A project for the General Soft Drinks Co ltd (GSD) of Malta, the country’s sole licensed bottler of Coca-Cola products, has demonstrated the capacity to add new technology to an existing line with minimum disruption following the installation of a new Rollquattro rollfed labeller in only five days.
The decision to acquire the new Rollquattro labelling machine from Sidel the world’s leading global provider of PET solutions for liquid packaging was taken after GSD had considered the retrofitting of an existing rollfed labeller. “With the high season about to start, we consulted Sidel - originally to have our existing Rollquattro rollfed labeller retrofitted with all the relevant upgrades,” commented Brian Galea, Technical Manager at GSD. “Sidel undertook a careful evaluation of the whole situation on our behalf. When they presented the results of this thorough analysis and the comparable improvements we would likely be faced with by investing in the new machine, we quickly saw the value and sense of the option that they were suggesting, particularly when we realised the potential for installing it in such a short timeframe” he continued.
Staying competitive in a cost-driven market
Within the local bottled water market Malta effectively competes with neighbouring Italy, a country with an annual bottled water per capita consumption of 176 litres. Water volume sales for the whole of Italy - one of the largest producers of bottled water in the world - totalled 11 billion litres in 2014 according to reports by market analyst Euromonitor. Italians and Maltese generally treat mineral water as an everyday drink, rather than a luxury item. However, the number of competing brands inevitably results in a fiercely tough marketplace where the price is driven low and great profitability is difficult to achieve. GSD is consequently run on measurable performance indicators that are regularly monitored to ensure every aspect of production is kept competitive and profitable. This naturally includes the performance of any labelling equipment involved in the process.
Consulting with Sidel to improve TCO
GSD first started working with Sidel in 2002 when it purchased its first Sidel line to produce water in both glass and PET bottles. In 2007 a second line was added, this time devoted to only the PET bottling of carbonated soft drinks in a new modern plant and the old line relocated. Both the original lines were moved and subsequently updated with a line conversion in 2012. Then, when the company decided to improve the efficiency and total cost of ownership (TCO) of the older line originally supplied 12 years earlier, the company naturally again turned to Sidel. The flexible line - used to produce still, sparkling and flavoured water in 0.5, 1.0 and 2.0 litre bottles in both glass and PET - is equipped with standalone equipment. This includes a single blow moulding machine with different fillers and labellers for each packaging material.
Set up to make installation fast and simple
The original PET labelling machine that had given seven years of such efficient and reliable service on the line was a Sidel Rollquattro labeller. Following the evaluation of the options, this was replaced by the new labeller to provide even further benefits. Just like the previous machine, the new Rollquattro from Sidel is for the application of rollfed labels. GSDs' new labeller has the same overall dimensions as the old machine, with a potential output rate of up to 25,000 bottles per hour, and makes use of the same changeover parts. This in itself contributes to the reduction of the overall cost of the GSD investment.
The machine is fully tested by Sidel technicians before shipping to ensure it is simple to install in place of an existing machine, keeping stoppage time to an absolute minimum and reducing the impact on production. For GSD, the whole process, from dismantling the old labeller to the production of the first sellable bottles on the new Rollquattro, took only five days. "With the new machine fitted within a matter of days - and Customer Acceptance Validation reached in under three weeks as we had requested - we were able to tackle production for our high season with even greater labelling efficiency. At the same time, we have optimised the TCO of labelling PET bottles on the line" commented Brian Galea.
Efficient and highly precise
Qualitative plastic labels are applied on all the different waters and formats by the new Rollquattro, supporting the market positioning of the brand Kristal water. The label transfer drum, glue and cutting modules of the new machine are designed to deliver high accuracy and quality time after time. The patented label transfer drum ensures high quality labels fit to bottles. The automated vacuum, with easy and programmable settings, increases label tension and stability control. The label application and overlap alignment are precise at every speed, even for shaped bottles, with no additional wipe-down system required for label overlap closure. Each of the four integrated single rotating cutting blades is highly durable and designed for up to 5,000 working hours. The glue roller’s knurled pattern design leads to significant savings in glue and the roller unit ensures the adhesive remains in excellent condition and, with accuracy and simplicity, always achieves optimal application.
Flexible labelling solution and low maintenance
Brian Galea continues: "GSD production is changed roughly three times every day. So production flexibility in terms of changeover of materials, formats and labels, is essential to us. With a compact footprint, the new Rollquattro linear station design makes access to machine modules easy, thereby making changeovers in format faster. With adjustments for both bottle and label configurations made via the human machine interface (HMI), we now find that we can carry out changeovers within only thirty minutes."
The ergonomic linear design of the new Rollquattro provides control of all labelling processes and allows for simpler maintenance procedures. Modules can be removed from the station and worked on separately. Reduced wearing between the glue-vacuum-drum-cutter roller and the lack of lubrication decreases the need for maintenance. The glue tank, located under the machine base, can be easily and safely accessed by the operator and the vacuum prevents labels from entering the glue roller area to reduce the need for cleaning.