SIPA has recently sold two of the most efficient and fast palletizers in the market for production lines at one of its famous neighbours, San Benedetto. Acqua Minerale San Benedetto, to give it its full name, is one of Italy’s most famous suppliers of bottled mineral water and soft drinks, and was the first Italian company to supply water in PET bottles, some 30 years ago. It is headquartered in Scorzè, not far from Venice.
The two palletizing units are very similar, apart from some minor differences in the accessories. One works on a line handling PET bottles, while the other works with glass bottles. They use the top-feed principle, which means that the bottles come in at around head height, and the height of the pallet falls as each layer is added (moving pallet solution).
Each layer of bottles is created by a SIPA Fastlayer 2.2R unit, in which the bottles arrive in two lines and are placed in position by two robotic arms. Each robot is equipped with a double gripper with three independent rotation systems that allow the placement of two groups of packages at the same time.
By having grippers that can handle two sets of packs simultaneously, the machines can reach high production speeds. This contrasts with other systems on the market that need to use a series of at least three or possibly four modules to achieve the same speed. Needless to say, they take up a lot more space.
Minimal manual intervention
The grippers are also equipped with electric adjustment of the aperture, which means that no manual intervention is required in the Fastlayer 2.2R area when there is a change in format of the product to be palletized. This is important, because at San Benedetto, formats change quite frequently. Due to the high speed with which the layers are filled, the palletizers are equipped with systems capable of changing pallets "on the fly." As a result, pallet change takes just a few seconds.
Each machine is equipped with high speed system for inserting interleaves between each layer of bottles. This system provides mobile centering of the interleaf as it is being picked up, and automatic changeover of the pallets holding the interleaves, with discharge of the empty pallet and a buffer system that enables the machine to continue running during pallet changeover.
The machines are equipped to work with half-pallets (600 x 800 mm), Europallets (1200 x 800 mm), pallets sized 1300 x 1000 mm, and 48 x 40 inch pallets for the American market.
Palletizer on PET line
This is one of the most important production lines in Scorzè, handing drinks in PET bottles, including external brands such as Schweppes and Pepsi. The palletizer is equipped to handle 750-ml and 1-L PET bottles in 2x2, 3x2 and 4x3 shrink-packs, at rates of up to 56,000 bottles/h. In other words, high speed handling of quite unstable packs holding sensitive carbonated products.
San Benedetto wanted to increase considerably the output of the line, and the palletizing section was one of the critical points in the upgrade. Reaching high speed was a key objective, but the customer also demanded extreme reliability and a high accuracy in the assembly of the pallet.
Palletizer on glass line
This is probably the fastest glass bottling line in Scorzè. It bottles carbonated and still water in non-returnable bottles packed in wrap-around cartons , and returnable bottles in plastic crates. Bottles 750 ml and 1 liter in size are handled at a rate of 44,000 bottles/h, while 250-and 500-ml bottles fly through at up to 48,000 bottles/h.
On this line, the palletizer is required to handle different products with the same components, in particular plastic crates and cartons. The various formats it has to work with requires rapid set-up changes without manual intervention by the operator.
A lot of bottles
Apart from the plant in Scorzè, San Benedetto has three more plants in Italy producing and filling some 17 million bottles every day. The company has four more plants elsewhere in Europe and is involved in two partnerships in Central America. San Benedetto produces various soft drinks under its own name, and is a licensee of the Schweppes brand.
San Benedetto puts a strong emphasis on energy saving and environmental issues.
Over the years, it has made significant investments in research directed at the development of lighter bottles, the use of regenerated PET, and reduction of CO2 emissions. In 2009, San Benedetto became the first company in the Italian food and beverages sector to implement a voluntary carbon footprint monitoring process. Earlier this year, it became involved in a government-sponsored project, “New Life for PET,” which includes the installation of compactors at selected stores in the Veneto region, where consumers can return used PET bottles. The collected PET is recycled for use in San Benedetto bottles again.