Marcianise is one of five plants that Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC) operates in Italy. The plant produces several soft drinks—such as Coca-Cola, Fanta, and Sprite—in both cans and bottles (PET and glass).
Marcianise operates on a schedule of thirty-two shifts over seven days. The canning line packages cans in shrink-wrapped bundles and cardboard boxes of varying sizes at a rate of 120,000 cans per hour. Coca-Cola HBC Italy inherited the plant, and its layout, when it bought it from Socib, a former bottler, in 2008.
As is common in bottling plants, the canning line layout includes 180-degree turns after each of the two shrink-wrap machines in order to make available the maximum possible floor space for accumulating bundles downstream.
The turning conveyors that Coca-Cola HBC acquired were equipped with flat belts driven by lateral chains and with a series of tensioning devices that distributed tension across the whole surface of the flat belt.
This tensioning system depends on rubber rings that tend to wear and break. Addressing this issue required approximately thirty minutes of maintenance per month. Because belts for this application wear so quickly, the average belt life for the conveyor was less than six months.
In addition, either incorrect tensioning combined with the natural wear of the belt, or unexpected bundle accumulation along the turn, presented the risk of breakages. Breakage during production, with the consequent two-to-three-hour downtime needed to replace flat belts, was a potential serious threat to plant efficiency.
As soon as he learned about a new Intralox radius belt, the S2200 Edge Bearing belt, engineer Carmine Lepre immediately suggested using it to replace the plant’s flat belts. The bearings on the Intralox belt’s edge make it possible to decrease the amount of force along the radius, which is important because excessive force is a major cause of belt damage and breakage. Thanks to this new belt, it is possible to achieve 180-degree turns with a single belt, as well as longer radius turns than standard plastic modular belts allow.
The Coca-Cola HBC Italy plant in Marcianise took advantage of both of these features to make the following modifications to its conveyors:
1. Replacement of a group of three conveyors (one 90° radius conveyor, one straight conveyor, and one 90° radius conveyor, all equipped with flat belts) with a single conveyor driven by a single motor that runs for a total length of approximately 11 m
2. Replacement of a 8 m long flat belt over a 180° radius conveyor
The installation was assigned to a trusted OEM (Totaro Automazioni). It occurred quickly and smoothly, due in large part to Intralox engineering assistance and technical support, and Intralox personnel in Europe and the US. In fact, in order to meet the deadline for the plant’s scheduled maintenance period, the belt—which, because it was brand new, was not yet stocked in Europe (though it is today) - was assembled in, and flown directly from, Intralox’s US headquarters.
Both installations took place in October 2010; since then, no maintenance has been required. The belts that are working seven days a week over three shifts have shown no signs of wear and have allowed the maintenance time required by the old flat belts to be reallocated to other maintenance tasks. The robustness of the Intralox plastic modular belt also allows occasional, unexpected accumulation along the radius turns to be handled with ease.
Moreover, the change from a three-conveyor configuration to a single conveyor has not only allowed the plant to reduce the number of components (from three motors to one); it has also allowed for significant savings in energy consumption.
The return on the investment required by these modifications has been estimated at 18 months.