Jack Mans, Plant Operations Editor

January 30, 2014

11 Min Read
New aseptic line shines

A new state-of-the-art, low-acid aseptic packaging line atKanPak LLC, Arkansas City, KS, is opening new vistas for the food and beverageindustry. The company has installed a 10-lane, inline filler from Hamba USAInc. that runs up to 600 bottles/min. KanPak began working on the line at the endof 2008, and its first production was in January 2010.

KanPak, a family-owned company, began running asepticproducts in 1965, and has long been an industry leader in traditional asepticpouch and bag-in-a-box technology. The new aseptic bottling line providescustomers with an advantage and adds depth to the KanPak arsenal.

"Our advanced technology bottling line brings new options tocustomers that seek to provide shelf-stable solutions," says Dennis Cohlmia,KanPak CEO. "This new line provides the right solutions to meet industry andcustomer demand for high-quality beverages with the versatility of asepticallypackaged products."

Cohlmia takes pride in his company's long history of pairinginnovation with food safety to bring new solutions to its customers. "Ourcompany is constantly evolving," he says. "KanPak is a knowledge-basedbusiness, and we continue to build our business as a developer and manufacturerof aseptic products through advancements in food science, aseptic processingand aseptic packaging."


MADE for aseptic bottling

The first product packaged on the new line was MADE®beverages for Tenaya, LLC. MADE, which is packaged in 16-oz PET bottles, isa certified-organic, all-natural line of beverages that combines green tea andfruit juices with floral and herbal extracts. It is available in eightvarieties: Strawberry Lemonade, Pomegranate Mojito, Blackberry Peach, CranberryLimeade, Strawberry Mojito, Pomegranate Lemonade, Raspberry Peach and BlueberryLemonade.

"MADE beverages can't be made the way I want them withoutaseptic processing and packaging," says Charley Snell, Tenaya founder. "Asepticallows them to have real natural flavor that is organically certified.

"I worked with KanPak during my previous career with a majorfood processor, and I was very impressed with them, so they were my choice whenI founded Tenaya," Snell adds. "KanPak has the knowledge of what a product willtaste like, and has a lot of experience working with product formulations andingredients to deliver that taste.

"KanPak took my samples and worked with them to develop thecommercial product. I began working with KanPak on the MADE project in 2008,when the line was still in the discussion stage, and I'm proud to say that MADEwas the first product off of the line, when it began operation last fall,"Snell says.

The PET bottles used for MADE, which are supplied by BallCorp., feature Plasmax® barrier coatings. Plasmax is an ultra-thin,commercially proven, transparent, internal silicon oxide barrier coating technologythat protects the beverage inside the bottle from oxygen ingress and alsoprevents the PET from absorbing the sterilizing agent used inside of thebottles as part of the aseptic filling process.

Unlike many other PET barriers, Plasmax is easily removedduring the PET recycling process and, as a result, does not contaminate therecycled PET. Finally, because the barrier does not degrade over time, thelength of time bottle inventory can be stored is not limited by the barriermaterial.

"The entire Tenaya team shares a philosophy and a visionabout how to develop products that are better for the earth, good for thecompany and good for people, and we do our part to support the overall healthof the environment," says Snell. "We chose Ball's Plasmax-coated PET bottlesbecause the bottles are 100 percent recyclable and widely accepted forrecycling, and the Plasmax barrier is highly compatible with the asepticfilling process."


Inline aseptic filling

Pallets containing layers of bottles are delivered to thefloor-level infeed conveyor of a depalletizer from Busse/SJI Corp. The palletis raised one layer at a time, and the top layer of bottles are swept off ontoan overhead bulk takeway conveyor.

The bottles are single-filed and enter an air rinser fromAlliance Industrial Corp., which picks them up with rubber grippers and carriesthem around a rotating drum. Air is blown into the bottles as they travel, andthen they are returned to an upright position and discharged onto a conveyor.

The bottles are conveyed in bulk to a continuous Spectrum TXlaner from Heuft USA Inc., in which fingers are synchronized with the conveyormotion and extend horizontally, pushing 10 bottles at time into four lanes onthe conveyor. The bottles continue onto four separate parallel conveyors thatbring them to a system that delivers them to the filler on the floor below.





 This system consists of two sets of 10 vertical chutes thatdrop the bottles down to the filler. The chutes are made from stainless steelrods. A robot from Fanuc Robotics America Inc. with four gripperspicks up and places the bottles into the chutes. In this operation, two of thegrippers, which operate together, pick up 10 bottles each from two of theconveyors, while the other two grippers drop 10 bottles each into the chutes.During the next cycle, the other two grippers pick up bottles from the othertwo conveyors and the bottles picked up during the previous cycle are deliveredinto the chutes. The bottles accumulate in the chutes and discharge intermittentlyas the filler operates.

