First ErgoBloc L up and running
    First ErgoBloc L up and running
      ErgoBloc L is an ultra-compact wet-end monobloc comprising a blow-moulder, a labeller and a filler, with pre-labelling performed prior to filling.

      They are the first users and beneficiaries of a new technology: the Italian mineral water bottlers Tione have since the beginning of 2010 been operating the first ErgoBloc L, a new concept premiered at the last drinktec in 2009. ErgoBloc L is an ultra-compact wet-end monobloc comprising a blow-moulder, a labeller and a filler, with pre-labelling performed prior to filling. Tione has thus been the first bottler to enjoy some multifarious advantages, like high efficiency, minimised footprint and energy-economical operation.

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      It had been decided by drinktec 2009 last September that Tione would be laying claim to the ErgoBloc L with Serial Number One. In October, the line was delivered to Italy, and in January 2010 the wet-end monobloc was already up and running at the plant in Orvieto. The facility of Tione s.r.l. had originally been founded and built in 1991 by the mineral water bottlers San Pellegrino, who in their turn were taken over by Nestlé Waters in 1998. In 2007, Nestlé Waters sold Tione to the Italian investor BSE, a food and beverage logistics company, which thus acquired its very first production facility. Tione’s plant in the region of Umbria, one hour to the north of Rome, employing 25 people, produced approximately 80 million PET containers in 2009, and maintains ten sales offices. At the beginning of 2009, BSE strengthened the production base by purchasing the tradition-steeped Roman mineral water bottlers Acqua Claudia – named after one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied Imperial Rome – which fills around 40 million glass and PET containers a year. 

      Two water brands

      Tione produces only mineral water in PET containers. The principal brands are Fonti di Orvieto and Tione, which are bottled in still, medium and carbonated variants, in 0.5-litre, 1.0-litre, 1.5-litre, 1.75-litre and 2.0-litre containers. The water is taken from a rock spring six kilometres away, at the end of a green valley “from the midst of Umbria’s heartland”. Hitherto, the plant had possessed two bottling lines, one rated at 21,000 bottles an hour and a smaller one rated at 4,000 bph, which have been giving good service ever since the plant was inaugurated almost 20 years ago.

      High expectations for an expanding market

      With its new ErgoBloc L, Tione has increased its capacities by an output of 28,000 containers an hour, equivalent to another 150 million containers produced in a year. Tione had good reasons for making this investment, eliminating as it does a glaring bottleneck in its production capabilities. And the expectations for the future development of the firm’s sales market are high. “We aim to be selling around 120 million bottles already in 2010”, explains Plant Manager Fabio Fioravani. That’s 50 per cent more than in the preceding year. “For 2014, we plan to reach a production output with the three lines of up to 250 million bottles a year.” So far, Tione has been selling the two mineral waters only in the regions of Umbria and Latium/Rome, plus nationwide in the Penny supermarkets. Early in 2010, Tione also began to export its products to South Africa on a modest scale. The Fonti di Orvieto brand is located in the low-price segment, while Tione is a medium-priced article.

      An up-to-the-future product concept: “Aqua Therapy”

      In the high-price segment, Tione has in 2010 launched a brand with an entirely new product idea. For this up-to-the-future concept, called “Aqua Therapy”, specific product claims will be made in regard to health, wellbeing and looks. The six different flavours so far, says the producer, are recommended for avoiding cellulitis, strengthening the body’s immunological system, making your hair healthier, or regulating the cholesterol in your blood, preventing fat deposits or supporting skin protection when exposed to sunlight. The ingenious part about the packaging is this: the two-part closure on the 0.5-litre PET bottle contains a capsule holding the active ingredient concerned, which flows into the mineral water for activation only when the bottle is opened. Tione has already begun to build up an international sales network for this purpose, with associates in the USA and in Brazil.

      Premiere, too, for the new Carboflow deaerator and carbonator

      On the new Krones bottling line, Tione has from the beginning of this year been producing 0.5-litre, 1.5-litre and 1.75-litre bottles. Tione is also the first bottler to have installed for its mixing operations the new, ultra-sturdy Carboflow deaerator and carbonator, which operates on the principle of two-stage pressure deaeration, and when a flavour dosing unit is connected enables aromatised products to be run as well. Carboflow thus offers abundant flexibility. Pressure is used for the deaeration function, with the oxygen and nitrogen contents in the water being removed by adding CO2. During subsequent carbonation, the carbon dioxide is dissolved using the principle of saturation carbonation, which means that the water is deaerated a second time while being simultaneously carbonated. The integrated control system automatically computes the pressure required, and adjusts it continuously to suit the ongoing beverage temperature.

