A must have in your production quality control: Precision and carefree inline weighing
According to recent statistics, aerosol can production is 16 billion cans annually. Aerosol can production is also growing at a small but stable annual growth rate.
Today’s production lines usually run at 300 cans/minute. Fortunately, there is an ongoing trend for faster and more accurate checkweighers. Quality control criteria is becoming more demanding, by only allowing smaller tolerances. This results in can filling that is as close as possible to the nominal weight to avoid expensive overfilling while protecting the company’s brand image. Collection of statistical data is key to optimum can filling. Careful product handling is another critical element in producing optimum can filling at the typical 300 cans/minute production speeds.
There are checkweigher applications that require ATEX compliance, while others will not. Some applications will demand a bypass solution. Most applications are limited in space, and below is an example of a solution with a minimal space requirement and no line break.
Since its founding in 1960, Zellaerosol GmbH has specialized in the production and filling of aerosols and liquid products, and has developed an excellent skill set. The company has a manufacturing license in accordance with AMG Section 13 for human and veterinary medicines, and fifteen sophisticated production lines for aerosols and liquids. Zellaerosol has the following certifications: ISO 9001, ISO 13485, ISO 22716, BRC CP, and IFS HPC. The company is one of a small group of German contract aerosol manufacturers that can look back on many years of practice and experience.
For many years, the company incorporated high precision-weighing technology from WIPOTEC-OCS. This strategy enabled the company to offer their customers the best quality products possible. Dr. Ernst Fessmann and Dr. Dieter Fessmann founded Zellaerosol. They were well-known pioneers in the aerosol industry in Germany. In addition to all variations of contract manufacturing, Zellaerosol is also a particularly strong partner for its customers in the full-service sector. Zellaerosol is still an independent family business, currently headed by Dr. Thilo Fessmann.
At its approximately 18,000 m² Headquarters in “Zell im Wiesental”, near Freiburg, the plant has optimum conditions for implementing maximum quality requirements for its customers. “Meeting product quality on a long-term basis is the key component of our quality policy,” explains Dr. Thilo Fessmann, Managing Director of Zellaerosol. “This is why we take the utmost care when selecting our suppliers and technology partners.” The products produced at Zellaerosol include a large number of cosmetic products, particularly for hair and body care, pharmaceuticals, and technical articles, such as impregnating sprays, household cleaners, lubricants, paints and varnishes.
In the aerosol industry, we deal with cylindrical containers. Often tall and with a high center of gravity and a comparatively small footprint. These products require highly sensitive product handling. They are transported very close together. Sometimes with almost no distance between two containers. However, can separation is required for sensitive and high precision weighing of each individual aerosol container.
Instead of a classical three-belt conveyor checkweigher, the HC-A-IS with its sophisticated rotary star wheel system is used. The HC-A-IS can be configured as single, double, triple or four product weighing version. A format specific star wheel continuously guides the containers transported by the HC-A-IS. This design eliminates the need to cut production conveyor. Incoming products run into a central recess (pocket) located in the star wheel. Hence cans arriving at the inlet i.e. pocket, are transferred from the conveyor belt and onto the checkweigher. They are briefly released at the moment of weighing. Depending on the size of the product, this solution enables up to 400 weighing operations per minute. Products with the wrong weight are ejected either while still in the star wheel or immediately thereafter. In any case, the cans from the production lines are weighed and 100% documented inline.
The inline weight checking solution offered by WIPOTEC-OCS is a huge advantage for Fessmann and completely carefree from the production point of view. It is therefore, very easy to demonstrate 100% compliance with the pre-package directive (checking the net content). Thanks to the optional mean value control, the HC-A-IS sends feedback to the filling plant in order to adjust the filling, if necessary.
Jürgen Melch, Production Manager at Zellaerosol, is also impressed with the WIPOTEC-OCS weighing technology. He credits the high-tech specialist with a sophisticated weighing concept, “that is distinguished by very good product management, works virtually trouble-free, and can quickly and easily be integrated in the production process”. Melch is very satisfied with the service features and ease with which the machines can be operated. He goes on to describe what he considers the most important advantage of the WIPOTEC-OCS weighing technology: “The very short changeover times for the star wheels of just a few minutes are a real trump card.” All customers expect the contract filler to be extremely flexible, with the ability to handle different formats. The production specialist knows, “We can meet these demands in full with the WIPOTEC-OCS machines, particularly from an economic point of view.”
There are currently seven checkweighers in Zellaerosol’s production sections. All the machines are networked using the Comscale data collection solution from WIPOTEC-OCS. Comscale is a browser-based software platform that used to collect relevant production data from each connected device i.e. checkweigher.
Comscale enables the display of collected data on connected PCs or tablet devices. The collected information and statistics can be configured and put into graphs. “For me, that means maximum production transparency,” says Jürgen Melch. Dr. Thilo Fessmann also appreciates this: “The more timely the information, the faster we can respond.”