Due to its market’s high demand for bottled water, the Coca‑Cola Solar plant in Maceió, Brazil, runs 24/7 with limited downtime for maintenance. Coca-Cola Solar wanted to automate its manual packer to palletizer area to increase capacity and efficiency, while reducing manual labor. Traditional radius belts require a large radius and more floor space. When they are combined with traditional roller top accumulation belts, more transfer plates and installation time are required, and the possibility of product skewing, jamming, and damage increases.
Coca-Cola Solar also wanted to reduce overall changeover time, and to be able to run any small packs that may be developed in the future. Due to the plant’s running 24/7 operation, the changeover had to take place within a limited time frame.
Upton, an Intralox OEM partner, was working with Coca‑Cola Solar to meet the plant’s objectives. Knowing that Intralox has the most innovative packer to palletizer belt portfolio, Upton brought in Intralox Account Manager Marcelo Mattos to optimize the line layout. Together, they developed a plan that could increase efficiency while reducing risk, installation time, and downtime.
The solution included Series 2300 radius belting with noseroller configuration and the S1000 belting, a straight-running belt series that can convey a wide range of SKUs without transfer plates in between conveyors. The unique S2100 ZERO TANGENT™ Radius belt completed out the installation, with its compact footprint and flexibility. The entire solution would fit seamlessly into Coca‑Cola Solar’s existing space.
“We worked together on the design and inspected the conveyors during the testing phase at the customer’s plant,” said Mattos. “We provided support throughout the entire installation.”
Intralox and Upton successfully turned their plan into action and switched from a manual to an automated line in record time within the tight existing floor plan. By installing the new line parallel to the old line, changeover was completed with only three and half hours of downtime. “It was a challenge for us because we did the installation during our high season,” said Ana de Fatima, Coca-Cola Solar Production Supervisor. “This installation happened with the least possible production impact.”
The combined S1000 and S2300 solution included 22 fewer transfer plates, saving costs on transfer material and installation time. A smaller number of transfer plates also enables the customer to handle smaller packs in the future. “This is an excellent solution and provides an optimal product flow between the packer and palletizer,” said Jose Luis dos Santos, Upton Sales Executive Director.
In addition, Coca-Cola Solar no longer needs an operator to set up the line when changing labels or pack formation, saving about 30 minutes per labor operator per day. In the six months since the successful Coca-Cola Solar installation, Upton has already applied this solution to other installations.
“The best part of this experience was working as a team between Upton, Coca-Cola Solar, and Intralox,” said Mattos. “We trusted each other, we worked as a team, and the success of the installation is really because it was a total partnership.”