Liquid Contents from Off-spec and Mislabeled PET Containers and Aseptic Packages is Reclaimed for Reuse at Rates Exceeding 3,000 Pack per Hour
This liquid processing and packaging operation concurrently runs multiple, high-speed filling lines. Each line processes the same liquid product, but each line is filling the liquid product into packages of different types, sizes, and materials. When line startup events or packaging issues occurred, the resulting off-spec or mislabeled packages had to be disposed of at considerable cost. Attempts to manually reclaim the liquid typically led to product contamination. Manual recovery efforts also required costly reallocation of staff and presented safety and maintenance concerns.
Container types from one-gallon PET jugs to one-pint PET bottles, as well cartons and pouches for aseptic processes, are filled at this processing and packaging operation. Previous efforts by the project owner to mechanize the reclamation of off-spec or mislabeled product were unsuccessful. The multiple packaging material types and the varying package sizes presented significant difficulty when attempting to design a single recovery system for all packages. Recognizing the advantages of NBE expertise in liquid product recovery, the project owner worked with NBE and the engineered-to-application (ETA) project execution framework to define tangible performance outcomes for the project. Proactive process analysis by NBE practice leads across application engineering, mechanical engineering, and controls and automation identified a design that would ensure the controlled removal of the reclaimable product from all package types being filled at the processing facility. The design of this NBE liquid product reclaim project uses a high-torque, compression screw mechanism, functioning within a sanitary, liquid-tight enclosure, to press open the packs. Packs are fed into the receiving inlet by bulk conveying or manual loading. From the inlet, the packs enter the compression-screw process. The compression action ruptures the packs causing release of the liquid contents. The conical-core design of the compression screw further compacts the packs to remove residual liquid. The opened and emptied packs are pressed into the final compactor stage where they accumulate until they are discharged for recycling. The liquid contents from the packs are run through a series of screening stages before entering the collection tank. The liquid is pumped from the collection tank, filtered, and returned to the product stream for reuse and repackaging.
Regardless of the size or material type of the off-spec or mislabeled packages, the compression-screw functionality of this NBE liquid reclamation project provides a product reclamation percentage of over 98%, at a processing rate of over 3,000 packs per hour. Product waste associated with off-spec or mislabeled packs has been nearly eliminated, and the recovered and compacted product packaging is bundled for recycling.