Aspects of sustainability in the development of filling and packaging systems
Sustainable aspects of ergonomics, product safety, energy efficiency and durability taken into account
KHS supplies its customers with reliable, efficient and durable filling and packaging systems. These are chiefly used to package beverages and liquid food products in a manner that is safe, attractive and gentle on the environment.
KHS consistently strives to optimize its products in the long term. To this end, we are also increasingly exploiting the opportunities provided by digitalization to further improve the ergonomics, product safety, energy efficiency and durability of our filling and packaging systems.
In the ergonomic design of its plant engineering KHS pays particular attention to ease of operation, i.e. improving the workplace, the way work is organized and the human/machine interface.
The increasing automation of operating procedures and processing sequences, such as during format and product changeovers, and intelligent operator prompting on standardized HMI or Human Machine Interface systems are instrumental in developing machines that are ergonomic and safe to operate.
In this way, numerous process steps are further simplified, shortened or streamlined, with possible operator errors and thus disruptions to operation minimized. This meets the demands of our customers for efficient system operation at all times despite the growing number of different products and packaging styles processed on a single production line.
Besides IT-assisted solutions, various constructional measures are also being constantly further developed and implemented to improve ergonomics or operator safety. This helps KHS to globally support the zero accident strategy adopted by many of its customers.
Example developments in the reporting period
InnoPET iflex automated line changeovers
Lots of beverage producers find themselves processing an ever greater range of items on their production lines. This naturally affects the overall equipment efficiency or OEE, as each associated product or format changeover causes the line to stop.
This is where KHS comes in with its new InnoPET iflex automated line changeovers, initially developed for PET filling and packaging lines with a large number of stock keeping units or SKUs.
With its fast, reliable and reproducible changeovers this system significantly boosts the OEE, in turn also improving ergonomics and operational safety.
The InnoPET iflex setup is based on the careful coordination of various machine options whose degree of automation has been specially optimized to shorten changeover times. Parallel to this, supporting software solutions ensure that changeover routines are documented and can be exactly reproduced by the operator at all times. The individual machine conversions are coordinated and synchronized by the superordinate Innoline Flex Control line management system that helps the operator to determine the time of the order changeover on the respective machine.
InnoPET iflex enables fully automated format changeovers on the high-performance KHS InnoPET Blomax Series V stretch blow molder used to manufacture [r]PET containers. The heavy molds are handled by robots and the amount of operator intervention necessary during format changeovers has been considerably reduced. This substantially reduces the machine operator’s workload and helps to increase his or her safety. All work on the new system can also be performed without the need for any tools, with the ergonomic design providing outstanding accessibility.
Furthermore, the InnoPET iflex is also available for block systems used to manufacture, label and fill [r]PET containers. Here, the operator can also convert the station for the new label on the labeling unit during a format changeover quickly, safely and efficiently with the help of several automated work steps.
The container conveyor technology has been modified to include automatic railing settings for non-returnable PET lines to ensure the safe conveyance of containers through the entire filling and packaging process. Railings can thus be reliably adjusted and their settings reproduced. The streamlined system supports ergonomic and simple handling. Format changeovers are triggered by the press of a button on the HMI. When a product type changeover is activated on the HMI, the railings automatically move to exactly the right position. In just a few steps safe format changeovers can now be carried out in very little time indeed.
Flexible and efficient filling
KHS already provides its customers with flexible expansion options for a multitude of filling systems. These enable a filler to be individually extended so that it can process additional beverage types or container sizes, for example. This platform system is now not only available for glass and can fillers but also for PET bottle fillers. In the future automatic format and product changeovers will also be possible here at the press of a button – without the need for any operator intervention, thus improving operational safety and the OEE.
High line flexibility and efficiency
Whereas in the past only one product was usually run on aseptic PET lines, bottlers of sensitive beverages now face an ever-growing demand for flexibility. Beverage producers who process both sensitive beverages and juice and carbonated soft drinks and fill these into [r]PET bottles often prefer to use 38-millimeter bottle necks for the former and containers with 28-millimeter openings for the latter. If the bottle neck is to be changed on a PET line, to date a relatively large amount of effort was required to convert the stretch blow molder in particular, meaning that the machines often clocked up well over four hours of downtime – tying up the often very few operators of the same for a long period of time.
The new quick neck change option now enables the machine to be very easily converted over to the next [r]PET container neck. As a result, two operators need up to 70% less time for the changeover (on an InnoPET Blomax with 16 stations in this example). The new KHS option gives beverage producers much greater flexibility, as they can now also run much shorter production cycles for bottles with different necks and therefore reduce their warehousing effort accordingly.
