A question of good taste

Plastic carriers improve hygiene on rinser plants

Sparkling wine tastes great! That appears to be the opinion of the German public anyway, since in 2007 they consumed around 450 million bottles of the 2 billion bottles of sparkling wine produced in total around the world. Most of Germany's demand for sparkling wine is covered by German sparkling wine producers - four out of five bottles consumed by Germans are produced within the country. Schloss Wachenheim, a sparkling wine producer, is one of the largest suppliers in the market. Founded in 1888, this German manufacturer of sparkling wine is now an internationally leading producer of wine with brands such as Faber, Feist, Schloss Wachenheim, and many more. It employs over 1,200 employees throughout the world.

For this sparkling wine producer, in addition to an exceptional raw wine and the expertise of its employees, innovative technical equipment is also required to produce an excellent sparkling wine. For this reason, it regularly makes considerable investments in its production facilities. This includes investment in the producer's sterilization plant, since hygiene is of the utmost importance at Wachenheim.

The company's sterilization plant uses rinsers that rinse out plastic bottles to remove particles and subsequently sterilize them. Bottle gripper jaws on the rinsers grab the bottles that are to be cleaned and transport them through the rinser machine. Until 2006, these gripper jaws were made from rubber. "During a routine replacement of the rubber jaws, we thought about testing out the use of plastic instead, in the hope that we could further improve hygiene" explains Dietmar Molitor, technical director at Schloss Wachenheim, underlining the company's constant search for technical improvements.

Schloss Wachenheim's maintenance engineers contacted Murtfeldt's field staff and the two parties worked together to find a solution. The decision to use this Dortmund-based company stood to reason: The two companies had already successfully worked together on the recording of dimensions for format assemblies and their subsequent production. In addition, Murtfeldt Kunststoffe GmbH & Co. KG is one of the world's leading manufacturers of slide profiles, chain and belt guides, chain tensioners, and custom machine parts.

With the aim of significantly increasing the hygiene rating of machines, the Application Technology department of the Dortmund-based company tested various materials in extreme conditions and ended up recommending Original Material "S" plus+® AB. The reason for this decision was as follows: Microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi can damage the human body. They are thus undesirable during the manufacturing and processing of foodstuffs. Original Material "S" plus+® AB contains special substances that prevent the growth of microbes at the same time as protecting humans and the environment. It thus prevents unpleasant odours and the formation of biofilm. In addition, Original Material "S" plus+® AB has shown itself to be highly abrasion resistant in many applications, to be extremely resistant to chemicals, and to have no moisture absorption. All of these factors play an extremely important role with regard to rinsing facilities at Schloss Wachenheim.

Murtfeldt's proposal was in competition with the material choice of an Italian machine manufacturer. However, the price relationship - which was also impressive in comparison with that of the previous outfitter - tipped the scales. Original Material "S" plus+® AB was used to machine the gripper jaws in accordance with customer drawings. The resulting jaws were implemented in the same way as the original rubber parts - only the material differed. The smooth collaboration between the two companies doubtlessly also influenced the granting of the contract: "We are extremely happy with our collaboration" says Dietmar Molitor, technical director at Schloss Wachenheim. "Murtfeldt quickly implemented all changes and improvements."

Original Material "S" plus+® AB by Murtfeldt has now been used successfully for bottle gripper jaws since September 2007. The changeover has quickly shown positive results: Cleaning efforts have been significantly reduced, improved centring has enabled narrower tolerances to be observed in an optimum manner, and overall the running behaviour is trouble-free. "These plastic gripper jaws have given rise to an improvement in hygiene conditions" states Dietmar Molitor. "Moreover, thanks to these new finished parts, the plant is now more precise."

It is not yet clear whether long-term productivity will be increased since the new carriers have only been used for a relatively short time. The plant speed cannot be increased since the application does not allow such a change. However, an increase in productivity might be achieved through a longer operating life.

Schloss Wachenheim and Murtfeldt are sure to continue working with each other in the future. Constant dialogue on diverse applications takes place between the two parties. For example, whenever Schloss Wachenheim is faced with tangible projects, it contacts Murtfeldt's field staff for advice on feasibility. "If we need more form sets in the future, Murtfeldt will be our first port of call" says Dietmar Molitor, showing his satisfaction with collaboration with Murtfeldt.

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