The ecologically beneficial swing-stopper bottles, appreciated as they are by consumers, have been part and parcel of the mid-tier brewery’s philosophy for more than 30 years now. Pott’s focus is quite definitely on specialties. Mainstream products are out of the question for Managing Director Jörg Pott, especially as he believes their taste does not allow for sufficiently distinctive differentiation. “We’re at home in the Münsterland region, this is where our roots are, and that’s what’s important to us,” he emphasises. Pott’s advertising is also attuned to this leitmotif: “Originals from the Münsterland. Refreshingly natural. Pott’s”. And for the brewery “refreshingly natural” means not to have to treat their beer specialties for surviving lengthy transport distances, something that would tend to rob them of their authentic taste.
For Jörg Pott, this special type of bottle fits in ideally with the beerscape in the Münsterland region – and he’s confident it’s a bottle with a future. This is why the brewery is keen to repeatedly incorporate technical improvements in its brewing process and in its bottling hall.
Rubber seal inspection by a ModulCheck
So it was a happy coincidence that Krones had meanwhile design-enhanced its rubber seal inspection capabilities in-house. Pott’s accordingly placed an order with Krones for a new ModulCheck rubber seal monitor and for a Linatronic 735 empty-bottle inspector. The upstream ModulCheck verifies the presence and correct colour of the rubber seals on the swing-stopper bottles’ porcelain heads; it can do this for all positions of the rubber seal. Moreover, the unit detects soiling, faded rubber seals, and any labels/label residues still adhering to the swing.
The new ModulCheck offers numerous advantages: it does not touch the bottles and can also be relied upon to detect soiling in the area of the porcelain head. What’s more, it doesn’t consume any wear parts, and can easily be matched to a new variant at change-overs.
In addition to the basic ModulCheck unit, further system components have been integrated: to start with, an infeed worm which leads the bottles through the machine in single-lane transport, followed by a container-contour detector working with a camera, plus a pusher for rejecting non-conforming containers.
Empty-bottle inspection with the Linatronic
To detect chipping on the sealing surface and at the sides of it even more reliably, the neck finish is inspected with a Dualflash unit: two different illumination angles with a minimised time offset here ensure separate inspection for the outer and inner sealing surfaces.
The two side-wall modules are fitted with four cabinets and four cameras in full-front view. This enables foreign bottles to be detected, and scuffed bottles to be rejected in the inspector’s infeed. In addition, the inspection system also detects transparent films at the container’s base and side-walls, plus any glass fragments lying at the bottom of the container.
When inspecting swing-stopper bottles, the Linatronic also takes a long hard look at the stopper itself: if the clamp-type lower part of the swing-stopper and the porcelain head are on different sides of the neck area, a four-mega-pixel neck-finish camera can be relied upon to detect this fault, and to check the sealing surface as well.
In response to Pott’s explicit request, an additional program for customer-specific test bottles has been integrated, which was likewise supplied together with the inspector.
Impeccable monitoring and quality
“With the Linatronic and the ModulCheck, we have significantly increased inspection accuracy for rubber seal monitoring, in particular,” says a satisfied brewmaster Lars Rugge. “Especially, the differentiation between genuine dirt and mere shadows at the rubber seals is now a whole lot more effective. This has enabled us to substantially downsize erroneous rejections. And any labels still adhering to the swing are now detected earlier as well. Since all the kit in our bottling line is now single-sourced from Krones, we hope to be able to lastingly improve our overall line effectiveness even further.”
In the brewmaster’s opinion, demand for beer in swing-stopper bottles continues unbroken: “In 2014, we achieved very good growth rates, and were able to keep our sales at that high level in 2015 as well. Our concentration on, and the long experience we’ve gained with filling swing-stopper bottles have also qualified us for handling a huge variety of contract-bottling jobs.” For Managing Director Jörg Pott, this investment is a contribution towards safeguarding the brewery’s future: “We’re happy that Krones has dealt with the topic of rubber seal inspection in-house. We’re anticipating impeccable inspection routines and enhanced quality levels for our filled swing-stopper bottles – and we’re definitely sure that we’ll achieve these aims as well.”