Sidel improves performance of Pearlwater end-of-line equipment

Partnership that exceeds expectations

Pearlwater was determined to enhance the efficiency of its production line as well as bottle quality by upgrading its PalKombi Gripping palletizer’s performance, installed by Sidel. Photo - Sidel

Producing a great diversity of bottles from 0.5 L to 1.5 L on a single packaging line for PET, Pearlwater Mineralquellen (Pearlwater) was determined to enhance the efficiency of its production line and bottle quality by upgrading its PalKombi Gripping palletizer’s performance, installed by Sidel in 2011. Trusting in its OEM, Pearlwater was able to increase the palletizer’s reliability and flexibility for the handling of various pack sizes and improved overall line efficiency by 5% with the better pack and pallet stability.

Founded in 1993, the Swiss enterprise Pearlwater is a specialist in the beverage industry with comprehensive and always up-to-date knowledge of producing bottled water, flavored water, and soft drinks. The water, which is the very heart of its beverage’s portfolio, comes from five unique mineral springs in the Valais Alps (also known as the Pennine Alps). The Pearlwater product range goes from discount to premium brands, focusing on product quality and sustainable production. Its well-known bottled waters brands include “Swiss Alpina”, “Aquina,” and “Prix Garantie” – flavored water for the sustainable private label “Coop Naturaplan” as well as soft drinks sold under the “Aquina” and “Prix Garantie” brands.

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Since 2011, the company belongs to Coop Switzerland (Coop), an international group with various sales formats, including wholesale and manufacturing companies. Pearlwater bottles around 100 million liters of beverages per year and is one of the top 4 players in Switzerland’s water and soft drinks market.

Palletizer retrofit for a superior performance and product quality

Sidel said the overall performance of the packaging line and top efficiency and product quality could be reached with the right combination of every piece of equipment of the line. To sustain the efficiency of already running lines and the state-of-the-art operation of the equipment over time, it is essential to maintain and optimize the machine’s performance. Therefore, Pearlwater reached out to its OEM and was mainly looking at increasing performance for the end-of-line equipment.

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After analyzing the line’s performance, Sidel’s engineers identified that the main performance loss was coming from handling small bottle packs at the palletization stage. Upgrading small bottle packs conveying and rotation would enable to reach improved product quality and palletizer uptime. Therefore, Sidel proposed to enhance bottle positioning on the palletizer with a new pack conveying and rotation system “Electronic Spacer.”

“The upgrade for Pearlwater’s PalKombi Gripping palletizer focuses on a new packs inlet module made of modular chain conveyors across which the packs are smoothly transferred and rotated forming rows before being pushed on the pallet,” explains Danny Bollnow, service sales manager at Sidel.

Sidel said this new system increases palletizer performance towards maximized uptime, packs, and pallet quality and reduced changeover time for new format handling. The system reduces impacts and scrappages between packs when spaced to generate correct rows with fewer falls and damages, minimizing downtimes for manual intervention to reposition the packs correctly and provide better product quality. With electronic spacing principles, smaller packs are smoothly positioned to form correct rows, ensuring pallet accuracy for more reliable production.

A partnership that exceeds expectations

Smooth project management and close and efficient collaboration between Pearlwater and Sidel exceeded Pearlwater’s expectations in many ways. Firstly, the palletizer was running and ready to re-start production after only three days of installation instead of one week originally planned. Secondly, by installing the new pack conveying and rotation system, Sidel optimized maintenance costs, which decreased by 30%, and time that was not an initial requirement by the producer.

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“We are very satisfied with the project execution, follow-up, and the great collaboration we had with the Sidel team,” expresses Pascal Collaud, head of Production & Logistics at Pearlwater. Thanks to the palletizer’s upgrade, not only reliability and flexibility for the handling of various packs sizes have been increased, but also the company can now produce very small packs as 250 ml bottle format in 3×2 packs, it said.

Additionally, right after the retrofit, Sidel’s team conducted training for Pearlwater’s operators on the palletizer’s new functions, allowing employees to be quickly and fully operational on the equipment.

After eight years of collaboration between Sidel and Pearlwater, with the PalKombi Gripping palletizer’s upgrade, Sidel once again proved its leadership and knowledge to the Swiss brand expanding opportunities of cooperation for continuous improvement of its production process.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

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