The bottles discharge from the chutes onto a conveyor on thefirst floor, and a Fanuc robot picks up 20 bottles at a time and places theminto a pocket-slat conveyor that carries them through the aseptic filler. Themachine advances two slats on each cycle, with each slat carrying 10 bottles.The plant runs five bottle sizes ranging from 8- to 16-oz at speeds to 600bottles/min. The intermittent motion, linear indexing aseptic filler runs 10lanes of bottles, which it sterilizes, fills and caps. The bottles aretransported through the machine by their necks in the slat conveyor.

As the conveyor comes over the front end of the machine, twosets of jaws on each of the two slats open, and cups rise from beneath theconveyor to support the bottles. The cups lower, and the slats close around theneck finish. Sensors detect missing bottles in any lanes and inhibit fillingand closing operations for those locations.

The bottles then enter a sterilizing chamber that uses a drysterilization system containing a hydrogen peroxide mist at 225 deg F. thatpenetrates into the inside and around the outside of the bottles. This is donein two consecutive cycles. The bottles next pass beneath jets of superhotsterile air to reduce the hydrogen peroxide residual to less than 0.5parts/million.

The Hamba machine has two filling stations in series, eachdispensing about half of the required amount of product when running largerbottles. Only one filler is used for smaller containers. Filling in two stepsminimizes cycle time, which is two seconds per index at a 600 bottles/min.Product is delivered from a pressurized balance-tank through an individualmagnetic flow meter to the fill nozzle on each lane.

After filling, the bottles continue to the capping section.Caps are fed from a hopper on the platform above the machine into anunscrambler that discharges them with the top facing up onto a bulk conveyor.Fingers separate them into groups of 20 each and they pass through a hydrogenperoxide mist sterilizing chamber. The caps then travel down chutes into apick-and-place system inside the Hamba machine that picks them up with vacuumcups and places them on the bottles.

The bottles are conveyed into the torquing zone of themachine, where individual servo-driven torquing heads lower capping chucks totighten the caps. As the heads lower, cups beneath the conveyor rise and holdthe bottles stationary while the chucks turn. Sensors in the capping sectioncheck the torque on each cap and a feed-back loop adjusts it if it has strayedfrom the set point.

At the filler discharge, plungers raise the bottles. Sideconveyors transport them out of the machine on two horizontal conveyors, eachcarrying the bottles from 10 lanes. The filler computer keeps track of eachbottle while it is in the filler and after it discharges. Any unacceptablebottles are rejected as they leave the filler.

Container and machine sterilization design, FDA validationand installation assistance for the Hamba installation was provided by KanPak'sdesign authority, Dover Brook Assoc., and by Hamba's U.S. respresentative atthat time. This company, now named Aseptic Innovations, no longer representsHamba, which was purchased by Oystar USA after KanPak installed its asepticmachine. 

The bottles travel in two lanes through subsequent equipmentuntil they are combined just ahead of the tray packer. The bottles leaving thefiller pass Markem-Imaje USA inkjet printers that apply the product code, lanenumber, date and fill time to the shoulders. Next, the bottles pass a testingunit from Teledyne TapTone, that checks for over- or under-fill and for leaks.


First in/first out

After the bottles are printed, they are conveyed to twoDynac 6400 five-tier spiral accumulators from Hartness Intl. Inc. that provideup to five minutes of accumulation. With an accumulating conveyor system thatautomatically responds to production line flow changes in real time, this unitprovides first-in/first-out sequencing.

Side-by-side infeed and outfeed conveyors inside the Dynacoperate independently in opposite directions and are mechanically linked by apackage-transfer mechanism. Sensors on the conveyors monitor bottle flow andadjust the conveyor speeds accordingly.

The package-transfer mechanism, which is dubbed "thespider," moves up or down between the spiral conveyors (depending on therelative speeds of the two conveyors) and transfers bottles from an infeed toan outfeed conveyor as it moves.

When the outfeed conveyor is running slower than the infeedconveyor, the spider travels up the spiral and fills up more of the outfeedconveyor. Conversely, when the infeed conveyor is running slower, thefaster-moving outfeed conveyor begins to empty, so the spider travels down thespiral as it transfers bottles. When infeed and outfeed conveyor speeds match,the spider remains in place, transferring product from one conveyor to theother.


