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ENTRY LEVEL SMALL FORMAT BOTTLING

USING ROTARY TECHNOLOGY

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Definitions:

Small format: bottle sizes up to and including 1.5 liters

Entry Level: thruput bottling speeds from 4000-12,000 bottles/hr

Rotary Technology: rinsing, filling and capping technology fully enclosed in a synchronized, rotating process capable of variable speeds and rapidly interchangeable bottle size.

Other important things to remember:

Overall and individual component control: typically via "touch screen" and Programmable Logic Controllers(PLC/s) for parameter control, diagnostics, troubleshooting and maintenance of overall system integrity.

Fully Synchronous, Turn-Key Operation: with minimal operator intervention or management requirements

Variable bottle size, shape. labelling and packaging configuration

Minimal operator oversight and manual control

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The purpose of this page is not to provide specific design details and specifications since such information would cover another 100 pages, but to provide you with an idea of the overall project you may be considering...

There are a lot of parameters and specifications and options possible - and once you decide on some of the basics of your project requirements, we can work with you to provide exact specifications, costs and potential layout of the equipment as well as what a limited number of variations to your basic design might cost.

 

OVERALL FUNCTIONAL FLOW DIAGRAM - ENTRY LEVEL ROTARY BOTTLING SYSTEM

The figure below(CAD) illustrates the layout of most of the components in 4000 bottle per hour rotary bottling system(as shown at the top of the page) with product flow moving from left to right in the diagram.

In this particular diagram, we have laid out the selected equipment in an approximate 75 ft x 26 foot footprint. The dimensions shown are in millimeters(mm) as is the current, common practice in international applications. A wide variety of other equipment layouts are possible with a minimum number of additional bottle or finished product conveyors.

The CAD below is in high resolution so it can be copied and printed on a larger scale so as to evaluate specific dimensions and equipment relationships.

 

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Not shown in the diagram above(but included in the first diagram above)are the water purification options and such pretreatment as will be required to process the customer's choice of water type and quality for bottle rinsing and filling.

An more complete overview of those water source and potential water pretreatment and purification processes are shown HERE.

Bottle Blowmolding

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The on-site blowmolding system transforms "preforms" into perfectly blown bottles of virtually any shape or size desired...all based on the manufacturing of specific forms or dies for creating the desired bottle structure.

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From a logistical standpoint, producing large numbers of PET bottles in the bottling plant involves handling large volumes of pre-blown bottles versus much smaller volumes of equivalent preforms.

An example: 550,000 preforms can fit into a 40 foot ocean container whereas less than 25,000 blown(or filled) bottles can fit into the same volume. The freight costs for incoming materials should be obvious. Furthermore, preblown bottles sometimes arrive bent or broken and need to be culled out before or during the bottling process...and incoming shipments sometimes have other, undesired sizes or shapes accidentally included.

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As shown below, a wide variety of preforms can be either made to order or injection molded on site to provide the desired presentation you want for your final product.

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When ordering preforms, the following guidelines are useful in determining what "weight" of preform is needed for a particular bottle size. The numbers below are for PET bottles...other weights may apply for PLA(corn-based) preforms.

While PLA bottles might provide a sense of environmental "good will" we do not recommend them due to their highly fragile characteristics when filled and transported on a bumpy road stacked high in a swaying trailer or truck. We find no cost advantage for the PLA materials considering the downside of this very fragile transportation issue.

Bottle Size Preform Minimum Weight

Preform Maximum Weight

12 oz

12 gram 17 gram
500ml 17gram 24.5 gram
20 oz 20 gram 26 gram
24 oz 26 gram 30 gram
1.0 liter 30 gram 36 gram
1.5 liter 42 gram 48 gram
2.0 liter 56 gram 60 gram
5.0 liter 86 gram 110 gram

 

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To provide a distinctive image for their water product, many bottlers design a different style or shape bottle. Technicians can use computer aided design(CAD) techniques to produce imagery and manufacturing data for interesting and eye-catching designs. Laser cutters then use the CAD information to cut aluminum or stainless steel molds for the specific design and these molds are then used in the automatic or manual blowmolders to produce the final product.

