and Soft Design AB have been selected by rigid plastic packaging specialist, Logoplaste, to help improve the efficiency of its manufacturing operation to produce enough sports drink bottles to meet demand for the London 2012 Olympics.

The £35 million contract was awarded to Logoplaste by a global pharmaceutical giant responsible for manufacturing close to one billion bottles of its popular sports drink every year.

An important task for Logoplaste was sourcing suppliers to help make the manufacturing process as smooth and efficient as possible. Chris Jones, Project Manager for Logoplaste, said: “From a very early stage, we knew that the plastic preforms required for making the bottles would need to be stored in boxes. We ruled out wood and cardboard as the boxes needed to be handled in a series of automated processes. Plastic boxes were the logical choice because of their consistent size and weight, superior hygienic qualities, and they are reusable.

“As we handle many millions of preforms each month, the box had to be capable of holding anything between 7,000 and 20,000 parts. To maximise storage space we needed to be able to store approximately 2,000 boxes in our warehouse. We calculated that the size of the box would have to be close to 1,200mm (L) x 1,000mm (W) x 1,600mm (H) to meet the volume and storage requirements.”

As the sole UK supplier of Europe’s largest plastic pallet box, was selected by Logoplaste to supply 2,000 of its GoBox 1311 plastic containers with lids. The GoBox 1311 offers a storage capacity of 1,400 litres and is ideal for large-volume consignments. Some slight modifications were made to the container and lid to ensure that the boxes could be stacked accurately and securely up to five boxes high. Delivery of the boxes was a large-scale logistical operation requiring 48 trailers, which coordinated to fit Logoplaste’s tight delivery schedule.

Swedish automated solution provider, Soft Design AB, provided the automation required for the project, which consisted of seven Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), two Pick & Place lid application and removal machines and eight Box Tippers. Soft Design AB has worked with AGV Systems for over 20 years and its state-of-the-art AGV Control System ‘MAX’ offers a warehouse management module, which controls and optimises AGV transport assignments.

For this particular project, MAX was programmed to locate and identify all the boxes throughout the manufacturing process; to calculate the quantity of plastic preforms in each box; to track the boxes from the beginning of the production line to the warehouse, and to empty and replenish the boxes as required.

Chris added: “After six months of consultation with and Soft Design AB, the automated system is now working in a production environment very satisfactorily and we’re confident we can produce enough sports drink bottles to help our client meet demand for London 2012.”

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