Tate & Lyle
Carst and Walker
Hartness Dynac conveyor

Clover signs for a Dynac

Clover SA is preparing to commission the country’s first aseptic filling line for plastic bottles at its Queensburgh factory in Durban. Adding to the story comes news that an auxiliary component of this line will be the revolutionary Hartness Dynac conveyor.

What’s a Hartness Dynac conveyor, you may be asking? And why is it so newsworthy? Well, firstly, the Dynac is a wicked piece of engineering and secondly, it would not be over-stating the fact to say that it has revolutionised bottling and other packaging lines in recent years. Clover’s purchase represents the ready market in South Africa for technology that, while never cheap, more than pays for itself by putting a capital ‘E’ into production efficiencies.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Just after WWII, Tom Hartness started out as a Pepsi bottler in South Carolina, but one who liked to tinker with his machinery, who had a passion for making things work optimally. A small company with big ideas evolved into Hartness International, now a global supplier of bottling lines and other packaging equipment. But what has really put Hartness on the map is its amazing Dynac conveyor, technology it unveiled in 1998 and which has become a new standard for the bottling industry in a decade. What makes the Dynac so special its clever simplicity – a relatively compact device has the unique ability to make key machines in a production line independent of one another.

Production lines comprise machines that are required to run in balance through the length of the line. Nice in theory, rather more tricky to accomplish in reality. The problem is that they don’t naturally operate in unison without complex control systems linking them  together. And when things go awry on any packaging line, as they always do, it’s no laughing matter. The Dynac resolves these problems by creating an automatic, pressureless buffer.  

Hartness is represented in South Africa by Plastic & Chemical Trading (PCT), and Clover’s purchase is the ninth Dynac sold in this country. ‘Introducing new technology to a new market is always a slow process, but we now have eight Dynacs in operation; four at Nestlé plants, three at SAB and one at Distell,’ says PCT’s Ben Cockram. ‘The Dynac is a superb solution to production line efficiencies. It’s simple, mechanical, compact and ideally suited to our manufacturing environment.’

ImageSolving up and downstream trouble
The heart of a production line is the filler, whether you’re producing salad dressing, canned baby food, shampoo or beer – and the ideal is to keep the filler running continuously. If the filler is down, so is productivity. And the choreography of such operations must be absolutely precise, with the filler depending on upstream machines to feed it empty packs or bottles in a precisely-timed fashion, and on downstream machines to smoothly move the filled product to the labeller. When a downstream system turns troublesome and threatens to sabotage the show, what then? The traditional solution has been the accumulation table, but these create other issues, especially when it comes to putting pressure on the packs or bottles.

‘The Hartness Dynac conveyor system totally eliminates all these problems’, says Ben. ‘It’s an expanding loop conveyor, and once a pack or bottle moves onto the system, there is absolutely no pressure on it. Each has its own space, and is metered in and moved along in a fully sequential first-in, first-out loop.’

Accumulation can occur on a constant basis, so the machine is designed to read the product pressure ahead or behind a product. ‘This means if there’s a problem with a labeller downstream, the machine will automatically accumulate the product coming out of the filler in a completely pressureless, non-damaging fashion. No breakage, no label damage, none of the problems that currently exist in the high-pressure accumulation systems,’ he adds.

Dynacs are designed to run empty or full. ‘So the Dynac can run empty behind a filler, and full ahead of a filler. This means that you have completely isolated the filler from any kind of problems,’ Ben explains.

Another advantage of the Dynac system, both mass flow and single-file options, is its compact size which means that product lines can be made smaller, allowing greater production potential from a fixed amount of floor space. In addition, when lines are more compact, systems can be coupled closer, requiring fewer operators.

The single-file Dynac series 6000 conveyor system that Clover SA has bought handles both round and non-round rigid containers. ‘In Clover’s instance, we’re putting 87 linear metres of conveyor in an area of only about 7m2,’ notes Ben. The conveyors resemble parking garage spirals and they are primarily four levels, although six- and nine-level machines are also available.

In launching the Dynac, Hartness anticipated it would be an international success, and it was not wrong:– some 1 500 units are now in operation. It has opened up new markets for Hartness throughout the world and Ben feels it will prove a winner here, too: ‘The operating concept of the Dynac is so unique and revolutionary that few customers have a frame of reference with which to define it. But people are starting to come to us now and it has become standard equipment on all new Tetra Pak lines which is further proof of its growing acceptance. Dynac fills a need not met in the past – it offers a major breakthrough in the way packaging lines are designed and operated,’ he concludes.

Plastic & Chemical Trading T +27 011 4833015
www.hartness.com, www.plastrading.com

About Clover’s new aseptic plant 

In a first for this country, Clover SA will be commissioning a Stork Asep-Tec linear filler its Queensburgh, Durban, plant in December. This high-tech system will replace existing sterilised milk lines and these will be the first products to come off the new line. But we can expect to see a lot more from Clover’s R40-million investment by way of product innovation -– aseptic filling for plastic bottles is a major trend in global dairy/juice markets, especially as the key growth avenues are in added-value products with long shelf life. Read more here

First published in PACKAGiNG & Print Media Magazine, August 2008, written by Brenda Neall.

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