a Krones machine wasn’t the solution, but Krones’ flexible integration team in the form of subsidiary Process and Data Automation (PDA). And they were prepared to assist. Fortunately, PDA had an established relationship with the client so ramp-up time was nearly non-existent. PDA quickly assessed the site and existing equipment, proposed new equipment, and then devised an immediate solution.
While the end client physically prepared the site for the rapid changeover, Process and Data Automation worked with all the required OEMs to ensure that it was seamless. The PDA team took lead on the interaction between the Hartness infeed and takeout conveyor OEM, the new Fuji bottle sleevers’ manufacturer, and the Hi Cone six-pack bunders’ team. They developed the required handshake protocol for all the equipment’s ControlLogix PACs to handle machine communications between the existing and new equipment. They also prepared the modifications to the existing controls, which would now be absent the original sleever machines and related conveyors. Finally, they administered all the required changes to the line’s Ethernet network and devised a comprehensive solution for all the project participants to follow.
The entire project spanned a mere six weeks from mobilization, and the changeover was seamless as planned. The Process and Data Automation team verified the proper removal of all abandoned code, verified the stand-alone operation of all new line equipment, and then verified complete system operation. Complete system validation included normal operation in each operating mode, alarm and abnormal operation routes and scenarios, and system recovery. The PDA team also performed line balancing across an array of product SKUs and taught site personnel to make similar adjustments for new products as they appear on the line.
All equipment operated as required by the client on the first day of normal production. This client realized again the power of partners like Krones and Process and Data Automation and the role they play in delivering comprehensive solutions even when a simple machine solution won’t fill the entire need. As they expand at this site and many others the PDA/Krones relationship will be one that they leverage for future project successes.
Posted In: Application Stories
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