Breaking bad

by Treena Hein

It may have started in a humble Maritimes potato field, but the technology of New Brunswick’s Masitek is now the global go-to standard for minimizing product losses during manufacturing and handling. Customers of its industrial division (MMAAZZ) include global beverage giants Anheuser-Busch InBev, Nestlé, Carlsberg, O-I, Asahi, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Guinness, Nescafe and more.

The acrylic replica containers with the sensor devices inside travel through filling and packaging lines to determine where trouble spots may be.

The technology consists of ‘smart’, sensor-enabled replicas of bottles (and eggs or vegetables in the firm’s agricultural division) that allow clients to identify and immediately fix the causes of cracking, scuffing and other quality issues. Travelling along filling, capping and packing lines alongside their real counterparts, the devices wirelessly transmit real-time data on impact jarring, velocity, temperature and more, allowing immediate adjustments to handling equipment.

Smooth suds
The Pump House Brewery in Moncton, NB has been using MMAAZZ technology for about a year, and has also served as a MMAAZZ product testing site. The Pump House beer plant opened in 2002, regularly produces at least ten beers, and ships products across Canada.

Plant director Roland Arsenault is happy with MMAAZZ tech. He finds the instruments “extremely user-friendly” in identifying any source of problems or concerns within minutes. He adds, “the real-time measurement of the impact and pressure incurred by the bottle or can make it easy to quantify and confirm the overall operation of our filling line.”

MMAAZZ executive vice-president and engineer Pablo Asiron provides some examples of additional uses. Anheuser-Busch InBev uses MMAAZZ devices at its operations in China and beyond for both proactive maintenance and in critical line interruption scenarios.

The technology allows the causes of the damage shown here to be quickly identified

Carlsberg initially used MMAAZZ tech to solve high breakage issues after plant staff failed to identify the root cause of the problem in other ways. Carlsberg uses multiple MMAAZZ instruments across many sites for efficiency improvement, and Nestlé has used them in the development of a new container design.

How it works
Several types of MMAAZZ devices are available; the ‘smart’ sensor pod is transferable to various container shapes such as bottles, cans and jars. “We base the replicas,” says Asiron, “which are made of heat- and water-resistant acrylic, on your containers’ CAD drawings.”

When a test of the line is required, the sensor-laden replica is simply turned on and inserted into the line. It then runs through the system with the regular products, delivering feedback via bluetooth beacons stationed at intervals alongside the packaging line.

MMAAZZ ‘ShockQC,’ as its name suggests, measures IPS (inches per second) and G-Force to identify the root causes of impact damage. Like other MMAAZZ technology, its wireless Bluetooth location tracking and integrated photo capture pinpoint the problem as the device travels the entire filling, capping and packing line.

Multiple uses
ShockQC also assists in controlling label and pressure damage by measuring degrees per second of container tilt and spin. Companies can also ask for temperature sensors to help them prevent contamination and other quality issues during rinsing and pasteurization.

An employee at the Pumphouse Brewery checks the acrylic sensor sleeve.

In addition, the ShockQC software calculates the IPS that containers are experiencing. Asiron says each type of glass has a maximum IPS it is designed to withstand and that recommended level should not be exceeded. He says overall ShockQC can reduce breakage and damage by 80 percent and downtime by 60 percent, but each plant scenario is unique.

Sporting pressure-sensitive film, ‘PressureQC’ devices measure scuffing and squeeze load in glass, PET and canning processes. “This device – the sensor in its appropriate acrylic replica ‘sleeve’ – reduces scuffing and abrasion damage,” Asiron explains. “Companies can extend the life of recycled bottles by reducing their ‘Scuff Index’; what we’ve created is the industry’s only measure of a container’s pressure and spin velocity.” He says that using MMAAZZ tech, returnable glass container lifetimes can be extended up to eight years.

Two other devices are available. ‘VerticalQC’ calibrates vertical pressure load up to 700 pounds and provides rapid calibration of capping machines, identification of damage from over-stacked pallets and reduction of leaks during shipping.

‘SeamerQC’ is very similar to Vertical QC, but focusses on preventing undersealing or overload in seamer machines.

Once the appropriate solution is chosen, Asiron says set-up and real-time calibration is quick and straightforward. Training of an entire team takes less than two hours and MMAAZZ can facilitate.

“We have proven technology that has saved companies a great deal of money through pinpointing problems and preventing both damage to product and shutdown of lines,” he notes. “We are expanding our worldwide customer base all the time.”