 

INJECTION MOLDING SYSTEM

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Depending on volume and other factors, some larger bottling operations will produce these preforms on site, using a special "resin" which is heated and injection molded into the proper size(and weight and perhaps color) for the bottles. Such a procedure is not common in the entry level industry but becomes highly desirable once production volumes become significant and where the cost of the injection system equipment can be justified based on resin costs versus pre-injected preform costs.

Most of the large, "name brand" water bottlers employ their own on-site injection molders. When you order preforms, you can specify the weight(for bottle size) and color.

Blown Bottle Air Feed System

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As the formed bottles leave the blowmolder as shown above, they are propelled or pushed by an air stream directly into the rotary bottling system, thus ensuring a constant flow of properly spaced bottles for the rinsing, filling and capping functions.

Monoblock Rotary Rinse, Fill and Cap

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This is the heart of the bottling system - the monoblock, synchronous rotary rinser, filler and capper, all encapsulated in an air tight "coccoon" which eliminates, in most cases the need for an auxiliary clean room.

The "air feed" system is at the far left while the finished/capped product exists at the near right side of the picture.

The internal environment is what is called a "100,000 class" cleanroom, necessary to meet IBWA standards for cleanliness. Where ISO regulations are maintained, this is an ISO Class 8 environment.

If a reasonably clean building environment is available, normally one will not need an additional encapsulation of the bottling process. However, if you will be operating in a dusty environment where significant numbers of airborne particulates are present, then one may be required.

For more information on cleanrooms, their design and the necessary sanitation precautions required inside a bottling cleanroom, go HERE.

This machine is mainly used for washing, filling and sealing bottles with non-carbonated drink,such as mineral, water, pure water, and so on. It adopts a neck-holding type conveying system. It makes the shift between different size bottles more convenient, faster and easier.

Ozone, used in the preparatory sanitization process, is present in small airborne quantities inside this enclosure, ensuring a continuous sanitization process for the monoblock system itself.

The integral, touch screen display shown above allows monitoring and control of the internal processes in the three monoblock stages. It also permits diagnostics and regular system maintenance functions to be initiated and controlled so as to ensure maximum system operating efficiency and accuracy.

The automation of many electromechanical processes, such as the movement of machinery and products on an assembly line such as the monoblock bottling system, is done through the use of small computers called programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

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A motion controlling PLC such as the one shown here contains a programmable microprocessor that is programmed using a specialized computer language.

Typically, the program for the automated process is written on the computer and then is downloaded onto the programmable logic controller directly through a cable connection. The program is stored in the programmable logic controller in non-volatile memory.

This type of controller has made a significant contribution to motion-intensive bottling system automation. Earlier automated bottling systems had to use dozens if not hundreds of individual relays, timers and sequencers, which had to be replaced or rewired whenever the automated process needed to change.

In many cases, a programmable logic controller allows all of the relays and timers within a factory system to be replaced by a single controller. Changing bottle type, operating speed or any other system parameter is now accomplished with a couple of manual inputs on the touch screen system.

The Key electric elements in the monoblock system, including the PLC utilize famous and highly reliable brands such as Siemens, Mitsubishi.

PLC's are used on each of the major components in this system; from the blowmolder all the way to the packing system. In larger and faster systems, the various control panels and PLC's are synchronously networked together into a central, remote computer system where a single operator can visually see the performance of not only the individual components but be able to isolate faults or interruptions in the production process and shut down portions or all of the system with a single keystroke if needed.

12 Head Bottle Rinser

Inside the rotary assembly, incoming bottles(from the right in the above picture) are first rinsed in a 12 head rinsing system, utilizing ozonated/disinfected water to ensure that the incoming bottles are free from particulates and microbial contaminants. The rinse water amounts to approximately 20-25 percent of the water used in the filling operation.

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The rinse water which in most cases is quite clean after use, can be recycled through a multi-media filter for particulate removal and through the incoming UV and ozone system for reuse once again in the rinse stage. We don't recommend that this recycled rinse water be used for final bottling however.

12 Head Bottle Filler

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The next stage is the 12 head filler - operating at the same speed as the preceeding rinse system. Bottles are "handed" from the rotating rinser to the adjacent, rotating filler much like a runner handing a baton to the next runner in a relay race.

