A Label With Creases?

Monday, September 13th, 2021

At the Mozart Distillerie, shiny paper foil is wrapped around spherical liqueur bottles to deliberately evoke the impression that it has been applied by hand. With manual labelling, the high production figures would have ceased to be feasible a long time ago. 

This is why Mozart has now invested in a new labeller, which Krones has meticulously customised to suit the liqueur producer’s wishes.

In the past few years, the Mozart Distillerie has experienced an upturn unprecedented in the firm’s 65 years of corporate history: since the Salzburg-based company was in 2016 taken over by the sparkling-wine producer Sektkellerei Schlumberger, output has more than doubled.

“Three years ago, we were still making 300,000 litres of Mozart Chocolate Liqueur a year, while the figure for 2019 was already 650,000. You can say that we’ve evolved from a manufactory into a proper production facility with a corresponding degree of automation,” relates Friedrich Guggenberger, authorised signatory and Plant Manager of the Mozart Distillerie. 

The five different chocolate liqueurs are traditionally produced by hand but bottled automatically. As time went by, however, one machine in particular was giving Mozart more and more headaches: the labeller, meanwhile 30 years old, was custom-built by a special-purpose-machine manufacturer and rated at 1,500 bottles per hour. “Since I joined Mozart 27 years ago, I’ve been tinkering with this machine, trying to improve its productivity and labelling results. Because after so many years on the clock, it was still labelling our spherical bottles, but no longer to the technological or output standards that have meanwhile become state of the art,” explains Friedrich Guggenberger. 

A Far-Sighted Tinkerer

Around 15 years ago, the Plant Manager had already approached various machinery vendors for the first time—but without success. 

“I got nothing but refusals, even from Krones,” he recalls. “Because a tiny bit of what we wanted was standard design, but most of it was special-purpose customisation.” 

Admittedly, the Mozart Distillerie’s requirements were far from simple. “Since we wrap our spherical bottles in full-coverage paper foil, we always create creases. And whereas every manufacturer of labellers tries to prevent this, we actually want them, because they give the impression that the containers involved have been labelled by hand,” explains Friedrich Guggenberger. 

He adds: “The foil has to fit snugly round the bottle’s body, but in the vicinity of the neck and the base it has to be folded in such a way that it does not twist and subsequently disappears reliably underneath the capsule closure.” 

But that’s not all: the machine was also required to incorporate monitoring systems that inspect the labels and the foil for correct placement and for integrity as well. What’s more, the bottles must not turn on the downstream conveyor, so that they enter the capsule closer in the correct orientation.

It Takes Time To Get Things Right

During the course of his career at Mozart, the passionate tinkerer Friedrich Guggenberger had already been thinking about how all of these requirements could be met on a single machine—and early in 2017 he finally succeeded in bringing Krones on board for actual implementation. 

“I’d started to lose hope that I would someday see my ideas translated into engineered reality,” he admits. 

But Krones accepted the challenge—and combined the long years of practical experience and visions of Friedrich Guggenberger and his team with the technical expertise of its own labelling specialists.

The results are truly impressive—since Mozart has received from Krones a line that meets every single one of the wishes previously expressed:

  • After being filled, the bottles enter the labeller through a double worm. An optical monitoring system then centres them so that the sloping area for the label is facing outward. 
  • Thereupon the aluminium-coated paper foil is affixed. To make sure it does not slip, first of all, a dot of hotmelt is sprayed onto the bottle and then the fully glued foil blanks are wrapped around it. For this purpose, Krones is for the first time deploying a combination of one cold-glue and one wrap-around Contiroll labelling station. 
  • The next station uses a sponge to press the foil against the sloping area in such a way that afterwards the pressure-sensitive body labels can be applied to the creaseless front of the containers.
  • This is followed by an operation that basically every labeller manufacturer tries to prevent: creasing. For this purpose, Krones developed a patented combination of a servomotor, which turns the bottles, and linear motors, which in twelve press-on operations use sponges to carefully press the foil onto the containers. 
  • To enable the foil to be dependably secured at the edge of the base as well, Mozart was already using a small bottle plate in the old line, which raises the containers merely by a recess in the base. This means the edges of the bases remain free and the sponges can fit the foil around the edge. In the discharge, a transfer starwheel then lifts the bottles carefully onto the conveyor. Meanwhile, a Checkmat inspector monitors the base label already applied downstream of the filler for correct position and orientation.
  • The position of the closure cap then applied is also precisely defined. In order to prevent the bottles turning as they travel, Krones has developed a guide rail that transports the bottles with the aid of the sloping label area as an orientation reference point. These rails can be re-adjusted with only a few manipulations, so that all six sizes—from the small 50-millilitre to the large one-litre bottle—can be handled with the same system.

“I know that we had very many requirements for this labeller—but Krones met all of them. And the result is highly impressive; no other manufacturer could have managed it,” says a gratified Friedrich Guggenberger. 

Both Mozart and Krones channelled a lot of energy into the development work. Throughout the project’s entire duration, there were numerous meetings, close cooperation, and intensive mutual feedback between the two companies. “Krones thought hard about how our requirements could be translated into engineered reality, and first built a prototype, in which we in turn incorporated our own empirical feedback,” relates Friedrich Guggenberger, who has plenty of praise for everyone concerned: “The people who were involved in design and assembly were so clued up that they immediately grasped all the problems and challenges involved and solved them straight away.” 

The new line is currently dressing around 5,000 bottles per hour, with an option for increasing the output to as much as 9,000 bph. And although the labeller now operates fully automatically in line with the very latest state of the art, to the outsider’s eye Mozart continues to embody its craft operation. Because no one crease resembles another—and the labeller handling the containers is just as unique as every single container it dresses.

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