Australia’s Amcor Limited commissioned its largest PET bottle manufacturing facility at its US plant in Blythewood, South Carolina, in January 2005 (the plant was a Greenfield build in 1998). Amcor added the new machine, SBO 16 Universal, to its existing line to increase production of PET bottles. The rotary blow-molding machine has been producing PET bottles 24 hours per day, seven days a week since it was installed.

Amcor was looking for manufacturing solutions aimed at higher productivity, lower bottle costs, and package quality for PET bottles for soft drinks in capacities ranging from 0.25L to 3L. The company signed up with Sidel for SBO Universal blow molder technology in 2002 and the machine started production in January 2005 at its Blythewood facility. After several months of production, Amcor found the SBO Universal an easy-to-maintain machine which incorporated an advanced control system to maximise uptime. Production of PET bottles at the plant is run in four shifts 24/7. The SBO Universal was the first blowing machine of Sidel’s new generation of equipment. There are now six models with number of molds from 6 to 20 and output from 10,000 to 36,000 bottles per hour.

In February 2010, Amcor announced that it would launch a new global brand to indicate the formation of a new company. The decision was taken following Amcor’s acquisition of the assets of Alcan Packaging on 1 February 2010. The new brand is expected to be launched over the next few months.

Blowing and coating, filling and cap feeding

“The SBO Universal machine achieved an output rate of 1,800bph/mold for a total output of 28,800bph.”

Sidel, the US-based supplier of packaging lines, took three years to design and deliver its first SBO Universal machine for Amcor. Sidel operates in blowing and coating, filling systems, conveying and cap feeding, and end of line solutions.

Sidel’s SBO Series 2+ generation of blowers is the world’s most extensive range of 12 standard machines, with 4 to 28 cavities and production rates ranging from 6,400 bottles per hour to 45,000 bottles per hour. The machine provides solutions for packages ranging from 0.25L up to 3L in standard sizes, but it can be modified to accommodate containers up to 5L or 6L if required.

The SBO Universal machine installed at Amcor achieved an output rate of 1,800bph/mold for a total output of 28,800bph. The productivity has reached, according to company sources, “record levels.” The machine is ergonomically designed with all easy accessibility features. The preform feeder has been totally redesigned to match Amcor’s specifications.

Besides performance improvements in output rates, energy consumption and production control, the SBO Universal was also found to be extremely reliable on the site at Amcor.

Plant capacity increased at Amcor in 2005

The SBO Universal has achieved an output rate of 1,800bph/mold for a total output of 28,800bph. Amcor’s Blythewood plant production capacity came into its own in 2005 with an increase to around two billion PET packages annually. The plant produces around five million PET bottles per day in 45 different varieties of size, shape and colour. The SBO equipment as well as the other lines is controlled by a plant wide IT system provided by Wonderware of Invensys Systems, Inc. These systems, which minimise downtime, include InTouch HMI and IndustrialSQL Server historian, ActiveFactory reporting and analysis clients, SCADAlarm event notification software and DT Analyst asset monitoring and OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) software.

Improvements over previous models

“The new machine achieved Amcor’s demanding requirements.”

Sidel’s new generation of SBO Universal blowing machines cut PET bottle blowing costs by up to 20% compared with its own SBO Series2 equipment while maintaining the package’s quality.

SBO Universal enabled Amcor to achieve high-speed manufacturing solutions such as higher productivity, lower bottle costs, and package quality for plastic bottles ranging from 0.25L to 3L.

The new machine achieved Amcor’s demanding requirements. The SBO Universal operates four shifts alternate to produce PET bottles 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The system delivers a tightly controlled process at the fastest cycle times yet achieved in high productivity rotary blow-molding machines. Amcor found that its new SBO Universal is a well-thought-out machine, designed to minimise planned maintenance, with an advanced control system that maximises uptime.