During the cleaning process, impurities are extracted using filtered air and a vacuum process.
Since its foundation in 1990, Best World International, based in Singapore, has specialised in the development and distribution of high-quality skin care, body care, health and wellness products. To remain an attractive and flexible player in the face of strong international competition, the company invested in an agile and sustainable monoblock bottling line from Schubert Cosmetics. Products with different viscosities are filled into several different bottle formats – with the highest level of filling accuracy and precision.
Far beyond the Asian region, the manufacturer’s luxury cosmetics are also in demand in North America, the Middle East and Europe. During automation planning, it was key that the high-value cosmetic products could be filled with as little waste of the filling media as possible during format changes. Best World also wanted to avoid any damage to the sensitive products and packaging. Additionally, the new line had to be very agile and cover a high variety of formats – today and in the future – through quick and, above all, easy format changes. The product portfolio in question at Best World currently includes eleven different products or filling media of widely varying viscosities, which have to be filled into five plastic and two glass bottle formats. Another challenge was to reliably ensure the fully automatic filling and packaging line’s high filling accuracy – from very small volumes of 15 millilitres per batch size through to 118 millilitres.
Together with the Best World team, led by Lim Sze Huey, Group Manager Product & Quality, Schubert designed the new line as the successor to its agile vision line. Based on Schubert’s proven TLM system components, the new packaging line demonstrates its flexibility and agility primarily through fast format changes, a very high format variety and low format costs. Moreover, the entire filling and packaging process is efficiently integrated into a compact single line. The foundation for the exceptionally simple and cost-effective format changes is 3D printing; with a few exceptions, all change parts are sourced from the 3D printer. In the compact line, the plastic and glass bottles are cleaned, precisely filled, sealed and packed into pre-glued automatic sideloading folding boxes in successive steps. The high demands made on the completeness and integrity of the products and packaging are ensured by several camera systems, which check the products at various points during the process and sort them out if necessary – without interrupting the continuous packaging process.
The line also excels with its high filling accuracy (+/- 1 per cent), even with the small 15-millilitre volume – and also with high-viscosity cosmetic products. To achieve this, the Schubert experts rely on eccentric screw pumps, which have already proven their worth as dosing systems in many similar projects. With highly accurate scales used before and after the filling process (net weighing) and through the fully automatic readjustment of filling volumes, this exceptionally precise filling accuracy is achieved – at an output of up to 100 bottles per minute. This applies to all eleven formats with the various filling media and cosmetics currently being processed on the line.
3D printing via Schubert’s PARTBOX platform also enables the cosmetics manufacturer to print spare parts or new format parts in-house. With few exceptions, all exchangeable parts can be easily reproduced. This significantly reduces delivery times to Singapore as well as storage costs. With this sustainable and very flexible form of value creation, Best World can count on rapid implementation of future formats and a further reduction in time-to-market.
- Precise filling of very small volumes (15 millilitres) thanks to high-precision net weighing
- Direct cleaning in place and sanitising with a permanently integrated CIP system
- Advanced error and quality control via several camera systems
In an upstream cleaning process, the inside of the bottle is blown out with filtered air and impurities such as dust particles are simultaneously extracted via a vacuum system before the bottles are fed to the filling area – which has two filling stations, each with eight filling points. In normal operation, only one of the two filling stations is active at any one time, so that simultaneous cleaning of the second system is possible during ongoing production. In the new Best World line, both the eccentric screw pumps and the filling stations can be cleaned in compliance with the CIP standard (Cleaning in Place) and sanitised (a disinfection process to significantly reduce germ counts) – without time-consuming disassembly. The CIP system had in fact been considered by Schubert during the development phase and is now firmly integrated.
Another advantage of the monobloc line is its advanced error and quality control. Containers and components that do not meet Best World’s high quality standards are removed on specially defined rejection tracks. The bottles are ejected if, for instance, they are underweight or overweight, if they have the wrong format or defects on the outer surface of the bottle, if the closure torque is low or if components are broken. At the same time, Schubert’s Transmodul transport robot is refilled with defect-free products via a storage/intermediate table, so that only completely filled Transmoduls enter the area for packaging ready for dispatch. If required, “good” bottles are also specifically selected in this step for an even more precise IPC (In Process Control) quality check.
Prior to ready-to-ship packaging, the bottles are packed into an automatic sideloading folding box, which is serialised for further optimisation of the packaging process. The carton’s corresponding component barcode – i.e. whether the correct packaging material is used – is checked via a barcode scanner. For this purpose, an alphanumeric bottom imprint is applied to the folding boxes prior to being loaded with the products. The bottles are not packed into the folding boxes until this has been visually confirmed as flawless. The shipping cartons also receive a corresponding serialisation imprint, which is visually checked for correctness. In the event of incorrectly sealed cartons, a shift register ejects the individual cartons via a separate discharge chute.
- A fully automatic packaging process in a single line (monoblock)
- 3D-printed format parts
- Up to 100 bottles per minute
- 11 different formats on just one line
- High filling accuracy (+/- 1 per cent) with a wide viscosity range
- Transmodul in use