Neverfail Springwater, the Australian bottled water company, has reduced costs and increased productivity after installing equipment from CapSnap Water Group, part of USA-based Portola Packaging to maintain its supplies.
CapSnap's PortaPlant systems and new RoboLoader installed at Neverfail have helped the bottled water company to meet its productivity requirements while maximizing efficiency, reducing operating costs and improving labour utilisation.
At several of its plants, Neverfail operates CapSnap's PortaPlant 900, which provides bottle washing, sanitizing, filling and capping for 3- to 6-gallon (11 to 22 litre) bottles at speeds up to 900 bottles per hour. When it came time to install a new system at its plant near Sydney, Neverfail chose the 2100-bottle-per-hour PortaPlant 2100 to meet its peak summer demand of 12,000 bottles a day.
"The installed base for PortaPlant is big worldwide," noted Darrell Hobby, production manager at Neverfail's Thornleigh plant near Sydney. "We liked the design and engineering, the toughness of the equipment and the fact that it is well developed from previous generations. Portola incorporates new things into each model, and they make sure it's user friendly."
On the company's systems, all components are combined in a single system designed to occupy minimal floorspace and efficiently use water and electricity. The IBWA-approved systems feature heavy-duty stainless steel construction that reduces maintenance and assures increased operating life. PortaPlants are so far the only bottle washers certified and listed for microbiological elimination effectiveness by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).
"When we installed the PortaPlant 2100 at Thornleigh, we went from 700 bottles to 2100 bottles an hour almost overnight," said Hobby. Neverfail then wanted a rackloader that could match the speed of their PortaPlant 2100, and the equipment was the best match. Neverfail purchased the first RoboLoader, developed by CapSnap in agreement with ABB Flexible Automation.
The fully automatic RoboLoader unloads five empty bottles from the rack while simultaneously loading five full bottles. The flexible system handles different size bottles and can be configured to load and unload from steel racks, plastic racks, crates or pallets at speeds of up to 2400 bottles per hour.
With one half the footprint of Neverfail's previous rack loader, the equipment eased the company's floorspace problems.
Maintenance has been minimised too. Hobby says they have cut their maintenance time by 75 per cent. Changeover has also improved. "With the old mechanical system, changeover was labour intensive and took us about half an hour per product change. Now, with the RoboLoader, we just flip a switch to move from 4- to 5-gallon bottles," he explained.
"Our cost-per-bottle is down primarily because of automation," explained Bruce Taylor, National Plant operations manager at Neverfail. The company has taken its cost per bottle of product from $1.28 to an average of $0.98 per bottle nationally, even with the cost of buying spring water.
Hobby added: "We get a lot of advantages from CapSnap's PortaPlant 2100 and RoboLoader, but the cost savings are what drives our push for new technologies. We'll be upgrading all our plants to the RoboLoader over the next four to five years, and the PortaPlant 2100 is already destined for three other plants."