It’s not just the cider that’s dry!
11 October 2012
Air Control Industries’ novel JetPlate bottle and can drying system continues to gain plaudits from beverage producers around the world. Thanks to its high efficiency and ability to handle fast throughput rates, it is now satisfying the production requirements of companies as diverse as cider makers and vegetable fruit juice specialists. Les Hunt reports.
The German fruit and vegetable juice producer, Haus Rabenhorst has recently installed a bottle drying system at its premises in Unkel on the banks of the Rhine. Supplied by Air Control Industries' (ACI’s) German distributor, Carl von Gehlen of Mönchengladbach, it comprises ACI's innovative blower-powered ‘JetPlates’ combined with a special cap drying unit, configured to handle 125ml, 330ml and 500ml bottle sizes.
There were a number of reasons why the ACI blower-powered bottle drying system was selected for this application. In addition to JetPlate's efficient drying action, the need for compressed air and its inherent problems are avoided altogether - problems such as high operating cost, potential safety hazards and the risk of product contamination. This last point is particularly significant for Rabenhorst. With the company’s focus on purity and integrity of product, the potential hazards presented by contaminated compressed air were deemed totally unacceptable.
The final assembled package is based on ACI’s EL (Eye Level) configuration complete with JetPlate air delivery plenums. These have flat acrylic faces with stepped air slots, designed to create a delivery pattern that drives moisture down and off the bottles. The smooth-face design of the plenums permits them to be positioned close to the bottles for maximum efficiency of air delivery whilst also acting as guide rails to prevent them falling over. Clean, filtered air is delivered by an ACI 15kW EP10A blower housed in an acoustic enclosure.
Normally, the acoustic chamber is leg mounted so that it can be located either to one side of the bottling line or astride it. However at Rabenhorst it is installed on top of a pasteurisation chamber, saving floor space.
JetPlate was also the choice of the Vermont, USA based Woodchuck Cidery, which started out as a maker of apple wine. Its next move was to create the first truly American hand-crafted hard (alcoholic) cider for over 200 years. Today, the Woodchuck Cidery has a state-of-the-art production facility with a keg filling system and automated bottling lines, and the blower-powered bottle drying system was installed to help keep up with the growing demand and ensure the integrity of downstream labelling and ink jet coding.
This JetPlate package was supplied by Air Control Industries' US-based subsidiary ACI Inc, and like Haus Rabenhorst's system, it comprises facing air-delivery plenums that can be positioned close to the travelling bottles to ensure maximum drying efficiency whilst simultaneously acting as guide rails to prevent bottles from falling over.
In Woodchuck's case, however, the JetPlates are complemented by pairs of airknives and adjustable air delivery nozzles to provide detail cap and neck drying. This prevents moisture retention under the crown tops and ensures secure adhesion of neck labels. Air for these systems is provided by an ACI ‘EL’ semi-enclosed blower unit, leg mounted so that it can be installed alongside the bottle/can lines or even straddle them.
The JetPlates require minimal adjustment for different bottle sizes, permitting a rapid line changeover from one product to another. At the Woodchuck Cidery they are currently handling standard 12oz and 22oz bottle sizes.
The ability of the ACI system to handle the company’s increased throughput of 600 bottles/min is illustrated by reduced instances of coding illegibility, now down from a previous high of 30 percent to just 3 percent. Moreover, label-placing has become much more accurate, with the ‘no defects’ rate jumping from 50 percent up to 99.9 percent!
Contact Details and Archive...