The significance of HMI systems
HMI systems continue to gain in importance as they help machine operators to handle increasingly diverse customer product portfolios safely and efficiently. This is why we are investing in the further development of HMI systems in order that customers are increasingly enable to process their individual requirements using such equipment. On the one hand, these optional further developments improve ergonomics and operational safety. On the other, they also allow production processes to be reproduced, in turn optimizing the OEE.
Construction measures for operator protection
Besides the many automated processes designed to improve operational safety, further developments in the design engineering itself continue to play an important role. Regarding manholes that provide access to the machine but possibly also open up onto hot and/or corrosive media, customers often specify their own individual requirements governing the safety of their employees that go beyond mere CE conformity. One example here is the Fortress key system that is available as an option specifically for bottle washing machines and tunnel pasteurizers. Manholes can then only be opened once an electronic sensor has made sure that they do not conceal any dangerous media.
Safe access during machine operation
On the Innokeg Transversal keg washing and filling system an intelligent line layout improves both the ergonomics and access for the machine operator. A single conveyor belt running through the middle of the opposing processing stations services the entire keg washing and filling process quickly and efficiently for all standard market container sizes and formats. Operators can freely access the system from all sides, thus making the maintenance and servicing work they are required to carry out much easier to manage. This also increases the level of operational safety.
Good ergonomics plus excellent hygiene
Despite its extremely compact design, the new SmartCan can filler by KHS/Ferrum gives operators a relatively large amount of space to work in. No tight-fitting cladding is used that is difficult to access. Each section of the filler can be easily reached for maintenance, overhauls or format changeovers. The amount of manual intervention required is therefore reduced to a minimum. These improvements to the ergonomics of the design in particular also make for an excellent standard of hygiene.
The safe and hygienic processing of a beverage is the central task of a filling and packaging system. The packaging protects the product during transportation to the retail outlet and ensures that it can be safely drunk by the consumer.
For KHS, product safety means supplying safe, high-quality machines based on technologically sophisticated systems and solutions and at the same time ensuring that the equipment is gentle on resources during operation.
To this end, the production line requires perfectly coordinated monitoring processes so that any disruptions or faults can be quickly and efficiently identified and batches tracked right from the beginning.
The tracking processes necessary for efficient line operation are increasingly being managed by digital monitoring systems. The digital systems used help to minimize product loss and further reduce media consumption in an attempt to achieve the best-possible overall equipment effectiveness while conserving resources during operation.
Example further developments in the reporting period
360° monitoring by productive systems
In the day and age of what is known as the smart factory, lines and machines must be able to communicate perfectly with the IT systems of the operating company. The productive Innoline MES (Manufacturing Execution System) is one of these pioneering control and regulation applications for large, complex high-performance lines in particular, where diverse production scenarios need to be managed without disruption. This applies to both the filling and packaging process itself and to all peripheral processes that are directly related to production. Beverage producers often already have their own IT systems in place at their plant. This means that the MES thus needs to coordinate with these intelligently and be integrated into all existing interfaces at the customer site. KHS has concentrated its further development of the MES on precisely this aspect and implemented new standard interfaces for line monitoring and line management. These ease and optimize communication between the various machines on the customer’s filling lines – in the future, this will be regardless of which IT infrastructure is already in use at the respective facility. This in turn reduces the amount of time and effort required for commissioning and produces a high quality of data.
Our process technology underwent considerable further development during the reporting period. As of now the process technology of all machines adjacent to the filler has been equipped with IO-Link sensor/actuator technology. This is connected up through external electrical peripherals for reading in data and control. This feature also enables the functions on the ClearLine HMI to be expanded in relation to the display and analysis of the peripheral equipment. To this end, a new operator dialog (faceplate) has been devised for IO-Link and select PROFINET devices.
The connected device’s relevant process values and states (shown in status messages) are visible at a glance. Depending on the operating rights, operating parameters assigned for commissioning can be set here. It is also possible to simulate analog actual values such as pressure or temperature.
Product safety in beverage production
Inspection systems are used to continuously control the safety and quality of a filled and packaged product. This starts with the provision of a perfect container for transfer to the filling process through the correct fill level and secure closure to the correct label position, batch or BBD declaration and correct positioning on the pallet for further transportation. These systems are usually incorporated into the respective machine and are increasingly being intelligently networked with HMI operating systems.
