Food and beverage

A flash of inspiration

Nampak Plastics Europe is the premier producer of blow-moulded HDPE bottles, and has recently invested in the industry’s first all-electric blow moulding machine. Situated at the company’s UK headquarters in Newport Pagnell, this system offers significantly lower running costs than traditional methods.

MECHELEC AUTOMATiON has worked with Nampak for a number of years, supplying conveying, bagging, de-bagging and line control solutions, and has been closely involved in the roll out of lightweight Infini® bottles across a number of sites. Nampak approached MECHELEC to provide the conveying, line control and bagging systems to complement the all-electric blow moulder, including downstream transport of bottles to a trimmer, then on to a bagging machine.

The main challenge of this project was effectively conveying the bottles from the moulder to the trimmer, as the flash on the base of the bottles prevented use of a standard slat conveyor. To overcome this, the MECHELEC team developed a single drive, twin conveyor system with a gap between conveyors. This allowed the flash to `float’ between the belts while maintaining drive on the bottles.

The other issue was the delicate nature of the Infini bottles, which require gentle handling to avoid damage during transportation. The use of MECHELEC’s bespoke line control software avoided these potential bottle handling issues both before and after trimming, allowing them to be safely transported – via a leak testing unit and automatic vision inspection system – to the MA200 bagging machine.

Special purpose

Smarter sampling made easy

Effective environmental hygiene management is an important aspect of quality control for many products, leading to improved quality, fewer batch rejections and lower risk of product recalls. Spot testing of surfaces using disposable swabs offers a rapid and reliable solution to monitor biological contamination in real time but, with each swab consisting of up to six parts and requiring the addition of a liquid mixing agent, these devices can be difficult to assemble. A client approached MECHELEC to provide a bespoke solution for the automatic assembly of surface test swabs, looking to take advantage of the company’s product handling experience and lateral thinking to create a straightforward and reliable solution for rapid assembly.

Starting with a careful analysis of both the individual components and swab assembly procedure, the MECHELEC team set out to develop the simplest and most efficient method for performing each step. As the accuracy of the liquid agent dispensing was particularly important to the quality of the final product, this was a key factor in determining the team’s approach.

A rotary indexing system – with a vibratory bowl and linear feeders – was chosen, allowing the accurate handling and orientation of the parts. This was combined with peristaltic pump liquid dispensing to ensure the system achieved the required throughput and repeatability. Due to the nature of the product, this assembly system is fully risk assessed and CE marked, providing a complete solution to meet the client’s needs.