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Aleksander Broda

From Glass International- November 2020.             What would our bottles/jars/vials tell us about the way they are handled on each stage of their lifecycle?  How can we use the ‘bottle experience’ information in optimising handling, increasing filling line efficiencies, monitoring transport, reacting to breakage problems, redesigning or lightweighting our bottles, establishing correct criteria and specifications in agreements between the glass manufacturers and the fillers?

‘Shock loggers’ are known in the industry and have been implemented in a variety of filling facilities.  Sensors by Masitek Instruments are inserted into acrylic replicas of the chosen bottles (jars/vials) and register actual impacts (IPS) experienced by the glass containers, throughout the filling line and other handling areas, transport, trade, etc. Other parameters, such as vertical loads and scuffing resulting from squeeze pressure forces and bottle movements, can also be measured.
However, time has come to use such systems regularly in order to diligently prevent issues from happening, communicate remotely regarding the performance of bottles, and base this communication on data. In fact, measurement results can be shared between the glass suppliers and their customers and used by the:

  • Glass supplier – to remotely monitor real line/handling influence on their containers, to proactively manage technical services, and to engineer optimised bottles;
  • Filler - for regular process control, efficiency increase (increase line speeds), elevating line operator skills, cost reductions and sustainability aspects;
  • Both – to solve issues, to agree on realistic specifications, implement proper enhancements to the process – e.g. new designs, lightweighting, machines.


Data as basis for specifications

In industrial advancements, further lightweighting trends, Industry 4.0, environment - data replaces assumptions, estimates and general conditions – as these typically are adjusted to the weakest areas of each process. Imagine a well set, high speed filling line, where measured impacts do not exceed 25 IPS. This introduces the opportunity to work together on a new, lighter bottle design, while the commonly used 35 IPS impact specification can be lowered without risk. As a matter of fact, instead of implementing one impact level specification for all used bottle formats (like the aforementioned 35 IPS), all involved parties would benefit from individually tailored criteria for each bottle type, depending on their sizes, shapes, weight, in relation to the fillingline/trade conditions.

Agreeing on such bottle-specific approaches is a step forward and certainly not a complicated process. The key is accurate measurements of real impacts in handling. After the impact rating is chosen, the glass manufacturers would make sure their bottles resist the given load levels. The fillers, on the other hand, optimise their lines and through regular measurements, ensure they do not expose the bottles to impacts exceeding the agreed maximum.


 

Communication

Data from real bottle experience, e.g. impacts measured in IPS, are therefore the best ‘language’ for communication between brand owners filling into glass containers, and their suppliers of bottles/jars/vials – both in reactive troubleshooting and in proactive optimisations. While the direct IPS calculation, visible in real-time, provides the user with important data pinpointing areas of issue on the line, the new ‘Shock-loggers’ offer further advancements in reliable technology unlike anything the industry has seen in previous iterations. For example, new features implemented recently by Masitek, allow for even better communication and common understanding of bottle performance. One of them is the ability to use the camera to record a video of the sensor-bottle moving through the line. At playback, the impact events are being shown along the video progress. This way, one can exactly see at which point, in which situation did a high load occur – and share the video/result with ones responsible for improving the handling. The data generated by these devices is of interest at many levels of organisations - marketing is interested for feedback on glass designs, management needs to make sure that quotas are achieved and overall processes are improved, and the engineering group wants to have their projects run smoothly with data driven decisions.

With Masitek’s systems the measurement data is automatically uploaded to the individual user account in the cloud. Thus, results, graphs, videos and notes can be accessed from any computer, just by entering the right password. Reports summarise how many impact events have been registered and which exceed our specified control or acceptance limits. All data can be presented in a visualised report and exported graphically or into an Excel sheet. Especially nowadays,
in the times of travel restrictions, such real-life data of what the bottles ‘felt’ can improve communication, thus shorten getting to the root-cause of issues and
solving them. It is also frequently the case that bottles get damaged in transport. Therefore, the systems can be used in a transportation mode, placed in cases and/or pallets and logging shock, vertical load, squeeze events for many days. Data is later retrieved and analyzed. Imagine placing the sensor in a truck with bottles – it will return to us with numerical information, adding so much more to what was earlier a go/no-go experience.

Share the benefits

The Masitek system can be acquired by either the filler or the glass supplier. Or even jointly, based on a mutual agreement, which can include specifics of sharing the data from future measurements. The model of the system and the individual container replicas would be based on the range of bottle/jars/vials and reflect specific needs/priorities. Key are the benefits that glass suppliers and their customers can share when using the ‘bottle experience’ data:

  • Learn, set and keep the real maximum filling line speeds and equipment performance to ensure efficiency without the risk of breakages
  •  Guide fill line operators to optimal settings, validate after job changes + establish best practices. Data can be used to evaluate and grow staff performance.
  • Assure and provide evidence that regular line checks show proper line handling.
  • Use the real-life criteria when working on designing new bottles, Finite Element Analyses, redesigning and especially when lightweighting.
  • Evaluate scuff levels to plan the life of returnable bottles.
  • Identify potential issues with too high loads (breakage, damage of glass or label/sleeve, equipment wear), pinpoint exact areas of problem, solve and recheck after modifications.
  • Use videos, pictures and notes correlated with data, to efficiently present/ communicate, without need of meetings, specialist travel, etc.
  • Check loads applied by new equipment on the bottling line to choose the best machines and best settings.
  • Use measurements to evaluate protection of bottles by secondary packaging like cases, cartons, crates, etc. in transport,handling, trade.

Our glass bottles, jars, vials, carry messages from the heat of production, through the cold end, transportation, to filling, distribution and trade.

The key message is how the container performs in delivering the product (beverage, food, cosmetics, pharma) to the end consumers. Reading these messages and reacting to them assures the market receives only good news.

For more information on the sensors and how they can benefit your organization, contact Mr. Broda directly at Aleksander.Broda@masitek.com.