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CapEx Avoidance: Soft Drinks Packaging

In two days, opportunities identified to increase capacity of bottleneck processes by > 15% and > 20%, avoiding €500k+ CapEx


FMCG: Soft Drinks Packaging

Project Length

2 days - 1 consultant


To increase the thoughput of a ‘PET’ line palletiser, avoiding >€500k capital upgrade cost


2-day Opportunity Scan showed opportunities to immediately increase bottleneck palletiser throughput by >15%

Scan actions were implemented in 3 weeks enabling the client to avoid >€500k CapEx project to upgrade the Palletiser 

Scan also showed opportunities for doubling the infeed system speed and > 20% increase of filler throughput rate, avoiding potential future CapEx

Why was Chartwell brought on board?

A client had seen a shift in production format to smaller pack sizes and the palletiser on one of its lines was not designed to be optimised for this size.  The palletiser became the bottleneck of the line.  Whenever the new bottle size was run, frequent build-backs would lead the operators to reduce the filler and labeller speed, until they felt that the line would run “smoothly” without the filler stopping all the time.

The client asked Chartwell to determine whether it would be possible to increase throughput and therefore avoid the palletiser manufacturer’s proposal for an upgrade, which would have cost > €500k with several months’ lead time.

Key Workstreams

Palletiser Throughput Opportunity Identification

  • Working together with the client team, a ‘Single Minute Exchange of Die’ (SMED) process was applied to the twin palletiser cycle.
  • There was a complex interdependency between the palletiser and the upstream diverter and infeed system, which made each look like it was waiting for the other to complete a cycle – this made the analysis considerably more complex.
  • Taking a structured approach enabled the team to cut through this complexity and identify that the real issue was infeed delays: even when upstream conveyors were full, delays were occurring due to:
    • Gaps being left between consecutive bottles on the infeed
    • Issues in the electronic controller’s logic
  • The team designed technical improvements to overcome these changes and implemented them in 3 weeks to increase palletiser capacity by > 15%

Filler Throughput Increase Opportunity Identification

  • A combination of changes was identified to increase filler capacity:
    • Infeed Delays - Elimination of filler frequent, short stops due to lack of over speed and poor control philosophy
    • Cross Pusher - Increased speed of travel on return stroke and reduced all movements to a minimum
    • Pallet Loading - Removed delays in pallet loading and translation

The engineering team went on to make these changes over a three week period to achieve a > 20% increase in throughput.

"What Adrian brought was a whole new way of thinking, a systematic approach I had never seen before" - Engineering Director