Foodmach’s Pernod installation signals shift towards ‘line-as-a-machine’ model

Packaging automation and integration specialist Foodmach has won a contract to install what it says will be the southern hemisphere’s most advanced filling line for beverage giant Pernod Ricard Winemakers.

The line will run a huge variety of bottles, cans and closures, and a wide variety of beverage types.

Foodmach expects the line to be running at full speed by the end of 2022, at 24,000 containers per hour. Along with the GEA Vipoll All-in-One filling system, it includes palletising and depalletising equipment, tunnel pasteurising, can and bottle drying, coding, and labelling, case packing, stretch wrapping, as well as conveying, infrastructure and safety systems.

The line will be able to switch between multiple SKUs, including can filling and bottle filling, allowing, for example, the depalletiser and pasteuriser to run cans whilst the end of the bottle run is still being case packed and palletised.

The multiple SKU functionality allows quick changeovers without the need to empty the line. With recipe-driven changeovers and interlocking of machines, Foodmach ensures no possibility of mixing SKUs even when different products use the same container.

The Foodmach Line Management Execution System (LMES) ensures the line runs seamlessly, with all the data from each individual machine collated and viewed on a central module. The SKU recipe data can either be managed directly from the LMES, interfaced to an ERP system or a combination of both. Foodmach will be working with PRW to develop and deploy seamless integration into new and existing systems.

Foodmach CEO Earle Roberts said, “With the LMES we’re supplying, it’s easier to identify underperformance either on a specific machine or SKU. We can work with PRW or the equipment supplier to close those gaps quickly.

“We poll all the machines on the line multiple times per second. Dashboards crunch that data and present it visually to align operators and maintenance. They can then drill into that and look at trends.

“You can look at previous performance on the current SKU vs historical, and you can set benchmarks. It’s all about taking a large amount of data and turning it into something useful for the operators and line managers.”

While it’s not the fastest packaging line the company has installed, Roberts noted a dedicated high speed can filling line it installed capable of running at 120,000 per hour is the most complex.

“The ability to run cans and bottles through one filler is still a new application. We supplied the first GEA Vipoll All-in-One in Australia four years ago and installed our second last year,” Roberts said.

“The Pernod machine is faster, has a lot more bottle, can and closure types and a larger range of bottle sizes. It’s perhaps the most complex filling line in the southern hemisphere.”

It’s a shift towards the future for Foodmach.

“We’re launching a new product, Line-as-a-Machine. Rather than a client viewing the line as a collection of individual machines, we’re turning that into a single production cell,” he said.

“Motorcars are a collection of parts from many OEM manufacturers brought together and sold as a single machine with one point of responsibility for delivery, performance and service. We’re emulating that offer so that the customer and end-user have a single production entity i.e. the complete line, accurate and seamless information, very high reliability and a single supplier for ongoing service and support.”

In this model, Foodmach purchases the equipment directly from the manufacturer then onsells it as part of a package. In the case of Pernod’s installation, 90 per cent was newly purchased, with a bottle labeller within the line already owned by the beverage company.

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