Since the commissioning of the new Krones bottling line in mid-2018 at the latest, there have now been two further aspects in the focus of corporate attention: “We’re just about to position ourselves as the most sustainable mineral water bottler in Europe, while also seeing our company as a pioneer of digitalisation in our chosen sector,” adds Heiner Wolters. Fachingen decided to invest in a line for filling returnable glass containers, rated at 36,000 bottles an hour.
One notable special feature: it extends over three storeys.
On the ground floor, the empties are passed into the hall via a very large infeed table for 4 x 3 pallets, are distributed onto two track routes and first of all depalletised. Two sorting systems then distribute the crates. One special characteristic is that due to the low ceiling height it is not column palletisers but a total of four Robogrip 4A palletising robots that are working here: two for unloading the pallets, plus one each for palletising sorted crates of empties, and fulls.
On the first floor, a Smartpac unpacks the crates, a Rotomat removes the screw-caps, and two Sekamat sorting systems separate the containers into two types: one of green medicinal water bottles and one of white mineral water bottles. It is on this floor, too, that the containers are passed to the high-level infeed of the bottle washer.
One storey higher up, the bottles are cleaned by a Lavatec E4, which is enclosed in a room where the air is changed 25 times in one hour. The rest of the topmost floor features a similar cleanroom structure, with F9 filtration, a slight overpressure, and the air being changed five times an hour. “In accordance with the EC’s GMP Guideline, this corresponds to Purity Class D for the production of sterile medicines and is comparable to the air atmosphere in an ICU,” explains Plant Manager Reinhard Stahl. To comply with the GMP criteria, moreover, all parts coming into contact with the product are in hygienic design and made of V4A stainless steel, and the conveyors right up to the filler are also enclosed. Downstream of the Linatronic empty-bottle inspector, the bottles are passed to a block comprising a Modulfill HES probe-controlled filler and an Ergomodul modularised labeller. After that, a Smartpac packs the filled bottles. The VarioClean CIP system and the Carboflow carbonator have likewise been accommodated on this floor in a separate room.