The Cannex canmaking technology show held in the US at the end of April offered so much that there wasn’t enough space last month to cover all the news. John Nutting reviews more of the highlights
Back to the future for D&I bottle making
There’s been a change in strategy at Mall//Herlan in its approach to providing aluminium bottle-making technology, said director of business development Ezio Foresti at Cannex.
While the Swiss-based equipment manufacturer had showcased impressive high-capacity rotary-necking systems in the past two years, no doubt anticipating the kind of investments in D&I bottle lines made by Anheuser-Busch InBev in the US, these are not thought best for the market as a whole.
“We have a change in approach to necking systems,” said Foresti. “The rotary necker with a capacity for 600 cans per minute was too much for the market.”
Mall//Herlan is going back to the original indexing systems that offer more flexibility so that customers can scale up, he said.
This uses the same model as used by Rexam in Europe for making its Fusion bottles with a separate D&I front end on which preforms are made and then fed to off line indexing neckers and finishers. “These can be added to as demand rises,” said Foresti.
Robotic end liner attracts attention
Although it wasn’t specifically targeted at end manufacturers that offer wide ranges of irregularly shaped products, the Spider Head Liner showcased by Spain’s Matriruiz at Cannex offers a welcome level of flexibility for set up changes.
Using servo-driven technology commonly found on pick-and-place systems, the robotic machine features a low-friction multi-axis mechanism to support the lining compound gun to provide a “totally clean application” that reduces compound consumption.
The machine can be installed in any end-making line, replacing any conventional liner, and includes an automatic cleaning system and optional vision inspection.
Sales manager Antonio García explained that the Spider Head Liner is easily programmable for various configurations.
Handling systems that use no energy
Sustainability in manufacturing is often simply the reduction of energy consumption. At Canline, the Dutch-based conveying system specialist that is part of the Xano-owned group, this was demonstrated with a gap-control mechanism that is necessary for end feeding.
Rather than employ pneumatics or electrically powered processes, the devise on show uses a permanent magnet that induces the ends to separate. It therefore consumes no power, thereby supporting sustainability objectives.
Canline is part of the same group that owns Sweden’s NPB, which specialises in end handling systems such as baggers, wrappers, palletisers and balancers.
Both companies were involved in providing equipment for Ardagh’s two new D&I steel food can plants in the US during 2014. Talk is that the plants will be adding smaller two-piece steel cans, of the size used by Campbell’s, to their portfolio.
Greenbank benefits from new ‘game changing’ projects
It’s been a busy year for the UK’s Greenbank Technology with record levels of orders for beverage can washers, pin ovens and internal bake ovens, said sales and marketing manager Tom Zimmerman at Cannex.
The recent new orders are for new beverage can plants in Europe and South America.
Along with the orders for washers there are orders for four dry-off ovens, seven pin ovens and eight internal bake ovens. “They are for four beverage can lines in total,” said Zimmerman. “It’s unprecedented, and a game changer for Greenbank as the premier oven supplier to the industry and now a leading supplier of washers.”
Greenbank is also supplying washers and ovens for Crown’s new beverage can plant in Monterrey, Mexico, and ovens for the two-line beverage can plant being built at Nichols, New York, the first new plant to be constructed on a greenfield site in the US for more than 20 years. These ovens will be manufactured, assembled and shipped from one of Greenbank’s sister company operations in the US.
Productivity upgrade for Langhans’ slitter
Swiss slitter and sheet shearing specialist Langhans Innotec has been making productivity improvements to its machines.
“I’ve made a number of changes to the Mawag Prexite slitter that have increased its speed by up to 50 percent,” said manager René Langhans at Cannex. “The first Speed-Up-Set has been installed at L Sauter AG in Switzerland, which is part of the Grupo ASA.”
While the slitter design enabled an output of 28 to 32 sheets per minute, the changes have increased this to around 42 per minute.