KHS Innocheck inspection systems for InnoPET blocks
The fully-integrated PET Preform Inspection (PPI) and PET Container Inspection (PCI) systems ensure reliable quality control through HMI systems. Customers thus benefit from a higher level of quality assurance for their products and require less space and effort as additional equipment is no longer required.
Innocheck rPET inspection systems for the InnoPET Blomax Series V/rPET control for preforms made of rPET
The use of recyclate as a secondary raw material for new beverage packaging is a key element in a functioning circular economy – one whose importance is constantly increasing. However, the rise in the amount of recyclate used is mirrored by fluctuations in container quality and thus higher rejection rates. The newly developed preform inspection module from KHS, that is based on the reliable, fully-integrated Innocheck inspection system, constantly records the gray value of [r]PET preforms inline. This saves resources and increases line availability.
Innopas SX tunnel pasteurizer – holistic hygiene concept
Microbiological safety is essential on filling and packaging lines, especially in the filling area. Tunnel pasteurizers are sometimes over 30 meters long, consequently making the manual cleaning of such machines a time-consuming task. Thanks to the hygienic design of the Innopas SX that has few assemblies in the pasteurizer tunnel interior and good access, this section can be easily and thoroughly cleaned. Alternatively, a newly developed interior cleaning system is also available that produces good cleaning results faster with minimal deployment of personnel. Here, a rotating high-pressure nozzle unit is passed through the machine on the conveyor belt, providing an effective way of maintaining the necessary overall level of hygiene in the machine.
The option of linking in ERP systems has considerably improved product safety in the syrup room (a large storage container where syrup or concentrate is kept to make fruit nectar, soda pop or flavored beer such as beer mix beverages or shandy). This means that production can be logged and batches tracked without any breaks in continuity. Moreover, in this way orders can be directly transferred from the ERP to the line’s automation system. This option is available for all automatic syrup rooms with a modern process control system.
Energy and resource efficiency/improved performance
Intelligent line design is prerequisite if consumption is to be optimized in the production process in order to conserve resources during operation. KHS uses new 3D software and virtual solutions for this purpose that paint a real picture of the future filling line. Efficient energy and resources management in and around the line is a key planning aspect here. The growing trend towards compact lines and machines results in greater savings in resources – especially cleaning media, water and heat and thus energy. This resource-conserving aspect also shapes the further development of machines at KHS with a view to boosting their performance while retaining or reducing the machine footprint where possible. In numerous cases, performance is improved by shortening downtimes, for example by reducing cleaning times. Increasing automation of format changeovers thanks to intelligent HMI system operator prompting also serves to boost performance while cutting down on the consumption of resources.
Example further developments in the reporting period
Smaller machine footprint
The development of compact machines with a smaller machine footprint continues. Block systems especially, that manage a number of different sequence steps simultaneously, save space and are efficient to operate.
Small-format lines and machines are suitable for SME line concepts – breweries in particular. KHS grants access to industry standards by supplying robust, high-quality systems with capacities that are tailored to these specific customers. This plant engineering is not only distinguished by its compact design but by the fact that certain systems, especially in breweries, can be flexibly aligned and expanded to cater for a whole range of different container sizes and formats.
SmartCan filler/seamer block by KHS/Ferrum
In order to service the growing market for sensitive beverages that make special hygiene requirements of the filling process, KHS has developed the new high-performance can filler block SmartCan by KHS/Ferrum for optimum product safety and the gentlest possible use of resources. The substantially smaller product room in stainless steel makes the new Ferrum seamer design much more hygienic than other standard market products. This enables significant savings in cleaning media to be made and cleaning times to be shortened. In the seaming process the block now also uses up to 20% less CO2. Moreover, shorter format changeover times increase the level of machine availability.
The use of PTFE as a sealing material in the Innofill DVD filling element reduces flavor carryover and thus makes production much more flexible. PTFE expansion joints together with a pneumatic bell actuator mean that water lubrication is no longer required and up to 360 m3 of water can be saved every year. This greatly improves hygiene in the vicinity of the open beverage cans.
The SmartCan by KHS/Ferrum has also been designed to process lightweight beverage cans with ever thinner walls and a low top load.
High-performance Innokeg Transversal keg washing and filling system (OEE)
This keg washing and filling system is compact and powerful and also modular and expandable. It washes and fills kegs precisely and safely in an area dimensioned to fit a standard overseas container. Fully automatic adjustment of all format parts to the keg diameter and height boosts the overall equipment efficiency. With its optimized cleaning cycle the system achieves an increased output of up to 700 kegs per hour.
