Excel Automation, the UK’s leading supplier of automated materials handling systems, has completed the third phase of a major upgrade of Chivas Brothers’ Palletisation and Automatic Despatch (PAD) facility in Dumbarton designed to achieve an estimated 50% increase in output. All four phases of this major refurbishment contract were won by Excel Automation.
With the fourth phase of the PAD facility due for completion in May 2009, Excel has also been awarded an order for another major upgrade at the Kilmalid site. Worth £500,000, it covers the refurbishment of two cranes in a Bulk Glass Area, which holds empty bottles for brands such as Ballantine’s, Beefeater Gin and Malibu.
For Phase 3, Excel provided overall project management to ensure that existing plant would maintain production while new equipment was installed.
The project included eight new production line conveying systems to transport different-sized cartons containing a variety of bottle sizes from the bottling plant into a new palletising plant where they are automatically sorted into pallet profiles. Because the conveyors and the eight high-speed high-level palletisers operate at significantly higher speeds, pallet stability was important. Therefore, before cases enter the new palletisers, a LOCK n’ POP system sprays the carton tops with a cold glue to hold layers together as a stable block before delivery to the wrapping area.
Over 1,000m of Excelveyor 500 belt driven carton conveyor were installed. Every 600mm section up to the palletising area features a soft-start system to prevent bottles breaking and liquid spillage. Conveyors are programmed to achieve the fastest cycle possible with the softest contact.
From the bottling plant, cases feed into an accumulation tunnel that allows pallet loads to be built up and then transported to the PAD building, where incline conveyors carry them to high level in-feeds for the palletisers.
When cases enter the palletisers a layer is formed and placed onto Chivas’ own pallets, which are fed by one of two Excel pallet conveyors into two de-stacking machines that distribute individual pallets to four of the eight palletisers. The second pallet conveyor transports loaded pallets from the palletisers to wrapping machines.
Chivas Brothers Project Manager Stephen Trainor says a significant advantage of Excel’s proposal was its dual-line design, which fitted into the existing building and could be built whilst the previous system continued operating. He adds that Excel’s new system was also meeting Chivas’ production needs one month ahead of schedule.