Modular conveyor design enhances efficiencies

Paul Boughton

Manufacturing facilities are constantly seeking innovative ways to reduce costs and increase production efficiencies. So when RPC Containers Ltd won a contract, the plastics manufacturer took the opportunity to enhance production processes in order to meet the increased demands, while reducing overheads at the same time.

RPC Containers Ltd manufacture extrusion blow-moulded rigid plastic containers, operating 33 production lines and producing up to 8.5 million containers per month.

Due to increased volumes, RPC Containers Ltd needed to source an efficient conveyor system that offered a seamless transition from product manufacture to label printing.

As opposed to its current process where containers are manufactured, packaged and put into storage ready for label printing, resulting in a number of handling stages.

Speaking about the decision to source an efficient transfer system, Graeme Stephenson Operations Manager at RPC Containers Ltd, said: “When required to manufacture hundreds of thousands of containers, it’s imperative to ensure production processes are as efficient as possible, not only to help increase production, but also to reduce costs. Having secured a new contract, we felt it was important to source a system that would streamline the process.”

With this in mind, RPC Containers Ltd contacted automation solutions provider PCE Automation for advice.

Speaking about the project, Julian Tarratt, Sales Manager at PCE Automation, commented: “We conducted an extensive review of RPC Containers Ltd’s existing production process. Having considered the options, we recommended the use of a belt conveyor system that allowed containers to be fed straight from manufacture into the label printer.

“The quickest route from the blow-mould machine to the label printer meant the manufactured bottles would have to travel up and over a fork-lift access gangway. Traditional welded belt conveyor systems tend to be solid and very inflexible. For this particular design, three separate flat belts would have been required, meaning the product would have to travel over two interface points, leading to potential blockages and, ultimately, machine downtime.

“We recommended the use of Bosch Rexroth’s modular VarioFlow chain conveyor system as it has the flexibility to allow bends in a single run. This ensured the fastest possible route between the blow-mould machine and the label printer, whilst maintaining maximum machinery uptime. In addition, the system has the ability to be fully contained, giving RPC Containers the added benefit of minimising any potential damage and contamination of the final product.”

Speaking about the results, Graham commented: “At RPC Containers Ltd, we are constantly striving to source innovative systems and technologies that not only allow us to meet service level agreements with our customers, but also increase our overall production efficiency. The installation of Rexroth’s VarioFlow chain conveyor system has transformed how our business operates and has allowed us reduce our handling stages, packaging costs and potential damage to the finished product.”

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