A giant leap forward in bottling line performance
With each of its high-speed lines producing 108,000 bottles of water every hour, Niagara Bottling's new plant in Ohio is able to supply small format bottled water to consumers across the entire Midwest region of the United States. One of the fastest and most technologically advanced production facilities for bottled water in the world, it features a groundbreaking new generation of PET bottling lines released in early 2013 – the Sidel Matrix, a versatile modular solution with fully integrated automation from B&R. 2013 has been a milestone year for Sidel, also marking the 30th anniversary of PET bottle production for this global leader in liquid packaging solutions. Based on years of intensive research, development and validation, Sidel Matrix machines employ the latest proven technologies and versatile configuration options to more closely match customers' individual production needs. Spanning the entire bandwidth of bottling line equipment from blowers and fillers to labelers, these new machines offer an unprecedented level of performance and flexibility.
New automation for new production challenges
Sidel has always focused on developing innovations that meet the continuously growing demands of its customers. Sidel's Matrix system was designed to optimize every part of a PET bottle filling system. This led to significant innovations such as the use of electric drives and replacement of pneumatics with linear motors to move the preforming stretch rod. A key goal of this new modular system was to optimize the way the line operates as a whole. Sidel recognized that this called for a single, fully integrated automation solution, which meant finding a global automation supplier able to offer versatile solutions that accommodated all machine types in addition to any planned future innovations. The biggest automation players in the market took part in a one-year Early Supplier Involvement (ESI) evaluation. "The technical requirements for the new automation solution were very high," explains Isabelle Maillot, vice president of product innovation at Sidel. "During the ESI evaluation, B&R offered the most suitable solutions, with autonomous ACOPOSmulti servo drives that were able to fully satisfy our requirements for accuracy and speed." These criteria were essential for implementing the enhanced new functions Sidel's customers were looking for. "B&R's solutions scored successfully among 80 criteria of the ESI evaluation and easily met our most stringent requirements," adds global sourcing manager David Dumouchel. "Moreover, a selection of 90 different B&R models covers the needs of the entire range of Sidel Matrix machines!" The hard real-time capabilities of the POWERLINK network protocol, the high performance of the Automation PC – which allows seamless processing of both control and HMI tasks on the same hardware platform – as well as the exceptional level of integration achieved with the Automation Studio development tool were decisive factors in Seidel's choice to equip the new Sidel Matrix machines with B&R systems.
In order to support Sidel in this new challenge, B&R assembled dedicated teams for training, testing and support in every country where Sidel has production facilities. The relationship between the Sidel and B&R teams evolved quickly as they collaborated to bring all of B&R's innovative technologies to the Sidel machines. With B&R always available for support and advice, Sidel retained full control of the machine development project and ensured that every line of code was written by Sidel engineers, guaranteeing that Seidel's technical staff possesses all of the expertise necessary to provide support, optimize processes and quickly develop new machine options on demand.
"The cooperation between the Sidel and B&R technical teams was a key factor in the success of the Matrix project," explains Thierry Deau, manager of automation innovation at Sidel. "With the help of the local B&R teams, we have made the B&R technology our own. This way, we can take full advantage of its distinctive features and pass on all the added value to our customers."
For Sidel, another aspect of providing its customers optimal service was to make the new machines as easy as possible to maintain. The System Diagnostics Manager (SDM) tool that comes integrated in each B&R X20 PLC gives Sidel easy access to detailed status information about each and every axis and I/O channel on its machines, either locally or remotely. Since SDM can be used in any web browser, Sidel Matrix users don't need a special software tool or extra training to perform diagnostics.
Modular approach for fast, flexible development
When it came time to design the Sidel Matrix, Sidel divided the machines into smart mechatronic modules. The high performance of POWERLINK and the embedded openSAFETY protocol ensure seamless communication when transferring both functional and safety data between all automation and drive components – within individual modules and across the entire bottling line. Thanks to this modular approach, Sidel teams based in Octeville, France, and Parma, Italy, were able to develop the blowing and filling modules independently, resulting in a combined solution that is unique to the market. At the equipment level, the modules interact through standardized interfaces, allowing each to be developed separately but put back together seamlessly in order to bring new levels of performance to market significantly faster. "The market demand for the Combi machine is already very strong," says Damien Fournier, Sidel's manager of blowing products. "In 1997, Sidel was the first bottling line manufacturer to provide this type of solution. Now, with its modular architecture and proven technologies, the new Sidel Matrix Combi provides enhanced functionality at every level and is sure to once again set the bar for the PET beverage market."
Thoroughly tested for maximum reliability
With the PLC and motion simulation tools provided in B&R's Automation Studio development environment, Sidel was able to develop and test the new machines largely in the comfort of the office. Nevertheless, the bottling line manufacturer tested critical functions over millions of cycles on actual machines to ensure maximum reliability.
"The first lines installed have reached a very high level of performance since day one," explains Jean-Félix Lesueur, vice president of the Sidel Matrix industrial program. "Customers are completely satisfied with Sidel Matrix equipment, and we are proud to offer them machines that combine innovation, robustness and improved hygiene with reduced energy and raw material consumption."