Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky and Gin Company of Pernod Ricard, aims to become the global leader in Scotch’s fast-growing premium sector. In order to help achieve this, the company requires increased production efficiency from its Kilmalid bottling facility in Dumbarton, near Glasgow.
The facility plays a key role in the distribution of brands such as Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s and Beefeater Gin, and is currently undergoing an upgrade to its line 15 bottling line. After the successful installation of eight automatic case palletisers three years ago, and the upgrade of bottling line 12 to include an automatic bottle de-palletiser, Chivas chose to contact Pro Handling Solutions Ltd; the agent for Lita Srl of Turin, Italy – one of Europe’s major suppliers of palletising and de-palletising systems.
PHS, based in Worcestershire, looked at Chivas’ requirements of high speed, tapered bottles and a very tight envelope before choosing a Lita Metro de-palletiser. This allows the operator to put a pallet of glass on the in-feed conveyor by fork lift truck, then key the glass type and pallet code into the HMI. The pallet is then automatically conveyed into the de-palletiser.
The layer trays are automatically removed by a pneumatic robotic arm which lifts the tray and drops it in a discharge chute to be collated by the operator for recycling. The layers of bottles are swept onto the discharge table, which can run at a rate of up to 250 bottles per minute if required. On some premium glass the bottle dividers are removed manually by the operator. Bottles are powered through 90 degrees and transferred in single file on to the line bottling conveyors. When all the layers are swept off the empty pallets are automatically stacked ten high and removed by fork lift truck.
The order was placed in April and had to go into production early in August with as short an installation window as possible. PHS project Manager Geoff Hunt chose to do as much commissioning and product trials in Turin as physically possible to minimise the installation and commissioning time at Kilmalid. Pallet loads of glass were shipped to Turin and extensive trials with Chivas’ project team were completed prior to delivery of the system to Scotland.