Langhans continues to provide service support for the Mawag-based slitters, of which about 600 are at use in the canmaking world, he said.
Self-heating cans make their Cannex debut
Self-heating can technology appeared for the first time in many years at a Cannex show in the form of HeatGenie. The Texas-based firm has been developing a heating element that is much smaller than previous techniques that are based on slaked lime.
Using a mixture of aluminium and silica powders, the element in the base of the can produces a large amount of energy, enough to heat up a 12oz drink in two minutes, said HeatGenie’s president Mark Turner, who provided examples at the show.
Like many such innovations, HeatGenie has been under development for a few years, with Crown providing the container technology.
“We’re working with a customer for a possible launch early next year,” said Turner.
Another development from the company is a resealable beverage end design called SipnShut. With patents pending, this all-aluminium design uses a rotating ‘trap door’ to open a segment of the end and uses seals to make it reversibly recloseable. HeatGenie says the low profile of the SipnShut design enables close stacking of ends in filling operations and is material efficient for high volume production.
US launch for laser welding techniques
More details of how the laser-welding techniques launched for tinplate aerosol can assembly earlier this year were revealed by Caprosol at Cannex.
Harry Brühlmeier, chief executive of the Swiss-based firm, says he has been encouraged by the interest coming from the industry for the process.
This uses a conventionally-welded body into which a drawn cone and dome is slipped before being welded with lasers from the outside in modules called Cubes that run at up to 90 cpm. The nature of the weld means there is no heated zone on the inside of the can.
In addition to offering the look of a two-piece can with the use of shrink labels, metal savings of up to 30 percent are claimed, because double seams aren’t used. Internal liquid lacquers or powder coatings are applicable says Caprosol.
Schuler extends its UCC collaboration
As part of the collaboration between Schuler and Universal Can Corp (UCC), the German-based press specialist has developed a multi-stage necking machine for its Japanese partner, said sources at Cannex.
Novel feature of the 50-pocket indexing machine is that it is said to have a variable stroke, enabling a wider range of bottle heights to be accommodated. The first machine was due to be shipped to Japan in June along with a toolset for use on one of UCC production lines.
Schuler has been re-engineering bodymakers and neckers from UCC which along with its cupping presses will be part of line integration services, the first of which is the building of a canmaking line at a Zam Zam beverage plant in Iran.
Muralitharan’s beverage can plant starts up
Production at Sri Lanka’s first two-piece beverage can plant has already begun, it was confirmed at Cannex.
First news that the $63 million plant would be part funded by legendary Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan broke in April 2015, which means that the installation of the single D&I production line must have proceeded exceptionally quickly.
Muralitharan’s family has a well-established biscuit-making business called Luckyland, based in Kandy.
The canmaking plant, whose general manager of Peter Riggs, uses a line installed by Stolle Machinery with an estimated capacity of 600 million cans a year.
Food cans ‘over-engineered’ in the US
Savings in the cost and weight of metal cans for food in the US could be made with investment in the latest three-piece welded can technology, said Urs Keller and Rolf Geide in their joint Soudronic-Cantec presentation at The Canmaker Technical Conference, held during Cannex.
Their goal is to make packaging lighter while maintaining strength, but there is resistance in the US because fillers are reluctant to change their logistics and storage systems. The result is that the food can, both two-piece and three-piece, is over-engineered.
Three-piece welded food cans would also use less material because there is less process scrap says Soudronic, but to achieve start-of-the-art productivity investment is necessary. Cans are also over-engineered because canmaking equipment is old fashioned, cans tend to serve multiple customers and there is not enough batch volume.
The latest three-piece canmaking lines from Soudronic are able to produce 450 million half-kilo cans a year. To achieve this, welding machines run at 140 metres per minute, producing double-height cans at 600 a minute, which are parted before beading and seaming.
Heinz in the UK has installed such a system, while Can-Pack has been working on a downgauging project with Soudronic to further cut the weight of its food cans.