In the latest edition of our Innovation Spotlight feature, KHS updates us on the progress of its Nature MultiPack™ system, which is now suitable for high-capacity ranges.
Originally developed by KHS for packs of PET bottles, the Innopack Nature MultiPack™ packaging machine was initially designed for a capacity range of up to 45,000 bottles per hour plus 20% overcapacity. It quickly became clear, however, that the sustainable concept of holding beverage containers together with dots of adhesive instead of shrink film to form a pack that’s easy to transport and easy for consumers to ‘open’ was also of interest to the canning segment. In close cooperation with the Carlsberg Group, the system has now been successfully introduced in several European countries as packs of four, six or eight cans under the name of ‘snap pack’.
Powerful and future proof
As in the high-performance range, cans are usually filled at a rate of over 100,000 containers per hour, the Innopack Nature MultiPack™ was too slow. In order to perfectly accommodate the requirements of the beverage industry, KHS now also offers the machine for the high-capacity range. Running at overcapacity, it can process up to 108,000 containers per hour, with a maximum of 90,000 containers produced every 60 minutes at nominal capacity. Depending on the format, the machine outputs up to 450 packs of four a minute.
This boost in performance has been made possible by a whole series of technical innovations, as Dr. Matthias Caninenberg, head of Nature MultiPack™ Technology at KHS, explains: “The list of innovations starts with the conveying speed which we’ve increased from 51 to 72 meters per second compared to the machine’s predecessor.”
In the orientation module, KHS has revamped the entire carousel: instead of four this now has six drives that no longer rotate four but three plates apiece. This change makes time for alignment of the containers. Here, a camera takes 400 images of a container on the first reference run while this is turned 360° about its longitudinal axis. In production, the container is photographed just once.
A fast algorithm compares this single image to the 400 taken previously and in doing so determines the current position of every single can or PET bottle. This is then used to calculate any necessary correction to the container’s position, performed by the activated motor in a matter of milliseconds until the container is aligned as required. “This is important with regard to the point of sale, for instance, if the containers are to be arranged in the pack to form a single image,” says Dr. Caninenberg.
Nature MultiPack™ meets beverage industry requirements
One important aspect for sales especially is that the innovative Nature MultiPack™ packaging concept touches on many areas of a beverage bottling plant: from purchasing through production to sales and marketing. “The big players have a strategic agenda that they generally pursue three goals with,” says Christoph Georg von Aichinger, global product account manager for Nature MultiPack™ at KHS.
“First comes sustainability, which is achieved by saving on energy and water consumption and reducing the carbon footprint; second is the desire for growth, and third is the need to generate as high a margin as possible. Nature MultiPack™ is a system that serves all of these three purposes.”
Von Aichinger knows that innovations of this kind hold increasing appeal for medium-sized, owner-managed companies, too. “Their flat hierarchies allow them to be more flexible in their decision-making,” the KHS salesman comments. “We saw this recently with the Martens brewery in Belgium. We basically agreed on a deal there after just a few meetings.”
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This content was sponsored by KHS.