Shrink sleeve application

Bottles leaving the accumulator are delivered to adual-head, shrink-sleeve labeler from Sleever Intl.

A roll of labels for each head is mounted on the front ofthe machine, and the labels are pulled from the roll into the machine. The filmtravels over dancer rolls for tension and tracking control, and then over aroller at the top of the machine and down into the application section. Rollerspull the film over a mandrel that opens it into a cylinder, where it is thencut into individual sleeves.

Bottles are delivered to the each labeler head single-fileand are metered into the machine by a feedscrew that establishes the properpitch of the bottles.

A photoeye triggers two rollers that fire the sleeve downonto the bottle as it passes below. A series of small rotating vertical brushespushes the sleeve down against the label to ensure that it will shrink all theway to the bottom of the bottle.

The bottles then enter a modular-design, infrared hot-airtunnel with individually controlled heating zones and multiple nozzles that areindividually adjustable for optimum shrink results. The labeler and shrinktunnel are computer-controlled, and all of the operating settings for eachbottle, including air temperatures in the tunnel, can be adjusted by theoperator.

Sleever Intl. also supplies the shrink-sleeve labels used on thebottles. The labels, which are made out of OPS material that is specificallydesigned for the infrared hot-air technology, are rotogravure printed in ninecolors. The sleeves feature a perforated section beneath the cap for easytear-off.

Bottles leaving the shrink labeler pass a Videojet TechnologiesInc. inkjet printer that applies information to the tops of the caps. Thebottles from the two conveyors are then recombined on a single bulk conveyor.At this point, the bottles can be directed to two different systems: a HartnessGlobal Model 4510-80 shrink packer that places the bottles on six-, 12- or24-count trays or to a bundler from Adco Manufacturing Inc. that places thebottles in four- or six-count corrugated cases. 

Palletizing by four robots

Finished packages from either of these systems are directedto a common conveyor that transports them to a robotic palletizing operationfrom Hartness Intl Inc. The system incorporates four robots. The first two faceeach other and orient cases in the proper pattern for palletizing on a wideconveyor as they enter the palletizing zone. The cases then travel to a sectionwhere the cases are pushed together into a cohesive pallet layer.

The third robot then descends and inserts a flexibleplatform made of carbon fiber rods attached to flexible sides beneath thelayer, picks the layer up and moves it to the pallet takeaway conveyor. Thefourth robot in the operation is responsible for handling pallets and slipsheets, so at this point, it places a slip sheet on the layer of cases.

Layers are added to the pallet until a complete load ofcases is assembled, at which time the conveyor activates and moves the palletinto the Lantech stretch wrapping unit. The fourth robot in the operation thenplaces a pallet for the next load.


KanPak doing a 'great job'

With an increased emphasis on beverage companies' bottomlines, KanPak's new technology provides customers with products that have anincreased shelf life compared to refrigerated products. The combination of thenew technology and the savings of ambient transportation offer a bettersolution for customers and the ecosystem.

"I am extremely pleased with KanPak. They are a true partnerin my progress," says Snell. "The people are extremely knowledgeable in asepticprocessing and packaging as well as in product development, and they areextremely approachable, so any time a question arose, I could talk to theaseptic experts."


KanPak, 800/378-1265. www.kanpak.us

Adco Manufacturing Inc., 559/875-5563. www.adcomfg.com

Alliance Industrial Corp., 800/368-3556. www.allianceindustrial.com

Aseptic Innovations, 636/281-1500. www.asepticinnovation.com

Ball Corp., 800/428-7145. www.ball.com

Busse/SJI Corp., an Arrowhead Systems Inc. Co.,920/326-3131. www.arrowheadsystems.com

Dover Brook Assoc., 914/469-4809.www.doverbrook.com

Fanuc Robotics N.A., 800/477-6268.www.fanucrobotics.com

Hamba USA Inc., 636/281-1500. www.hambausa.com

Hartness Intl Inc., 800/845-879.  www.hartness.com

Heuft USA Inc., 630/968-9011. www.heuft.com

Lantech, 800/866-0322. www.lantech.com

Markem-Imaje, 770/421-7700.www.markem-imaje.com

Oystar USA, 973/227-5575. www.oystarusa.com

Sleever Intl, 905/565-0952. www.sleever.com

Teledyne TapTone, 508/563-1000. www.taptone.com

Videojet Technologies, 800/843-3610.www.videojet.com



About the Author(s)

Jack Mans

Plant Operations Editor

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