Bottling Line

Application Notes

About Bottling Lines

Bottling & filling manufacturers run a continuous process of filling, labeling and packaging fluids, and sometimes blow molding the containers are part of the process.

Processes typically involved in bottling applications:

  1. Blow molding the bottle
  2. Filling the bottle with liquid
  3. Capping the bottle
  4. Labeling the bottle
  5. Weighing the bottle against QA
  6. Packing
Manufacturing Challenges FreePoint technologies

The Challenge

Bottling and filling lines are often older; typically designed to run at a certain rate, with no guarantee that they will meet said rate. Scrap and other reasons between the different stages, can result in losses that create lower yields. The various PLCs controlling the line have little or no effective connectivity to other devices or monitoring software. Line uptime is critical to the operation, as is the effective yield from station to station.  As such, it cannot be offline for extended periods, making retrofits and upgrades difficult to do.

Manufacturers in this industry are looking to monitor the health of their continuous running process and for ways to increase efficiency in their bottling line. The key metrics are:

  • Yield – What percentage of bottles are properly formed, filled and packaged
  • Run to Rate Time – The time that the line is actually running to the target rate

The Approach

FreePoint connects non-invasively to the different stages of the bottling or filling line, collecting critical information at each stage. It can be done by:

  • Connecting to identified PLC outputs
  • Installing through beam or reflective sensors to count units

Each of these signals would be connected to a single FPT 4i. It would be typical for the line to have one or more quality inspection stations.

By counting the signals of the various stations, it is possible to determine the speed and yield of the line. If 1000 bottles are blow molded in a period of time but only 900 have been filled, capped and packaged, then the yield for that period would be 90%.

FreePoint API Custom Software
FreePoint Technologies Watchlive product

The Solution

Manufacturers in this industry can identify and address bottlenecks in their process by implementing machine monitoring. By understanding and rectifying these bottlenecks, they can produce more bottles per minute and waste less material. Most importantly, they can increase their production capacity without purchasing new machines or hiring additional staff.

  • Identify & eliminate bottlenecks
  • Increase production capacity
  • Decrease scrap & downtime
  • Improve profitability

The Outcome

The counters from each or any of the various stages would indicate that value adding work is being done, and would be used to calculate rate, units produced (filled), and yield. FreePoint’s ShiftWorx software would track the line’s uptime, running time, units produced, and running rate.

The increased transparency often results in an increase in productivity right away. Engaging the operators through a very simple, intuitive Narration tool, does two things: it collects empirical downtime information that facilitates data driven decisions, and it engages the operators and makes them part of the solution.

With the data collected, manufacturers can:

  • Provide more accurate job estimates
  • Improve their competitive advantage
  • Increase overall production capacity
FreePoint Technologies Narrative Reporting

Example Stages to Measure

KEY METRICS FOR BOTTLING LINES

Comparing the 3 key metrics below, we can determine the percentage of successfully processed bottles. Assessing these metrics provides a better idea of whether a process is healthy, if it is running to rate, and how well scrap is being managed. Additionally, the primary metric for these manufacturers is the speed at which their line is running, which is measured by the number of bottles per minute using a sensor.

BLOWING

How many bottles are blown but not filled?

FILLING

How many bottled were blown, filled but not capped?

CAPPING & QUALITY

How many bottles were blown, filled, capped but didn’t pass quality control?

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