InnoPET BloFill and TriBlock [r]PET blocks
Here, the output has been increased by a further 12% to a maximum of 2,800 containers per hour and cavity. This results in an hourly capacity of up to 90,000 0.5-liter containers for still water on the InnoPET BloFill ([r]PET container manufacture and filling) and InnoPET TriBlock ([r]PET container manufacture, labeling and filling).1
The InnoPET TriBlock Compact for water and CSD applications has a reduced machine footprint and needs less maintenance at a higher performance of up to 60,000 containers per hour.
1 The example calculation is for the processing of still water only
Innopal PLR high-performance palletizer
With its intelligent robot technology and optimized pallet infeed array that permits fast pallet changeovers, this palletizer can process up to 625 layers per hour at a low pack infeed and improves the overall equipment efficiency of modern filling plants. The low-level pack infeed enables customers to do away with elaborate platforms and elevators, reducing the amount of material needed for line construction. This palletizing system can be installed on glass, PET and canning lines. Format changeovers to different pallet sizes are fully automatic, thus enabling safe and efficient operation.
Consumables in the production process
An environmentally-friendly energy supply and conscious handling of resources in the production process are central aspects in the transition to a circular economy and in reducing our overall carbon footprint. KHS observes the multiple uses of water or media such as CO2 very closely and promotes new solutions in this field. The design of a line or machine, especially for product preparation, filling or thermal container treatment, is an essential factor when it comes to saving more water and caustic. New avenues are also being explored in our production processes that endeavor to continue to considerably reduce the amount of water used or replace this completely with alternative solutions.
Innofill PET DRV (modular platform)2
Carbonated beverages have to filled under pressure in order that the carbon dioxide bonded in the beverage is not lost and there is no excessive foaming. Carbon dioxide is normally used as the pressurization gas here. The new PET filler platform permits sustainable beverage filling with maximum energy savings and minimum carbon emissions; on the DRV filling system, for instance, CO2 consumption has been cut from 150 grams per hectoliter to practically zero. No more CO2 is needed, not even as a pressurization gas; this is replaced by sterile air. One new member in the DRV filling system series is the Innofill PET DRV-HC that has up to 10% higher outputs for [r]PET containers holding 1.5 liters or more.
2 On what is known as a platform system the filler can be optionally converted by the customer to meet new market demands regarding other beverages or [r]PET containers. This makes the machinery sustainable and future-proof.
Innopack Kisters CNP
As an alternative form of beverage can packaging, the new secondary packaging machine from KHS forms packs of cans without the need for any plastic or adhesive whatsoever. The energy-intensive shrink film can packaging process is no longer required, thus considerably cutting both energy consumption and carbon emissions.3
Innopack Kisters WSPP
The Innopack Kisters WSPP is a combined machine that provides various packaging options for beverage cans or bottles on a line. As well as processing the more usual packs such as wrap-around packs, trays, pads and film, the combined Innopack Kisters WSPP A machine can also wrap cans or bottle packs in paper. This machine is also modular, meaning that existing Innopack Kisters Wrap-aroundShrinkPackers (WSP) or Innopack Kisters Wrap-aroundPaperPackers (WPP) can be retrofitted as a WSPP A. When a customer uses the paper-packaging option, the shrink tunnel is switched off; wrapping containers in paper means that no plastic must be used.
Innopal PLR high-performance palletizer
With its short pallet changeover times, intelligent robot technology and optimized pallet infeed design, this new palletizer can process up to 625 layers per hour, thus improving the overall equipment efficiency of modern filling plants. The palletizing system can be used on PET, glass and canning lines. Maintenance and service costs are greatly reduced by the use of state-of-the-art robotics; energy is also recovered during all delays in the palletizing process.
Shrink tunnel energy consumption (calculation based on the following key figures):
Production days per year:
Production hours per day:
Tunnel designed for a 90,000-cph line in three shifts, five days a week.
This results in:
114.2 kWh x 22 hours x 230 days x 0.8 = 462,281.6 kW = up to 46.23 MWh saved per year.