6 Head Bottle Capper/Cincher

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The last stage in the monoblock system is the capper and cap cincher which can accept either standard flat 28mm caps or "sports caps", both of which can be fed into the capper from an overhead, hand-filled hopper shown below.

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The filled and capped bottle can now leave the monoblock "cleanroom" environment on its way to date coding and labelling stages.

PRODUCT DATE CODING

A "use by" or expiration date is applied to a wide variety of perishible products(milk, cream, butter, etc.); the same requirement applies to bottled water which is sold in sealed packages in retail stores.

There are several reasons why water bottles come with an expiration date. The main one is government bureaucracy: water is a consumable food product, and as such, it is subject to laws requiring expiration dates on all consumables, from bologna to lemonade.

Besides that, the expiration date on bottled water has certain benefits for you, the bottler.

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Although water, in and of itself, does not go bad, the plastic bottle it is contained in does "expire," and will eventually start leaching chemicals into the water. This won't necessarily render the water toxic, but it might make it taste somewhat less than "mountain spring fresh."

If consumers contact drink companies to complain that water they bought several years earlier tastes bad, the bottlers can point out that it's their own fault for not drinking it by the expiration date.

Finally, expiration dates are usually only one element of a printed code that also identifies the date, bottling plant, and other information. Even though the expiration date itself is meaningless in terms of water going bad, the manufacturing information could be useful in tracking down contamination, bottling errors or product recalls.

Bottle Labelling

Next to bottle shape and size, labelling your product is probably one of the most important decisions you will make in your bottling business. Image is important, especially in a market where literally hundreds of different water bottles appear on store shelves. You want to be noticed but not garish...informative but not to the point where it takes a magnifying glass and 10 minutes to read the entire label.

As shown in the first diagram at the top of this page, there are two options for bottle labelling: pressure sensitive/adhesive designs and shrink sleeve designs.

The labels below are samples of the types of pressure-sensitive labelling possible; remembering that the bottle must have a smooth surface around the circumference of the area you want to apply the label.

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A particular advantage of pressure sensitive labels is that they can be produced in-house, and in very short order for short bottling runs such as local events, golf tournaments, weddings, etc.

For example, several thousand specialty labels can be printed overnight with equipment such as the QLS label maker machine shown below and Photoshop software on either a PC or Macintosh computer.

Pictures of a bride and groom at a wedding, a children's picture at a special birthday party, a corporate promotion a golf or other sports outing in the area...the possibilities are endless.

Remember that this type of short run, niche market is "under the radar" for the big bottlers, and you can easily price the product(s) at several times the going price for generic labelled bottles from the grocery store.

The pictures below are just ideas for such a niche business activity that should be considered in your startup bottling business plan. The possibilities, and profits are endless.......

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HEAT SHRINK LABELLER

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The equipment above is a complete shrink label system being installed in Caribbean Island location. It is capable of labelling from 100 to 200 bottles per minute, if needed.

It is therefore compatible with faster variations of the preceeding equipment, namely systems ranging from 4000 to 12000 bottles per hour for the monoblock bottling unit and the blowmolder.

The label applicator is at the left with heat shrink labels that drop over the bottles passing through the unit; and the heat tunnel, which shrinks the label to the exact contour of the bottle is at the right.

This equipment provides the state of the art capability in bottle decoration, especially when in-house blowmolding is conducted to produce variations of bottle designs other than those normally seen on retail grocery store shelves. In fact, in quantity, label costs for this process are typically far less than pressure sensitive/adhesive labels.

The bottles below have heat shrink labels, adhering to the contour of the bottle and providing a more pleasing look than the standard adhesive design.

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The heat shrink labels can be applied in a variety of locations as shown below, depending on the type and shape of the container.

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HIGH-END BOTTLING POSSIBILITIES

Specialty beverages can command a premium price, provided they are packaged in bottles which reflect the quality(and uniqueness) of the product but also grab the attention of the buyer.

We have used the glass bottles below on a premium glacier water and depending on the market area, can obtain a retail price of from $7.00 to $55.00 per bottle. As illustrated, it is initially "frosted" and then decorated using one of a variety of image transfer techniques.

We are not suggesting that you start with such a packaging and merchandising concept, but to be aware that such methods(and bottling equipment) can be obtained to package unique, niche market products, whether water or other beverages.

