Up to 50,000 containers per hour can be labelled with just one unit – this number alone says enough about the newly developed Sleevematic TS from Krones AG. The company has succeeded in doubling the performance of the system compared to the predecessor series. One major reason for this is that instead of the classic cutting of the sleeves they are now micro-perforated. A large number of lubrication-free plain bearing components from igus®, which have proven their worth at Krones for many years, are also used.
Krones AG was founded in 1951 and is headquartered in Neutraubling near Regensburg. The company manufactures and sells machinery, plants and systems primarily for the beverage and liquid food industry and considers itself to be a systems provider rather than a pure machine supplier. "We offer our customers turn-key systems that are tailored to their needs," explains Josef Mayer, Head of Product Management Inspection and Labelling Technology at Krones. "This covers all processes, from beverage production, packaging and labelling through to inspections and palletisation. "There are various methods for labelling; one of those used by Krones is the stretch or shrink technology of the Sleevematic series.
Here, Krones now offers an advanced technology with the Sleevematic TS. The TS in its name stands for Top Speed, and that is exactly what the machine does. With it, it is possible to label up to 50,000 containers per hour with just one unit. "The sleeve technique has since blossomed from a niche into a mass product," says Josef Mayer. "Even in bottling plants, there is the demand to achieve ever higher performance, to move ever faster and to be able to label faster and faster. Krones has taken a big step forward in performance with the Sleevematic TS compared to the previous series, which means the output of labelled products has doubled.
Before the individual sleeves are applied to (shot onto) the bottles, cans or other containers, they are no longer cut individually from the roll as in the previous technology, but the sleeve is now micro-perforated. It is thus possible to dispense with the clocking operation during the cutting operation, thus permitting continuous movement of the sleeves. Instead of cutting blades, the Sleevematic TS uses two rotating perforation cutters. In addition to the increased output, a further advantage is the significantly longer service life of the cutters. While the four cutting blades required in the past can be used for approximately five million cuts, the present two perforation knives are designed for up to 70 million cuts.
Based on the modular concept of Krones, the Sleevematic TS also made use of existing components. The company continues to rely on lubrication-free plastic solutions from motion plastics® specialist igus® for various adjustable parts and other moving components. Since highest safety standards for the protection of consumers are applicable to beverage and food technology, it is important for designers to be able to rely on products that do not require external lubrication, thus eliminating the possibility of contamination of the food or beverage. Therefore, a wide range of igus® products are used in the Sleevematic TS. From dry operating drylin® plastic nuts and drylin® linear bearings for shafts (drylin® R) in the belt station and the sleeve brush, and drylin® profile guides (drylin® W) in the inlet and outlet sensor, up to complete drylin® SLW lead screw lift tables with hand wheel for manual adjustment in the preliminary shrinkage process as well as the height adjustment of the guide rollers.
The guide rollers are also supplied by igus® to Krones as a complete system solution consisting of two xiros® polymer ball bearings and an anodised aluminium tube. In the past, Krones used metal bearings here. However, they did not run smoothly enough, sometimes causing the entire roll to stop and the label band would just "slip over" it. Due to the lower mass in the xiros® ball bearings from igus®, these problems are now a thing of the past. Here glass balls are used as rolling elements, which are held by plastic ball races in the bearings. The inner and outer rings of the ball bearings consist of xirodur® high-performance plastics, which are distinguished by excellent friction and wear values.
For these guide rollers, igus® also offers on its website a configurator, by which the user can configure their components easily with a few clicks and order the required length online. The advantage here is that this complete solution saves considerable assembly time, because igus® preassembles the guide rollers before delivery. "We are dependent on partnerships, where the quality also has to be right, but it must be something more than a mere product," explains Josef Mayer. "Therefore, it is also very important to us that our suppliers not only offer good products, but also complete assemblies or systems. And this also works very well with igus®. “
Krones and igus® now have a partnership dating back more than 25 years. "The collaboration is great," concludes Josef Mayer. "The support right here on site works very well. You look sometimes in a catalogue somewhere else and thinks that the product in question might just about fit. But at igus® you have a personal contact and always receive straightforward and suitable solutions immediately, even during prototyping." However, igus® also benefits from the cooperation – new ideas and initiatives of the customers also lead to the creation of new products, allowing the flow of innovation to always remain in motion.