Durability and machine quality/improved performance
KHS develops and manufactures machines and system solutions that are in reliable use for decades. This is facilitated by a broad range of expansion and modernization measures that keep machinery flexible and future-proof. They enable production lines to be individually customized and retrofitted to meet changes in market demand. Each life-prolonging measure saves on resources yet still ensures fast provision and recommissioning of the required system solutions despite increasing shortages in the supply of energy and materials. Active discontinuation management also helps to lengthen a machine’s service life. Switching over to new, further developed components in good time gives operators security in production and helps to bring their lines and machines up to date. The growing sensitivity to issues of sustainability on the market is also reflected in the specific customer interest being shown in conversion options that focus on alternative energy concepts and saving energy. Here, too, KHS provides a number of systems and solutions, also for older machines. Customers can individually configure these on the KHS Connect service portal, thus ensuring the long-term operation of their existing machinery.
Example further developments in the reporting period
Future-proof retrofits and expansions
With the variety pack, customers can give consumers the chance to try out a range of different products in one secondary pack. To this end, KHS provides a line configuration that, with its high degree of automation, makes it possible to produce variety packs in the high-capacity range for the very first time, processing up to 120,000 cans per hour, for instance. Each and every production site with a tray packer can be expanded to include this line configuration, making it unnecessary to invest in a completely new line for variety packs.
Ultrasound deposit avoidance
This system solution designed to reduce maintenance effort and improve the functionality of process-critical components and parts in the tunnel pasteurizer and bottle washer can be retrofitted on practically all of the named KHS machines.
Modernizations for operational reliability
Energy- and resource-saving conversions
Customers want to make economically efficient use of their filling line for as long as possible and thus save on resources throughout its entire life cycle. In many cases, regular modernization of the machines used means that a full new investment can be avoided. This procedure is gentle on resources and an important approach in the course of the debate on the protection of our climate, as modernization means that less new machinery needs to be procured, manufactured and installed. During the reporting period, in particular KHS has further developed a number of energy conversions that comply with legal directives.
Latest-generation heater boxes are now available for InnoPET Blomax Series IV stretch blow molding machines and older models. The revamped heater box saves up to 45% energy over its classic counterpart.1
The intelligent Double Gate heating concept is now also available as a conversion option for the most recent InnoPET Blomax Series V stretch blow molder. It is based on tried-and-tested near-infrared radiation or NIR heating technology that is extremely energy-efficient. It also takes up very little space and enables up to 30% in energy costs to be saved compared to single-lane stretch blow molders with the same output.
For the Innopack Kisters ST shrink tunnel KHS offers conversions for operation with electricity, a combination of electricity and gas or LPG. Here, depending on the option selected, the customer can also considerably cut emissions during machine use by having this run on green electricity or electricity generated by its own PV system, for example. Temporary solutions are also available for natural gas in the form of biogas that in ‘production’ at least is gentle on the climate. Mixing different sources of energy can also help to cut emissions.
The shrink tunnel can be operated with film made of up to 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled plastic) without the need for conversion. This is yet another area in which KHS helps to further reduce the carbon footprint at the customer’s plant and reacts to the consumer demand for environmentally-friendly packaging.
In the future KHS will strengthen its focus on conversions that conserve resources and pursue this further. KHS has more than 130 standard conversion options currently viewable online that are being constantly added to and updated.
1 Consumption of the first-generation heater box compared to the current version.
Preventive and digital support
Component discontinuation management continues to be an important factor for our customers, allowing them to produce with as few disruptions and faults on the line as possible. Machinery can be regularly modernized with the help of innovated electronic components in order to increase the overall equipment efficiency. Here, KHS enables its customers to specifically convert individual components that have been discontinued.
With the KHS Connect customer portal, KHS not only provides clients with a modern online shop function for an efficient ordering, service and procurement process but also individual information and advice specifically tailored to their machines. This encompasses service products, conversions and optimization options and the component discontinuation service described above.
Northern and Southern Europe plus the entire DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), the USA, Mexico, Brazil, East Africa, Nigeria and China can already use KHS Connect. This service will be rolled out further in 2023. Customers can track the progress of the rollout on the KHS Connect service website.
Internet of Things [IoT]
The new KHS Connect function of cloud-based live system monitoring has been available for use in Europe since the end of 2022 by machines that have the corresponding hardware and software. Monitoring performance and consumption figures across all connected lines enables potential for improvement to be identified and production to be even gentler on resources.
Furthermore, the KHS Technical Talks – digital online customer meetings format has also been introduced. At these events service topics such as conversions, retrofits and the sustainability of systems and solutions that improve production are presented and discussed with customers.
KHS’ Technical Talks are a fixed feature in its service portfolio. The company has provided its customers with full information on upcoming live webinars and the subjects these deal with on its dedicated service microsite since 2022. Registration is free of charge.