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Bottle/Case Shrink Wrap System

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The last step in the bottling process is to wrap the finished product into marketable packages which may consist of 4,6,12 or 24 bottles tightly wrapped in clear plastic.

Again, touch screen controls will provide you with equipment performance and an ability to preset the packaging arrangment(number of bottles per case, etc.).

The incoming bottles usually are drawn from what is called an "accumulation table", gcjnmwhere bottles "accumulate" once they have been properly labelled. The accumulation table acts as a "buffer" between the bottling/labelling functions and the packaging system to allow for shrinkwrap changes or other maintenance functions.

The bottles leave the accumulation table on a powered conveyor and enter the shrink wrap system where, depending on your command to the system, the unit will arrange the bottles in a 2x2, 2x3, 3x4 or 4x6 rectangular configuration.

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The bottles are then wrapped with the shrink material. The equipment will shrink the package onto a tray or with or without a flat cardboard support.

The wrapped package then enters the heat tunnel where a digital control system and conveyor allow the plastic material to shrink to the contour of the bottles.

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BOTTLING ACCESSORIES

Finished Bottle Pallet Stretch-Wrapper

Whether you are using boxes or simply placing shrinkwrapped cases or boxes of bottles onto wooden pallets, it is important to shrinkwrap the cases or boxes securely so that when they are transported the load will not shift and you would be left with a lot of broken bottles and packing equipment. Wooden pallets come in different sizes; check in your area/country for standard stacking patterns.

Once they are properly and tightly stacked, one trained individual can walk around the pallet holding shrink material and wrap the pallet; or reasonably priced, automated shrink wrapping equipment can be purchased to do the job.dfgxc

Frontloading Forklift

A three(3) ton forklift will be required to move full pallets of water. A pallet with 60 cases of water, packaged in half liter(500ml) bottles will weigh close to 1600lb(plus pallet).

If you have a closed building with little ventilation, the forklift should be battery operated versus diesel to eliminate hazardous fumes from inhalation as well as out of cleanroom environments.

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Ready for the market....

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Laboratory Test Equipment

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Regardless of where your bottling operation is located, it is imperative to maintain a close watch on water quality, perhaps on a daily basis since many states and government organizations will require that.

Check with your state or government agency responsible for water and beverage bottling and they can provide you with a list of regular tests and records that you must keep to comply with local, state or federal regulations.

Test equipment to determine how various portions of preconditioning equipment are performing is essential in preserving final quality of the packaged product. Once you select a type of water product, we can advise you on the set of test equipment necessary to meet that need.

WHAT TO DO NEXT?

The next step is yours - we have illustrated the various components and some of their performance characteristics in the preceeding page...you need to determine, based on your business model, business plan or projected distribution estimates the following:

(1) What type of water you will be bottling;

(2) If you will be designing and blowmolding your own bottles or using standard, pre-formed bottles;

(3)The physical size and shape(if you are designing your own bottles);

(4) The operating speed of the system(in bottles per hour)... for the number of operating hours per day in order to meet your distribution needs not only at the onset but into the future perhaps 18 months to 2 years from now.

(5) How you plan to label and package the final product.

SPECIAL NOTICE: THE EQUIPMENT ABOVE REPRESENTS "ENTRY LEVEL" BOTTLING ACTIVITY - PERHAPS 4000 TO 12000 BOTTLES PER HOUR THRUPUT. IF YOUR NEEDS ARE HIGHER THAN THIS, SEE OUR MEDIUM SPEED SYSTEMS HERE.

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ONCE YOU HAVE MOST OR ALL OF THIS DATA TOGETHER, CONTACT US WITH THE INFORMATION AND WE CAN ASSIST IN GIVING YOU A CONFIGURATION AND COST ESTIMATE.

Remember, there are a lot of variations of these bottling equipments; the more accurate you can be in your determination of your needs, the quicker and more accurately we can provide you with cost, technical and schedule information.

We have hundreds of website visitors every day and we prioritize our responses for information - those with the most complete description of their requirements get first priority...so, to get to the front of the line, be specific and as complete as possible.

EMAIL: purewater@earthlink.net or 1-805-773-4502(domestic or international - California time zone) - Gene Shaparenko, owner.