      Newly developed closure feed system: Capcade

      Also being premiered is the newly developed Capcade closure feed unit. Incorrectly aligned or oval closures, or any with damaged tear rings, are rejected very simply in this cascading sorter using the gravity principle , and drop back into the collecting trough. The closure feed is near the floor, and also in the vicinity of the preform feed route for the blow-moulding machine, so that both these stations can be easily supplied by a single operator.

      Monobloc configuration for blow-moulder, labeller and filler

      The totally innovative feature of this line, however, is the monobloc configuration adopted for the Contiform blow-moulding machine, the Starmodule labeller and the Modulfill filler to create the ErgoBloc L. In the Contiform S16, the containers being blow-moulded are transported in the usual way by neck-handling using starwheels mounted on columns. They are passed by the shortest possible route directly to the Starmodule labeller with its two Contiroll wrap-around hotmelt stations, where they are pre-labelled. Since a certain amount of stabilisation pressure is required for pre-labelling, handling parts shaped to resemble the container involved help it to withstand the internal pressure created, thus preventing any deformation. Another interesting innovation at the labeller is the gap processing function, which avoids malfunctions and lost labels by ensuring that no label is dispensed if no container is present. Between the Starmodule and the BLOC-synchronised Modulfill VODM-PET filler, a base cooling unit for water-jetting has been installed on Monotec columns. This serves to cool down the still-warm injection point of the PET containers, so as to prevent the base from inverting.

      Servo joint control is essential

      The 96-valve Modulfill filler, with its round ring bowl, is also fitted with Monotec starwheel columns, and dispenses with a front table in line with the latest design advances. One of the paramount criteria for smooth functioning of the monobloc is the newly developed servo joint control system. “We see servo joint control as essential in enabling us to carry out maintenance separately for each individual machine”, comments Fabio Fioravanti. Servo joint control makes it possible for the three BLOC-synchronised machines to be decoupled from each other electronically. If a malfunction occurs in one of the three machines, servo joint control reduces the effects on the other two machines. In the event of a malfunction at the labeller, for instance, the filler can be run empty independently of the other machine, so as to avoid CO2 losses.

      Krones also installed the VarioClean CIP system, plus the entire dry end, featuring a Variopac Pro packer for non-returnables, plus a Robobox for preparing the pack layers, and a Modulpal palletiser, which was given a design-enhanced pallet feed and a new layer pad buffer.

      “We’re seeing more and more monobloc solutions and everyone’s satisfied with them”

      “We had already had some experience with Krones’ labellers in the past. It was at one of Krones’ in-house exhibitions that we first heard about the new ErgoBloc concept. It’s observable that monobloc solutions from Krones are becoming more and more popular on the Italian market, and everyone’s satisfied with them, particularly in the water segment”, explains Fabio Fioravanti. “We didn’t take long to decide in favour of the ErgoBloc L, even though we’re the first ones to be using this technology, and trying it out, so to speak. The Tione Group expects to get maximum line availability coupled with minimised costs. The ErgoBloc L concept was chosen in order to reduce maintenance costs and also help to cut the raw material costs for the PET preforms, quite apart from the space savings already achieved. Now, instead of the four employees we used to need for the old line, we can manage with just 2.5 in the ErgoBloc L. Overall, buying the ErgoBloc has given us a sophisticated, top-quality piece of technology, which was commissioned within a minimised timeframe by a highly professional team of fitters from Krones”

      The first enviro machine

      And that’s not all in terms of premieres. Tione is operating not only the world’s first ErgoBloc L, but simultaneously the first enviro machine from Krones. “We really liked the look of this sustainable technology”, confirms Fabio Fioravanti. “We expect enviro to give us energy consumption figures that are around 30 per cent lower compared to the existing line. We also aim to take this opportunity to reduce the preform weights, from 32 to 28 grams, for example, in the case of the 1.5-litre bottle for carbonated beverages. Overall, thanks not least to enviro, we’re confidently predicting a line efficiency of more than 95 per cent. This will assure us of competitive advantages on a fiercely contested water market. Without a doubt, this means the ErgoBloc L is also a model for replacement of our old bottling line.“