New opportunities are opening up for Knight Warner in the dairy industry world wide after the company used its hi-tech expertise to meet a new green challenge.
It began two years ago when the industry decided to reduce the weight of the plastic bottles it uses by 20 per cent.
The switch to a more eco-friendly bottle is more challenging than you might think.
To begin with, there are as many as eight different sizes of bottle in general use and dairies use different combinations.
Bottles are usually made on site by the dairy itself or a contractor and the blow moulding machines work round the clock to make enough bottles to keep the filling lines going for the 16 hours they operate.
In order to keep the bottles sterile before they are filled they are sealed in batches into plastic bags, which means they have to be “de-bagged” and correctly oriented before they are fed into filling lines.
The lines run at speeds ranging from five a minute to 250 a minute and need to be able to switch from slow to fast in just 30 seconds, while the line has to be able to re-start without a hiccup in 15 seconds, if it is stopped for any reason.
To do that, and to meet health and safety requirements, the system has to collect and process a tremendous amount of information – including the number of bottles made and rejected, the speed at which they are fed into the system and when they were fed into the system.
Knight Warner saw the opportunity offered by the change and worked closely with packaging equipment expert Nampak to develop a system, called Fleximerge, for transferring bottles from the moulding machines to the filling lines.
The timing couldn’t have been better.
“Out of the blue, we got an enquiry from Australia. Someone had been looking at our website and saw we made automatic baggers and de-baggers. They were putting in two daries, one in Melbourne and the other in Sydney, and within six weeks of quoting, we had a £1.2 million order,” says managing director Kevin Parkin.
“It shows the power of the internet and the importance of making sure your web site is up to date.”