New materials technology gives manufacturers a competitive advantage

Case Study: Alternative Engineering

Equipped with materials application knowledge and expertise, Alternative Engineering enable manufacturers to take advantage of the financial, productivity and performance gains from using high performance and advanced materials. One such application using new materials technology resulted in a substantial 82% reduction in production line stoppages.

Executive Summary

Correct material applications for machined parts and other production processes is crucial to maintaining high productivity outputs and achieving consistently high standards of quality. Often times, manufacturers experience many unnecessary hours of downtime and product wastage due to machines malfunctioning or systems crashing. The culprit? Sub-standard or incorrect materials selected for the manufacturer’s specific application or desired output.

Staying on top of new materials technologies and material properties knowledge is difficult to bring about in a typical, high-paced manufacturing production environment. External engineering teams like Alternative Engineering, however, rely on this expertise to produce accurate, durable and efficient production processes and systems that can support high-load applications across a broad range of industry. The result? Significant financial, productivity and performance benefits for the manufacturer.

Two projects highlight Alternative Engineering’s expertise in materials application and the benefits an external team can bring to this area. One is a design improvement to Campbell’s can scroll to resolve the issue of cans being damaged or dented, which was resulting in production line stoppage.

“Comparing 6 months prior, with 6 months after the installing the improved scroll, an 82% reduction in can jams and crashes has been recorded. This has reduced both product wastage and downtime from line stoppages” – Richard Lamont, Campbell Soup Maintenance Department, Campbell’s

The second project is a purpose-built and designed replacement labeller scroll for Asahi Beverages, to resolve a quality issue being caused by bottle scuffing. In both examples, the LubX material was used.

“Alternative Engineering was requested to come up with a solution to an ongoing labelling equipment problem which resulted in continuous bottle scuffing to a new-style glass sleeved bottle. They analysed the production process, and identified and manufactured a purposebuilt and designed replacement labeller scroll. This enabled Asahi to successfully produce a new-style of sleeved bottle with great success. Thank you! Perfect solution!” – Jason Luhm, Asahi Beverages Tullamarin

What is LubX?

LubX is a high-performance material especially designed and manufactured to work seamlessly with POM and steel, making it suitable for applications in materials-handling and automation technologies. LubX offers several advanced features including:

  • A lower coefficient of friction, which eliminates the possibility of the slip-stick effect (backsliding) almost completely and thus increases process stability;
  • Energy saving properties, so systems using LubX requires less energy to run;
  • Excellent dry-running properties;
  • Outstanding noise-reducing properties;
  • Suitable for contact with foodstuff.

How extensive material knowledge and design expertise can help manufacturers in different production environments

Looking at the two scenarios in detail, we can see everyday production occurrences where significant productivity gains can be made or lost.

LubX scroll example: Alternative Engineering. LubX is used to manufacture scrolls where a lower coefficient of friction is required to reduce potential container damage

Sub-standard or incorrect materials can cause various issues. For conveyor systems, it can cause backsliding which will then lead to products crashing into each other and causing dents, scratches and even breakage. In many cases, production will stop while the issue is being fixed. However, this is not only a production issue, it also poses a risk to quality and keeping food and beverages contained in the product safe for consumption.

In the case of Campbell’s, a can damaged elsewhere prior to the filler, could not exit the original scroll without the carry chain flite tipping it over, causing the line to stop, and smashing other cans in the process.

In the case of Asahi, a recurring issue with the labelling equipment was causing bottle scuffing.

For Alternative Engineering, LubX with its outstanding sliding properties, made it an excellent solution for both projects. In the case of Campbell’s, the improved scroll resulted in reduced can damage as it places the can ahead of the carry chain flites, and allows the line to cope with mildly dented cans if passing through. For Asahi, the new material allowed reduced marking on bottles (PET), sleeved bottles and soft labels. Using the LubX material across different applications, Alternative Engineering created effective solutions that resolved production issues that were not only causing inefficient downtime, but also compromising product quality.

The outcome was a great success for both projects: an astounding 82% reduction in can jams and crashes for Campbell’s and the successful production of a new-style sleeved bottle for Asahi Beverages.

A deep knowledge of material application across a broad range of manufacturing environments and expertise in engineering design go hand in hand. This perfect combination of experience and know-how enable specialised engineering teams like Alternative Engineering to create solutions that help manufacturers produce more high quality products at lower costs. At the very end of the process, the benefits trickle down to us, the consumers, as we get to enjoy our favourite foods and beverages at a cost we can all afford.

Alternative Engineering: Expertise and service you can rely on

Alternative Engineering is a leading Melbourne based engineering and manufacturing company that specialises in highcapacity production environments with particular expertise in the Food & Beverage sector. With an impressive and growing client list, Alternative Engineering has built a reputation for exceptional customer-service, technical expertise, reliability and quality engineering outcome.