6 July, 2022

Festo and PCE Automation help Frugalpac increase production of sustainable wine bottles

14 June, 2022

A collaboration between Festo and PCE Automation has helped recyclable packaging experts Frugalpac Ltd to achieve the high throughputs and precision assembly necessary to meet increased demand for its innovative paperboard Frugal Bottle. 

Frugal Bottle is claimed to be the world’s first paper wine and spirits bottle. Its design comprises an outer made from 94% recycled paperboard with an inner food grade pouch. Frugal Bottle is fully recyclable, is five times lighter than glass and has a much lower carbon footprint than traditional wine bottles. It also offers 360-degree branding for better impact on the shelf.

Frugal Bottles are manufactured from two paperboard blanks that are precision cut, glued and then wetted front and back, before being stacked ready for feeding into the bottle forming machine. Achieving the desired throughputs is a major challenge because the glue pathway is complex and must be tailored to the profile of the bottle. In addition, the correct amount of glue has to be applied to prevent malformation or unsightly glue excess on the finished bottle.

Frugalpac had approached an adhesive systems company for a solution, but they were unable to achieve the desired cycle times. Working closely together, PCE Automation and Festo developed a fully automated gluing and wetting line to meet the tight tolerances and complex gluing patterns necessary to deliver throughputs of 630 bottles per hour.

Ronan Quinn, project manager for PCE, says: “The gluing process was more complex than anything we’d encountered before. Tight tolerances on the gluing pattern combined with a short cycle time and critical bead thicknesses were a real challenge. We would usually undertake the entire design and assembly inhouse, but on this occasion Festo supplied the handling gantries to us fully assembled which added real value in terms of component compatibility and commissioning.”

Making it stick

The automation cell provided by PCE Automation requires minimal human intervention. An operator loads the blanks for the front and back of the bottles at the front end. The machine then picks, loads, transfers, glues, transfers again, wets and conveys the prepared blanks into a container at the end of process. The prepared blanks are then transferred to the bottle forming machine.

PCE Automation used the Festo Handling Guide Online (HGO) to design the automation cell. This free online tool dramatically reduces design, assembly and delivery time and enables customers to create a ready-to-install handling system: whether for a single-axis system, a 2D linear and planar surface gantry or a 3D gantry. With just a few clicks, the HGO delivers the right standard handling system, including CAD model, animation, and complete EPLAN schematic documentation. The individual steps (including RFQ, layout, quotation and CAD design), which previously could take 10 to 15 days, can be completed in a matter of minutes. The reduction in design and documentation time enabled PCE to meet Frugalpac’s delivery expectations.

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