January 1, 2008
By Jennifer Zegler
Can filling and seaming adapts to industry demands
“Bigger, better and faster” has long been the motto for many industries. In can filling and seaming, “better” and “faster” remain top priorities, but beverage companies are ditching the “bigger” aspect of the mantra in a continued search for ways to reduce costs by making cans lighter. The lightweight can options need to be run on machines that work better with faster line speeds and changeover times. On the inspection side, companies seek automated options that sync with computer networks.
While not a new name in the industry, can seamer manufacturer Angelus combined forces with Pneumatic Scale this year. In August, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio-based Pneumatic Scale purchased the Los Angeles-based Angelus. The machinery companies remain in their respective headquarters and have merged their base of salespeople and service technicians to offer worldwide support. Together, the companies are emphasizing their change part and repair services, says Paul Kearney, vice president of sales for the companies now collectively known as PneumaticScaleAngelus.
The most recent addition to Angelus’ product line is the Model 12M, which features 12 seaming stations for beer and beverage applications. The model has change parts for one can size, creates can centers compatible with newest fillers and a second operation off-seam setting. The Model 12M also features an automatic oil lubrication and filtration system. Optional features include motor-driven machine height, filter belt drive, steam vacuum, programmable controller and can manufacturing.
On the horizon, Kearney foresees more companies seeking multi-purpose lines with variable can sizes and rapid changeover. The Model 12M Angelus seamer offers servo programmable changeover to address the trend, he says. Furthermore, companies will continue to look to reduction of in-size seams by 1-mm. or 2-mm. to save on material costs, he says.
North American debut
Switzerland’s Ferrum Ltd. has entered the North American market with a wide range of machinery for can filling and seaming. The company offers machines equipped for closing two-piece or three-piece cans made of steel, aluminum, plastic or cardboard at production speeds ranging from 20 cans to 2,500 cans per minute. Ferrum’s multiple models can accommodate many sizes of can diameters.
Ferrum’s six- to 18-station seamers are equipped with a closed automatic lubrication system, which ensures 24-hour operation without interruption. The system also includes loss-free automatic seaming roll lubrication. For coffee and other vacuum-sealed beverage products, Ferrum created the FSN and FSH models that are used for the evacuation, injection of gas and closing of round cans with oxygen-sensitive products. These models may be operated at speeds of up to 600 cans per minute.
To accommodate the growing industry demand for reduced changeover time, Ferrum introduced the quick changeover kit for its can seaming machines. The kits are available for Ferrum’s new F400 Series seamers as well as existing beverage machine types. The kit adjusts the end feed, seaming lever, end guide rails and can guide rails to allow changeover time of one and a half to two and half hours. It is also possible to order the quick changeover kit for a retrofit on existing can seaming machines, Ferrum says.
Additionally, the company offers filling and closing systems. Ferrum has a range of equipment for liquid filling into cans, plastic, cardboard and glass containers. The volumetric filling machines are piston operated and can be set to speeds of up to 850 units per minute. It also offers a monobloc system to integrate machinery for the in-line filling and closing of cans, which provides greater levels of automation in the packaging process.
Automation moving forward
Another strong name in the can filling industry is Krones. Based in Germany, Krones presents empty can inspectors and high-performance filling technology as well as additional machines to complete the packaging process. The company made available the Volumetric VOC can filler that pre-doses the filling quantity to achieve high filling speeds. Depending on the filler size, the Volumetric VOC can run up to 120,000 cans per hour.
To ensure filling accuracy and keep up with packaging innovations, KHS USA Inc., Edgewater, Fla., created the Innofill DVD computer-controlled can filler. The Innofill uses an electromagnetic induction flowmetering process to achieve maximum filling level accuracy, the company says. The machine is well-suited to run contour cans, beverages containing fruit pulp, warm-filled beer and soft drinks. The KHS model fills warm beer and soft drinks at capacities ranging from 27,000 cans per hour using 36 valves up to 120,000 cans per hour for the 164 valve model.
In particular for beer filling, especially non-pasteurized beers, the computer controlled can filling provided by the Innofill meets lower total product oxygen requirements by providing customized container flushing and gentle beer handling, the company says. The machine is also equipped to fill draught-style beer and stout in cans that use pressurized widget technology. The valves on the Innofill can be equipped with “widget charging” gas channels that activate the packaging technology. The charging gas channel can be de-activated when the line is running standard beer.
The computer-programmed can capacities help save product as well as time for changeovers, KHS says. Additionally, no mechanical parts are exposed to direct contact with the product during filling with the Innofill volumetic flowmetering system. The machine also offers added microbiological safety through a membrane sealing technique of electropneumatically controlled filling valves already popular in bottle fillers.
Automation also drove innovation at CMC Kuhnke, Hudson, N.Y., which released the Mars-Seam fully automated double-seam inspection system. The Mars-Seam is an operator independent station that takes each can through a standard cross-section double-seam measurement process. The model currently is used in major breweries and soft drink canning facilities in the United States.
A line operator can load the Mars-Seam in less than two minutes and return to work on the line. Meanwhile, the machine will begin automated inspection, and in less than 15 minutes, data from a full 18-head display inspection, is available for plant-wide review and analysis.
The Mars-Seam machine takes one can from each seaming station through three steps. The first measures external characteristics of the can, such as seam thickness, countersink depth and seam height. Second, the machine empties, rinses and dries the can. Finally, the can is cut and a high-resolution image of the double seam is captured and instantly read by a computer.
The collected data is sent to a server for review from administrative workstations. CMC Kuhnke also offers Visionary software, which is data acquisition and reporting software designed to collect data from a wide variety of gauges and instruments, store the data in a server database and relay that data to personnel who can use it to plan production.
The Mars-Seam features network integration, and eases the task of quality assurance personnel, says Alex Grossjohann, vice president and managing director of CMC-Kuhnke. He says the move to automated inspection processes by fillers is one trend addressed by the model.
The company also currently offers a range of inspection and software solutions for can seaming, including the DP1 Double Seam Projector, VSM-III Video Seam Monitor and the S.E.A.M.scan System.