Bottling plants in modern breweries operate at high speeds, typically between 800 and 1300 bottles per minute. There are many different packaging options for bottled beer, however a significant number of bottles will end up in the traditional plastic beer crates we have come to recognise.

Transferring filled bottles to crates, whilst keeping up with line production speeds, requires multiple bottles to be handled in each cycle. This in turn means that the payload to be handled can be high with fast transfer speeds required to keep pace. To solve their bottle and crate handling tasks, one major European brewery turned to Gantry robot experts Güdel, to develop an innovative and flexible solution.

The system developed by Güdel for this application comprises of two separate Gantry Robots, mounted to a single overhead framework arrangement which gives a reduced footprint to suit the limited floor-space in this part of the plant.

Filled bottles arrive on a wide slat-band conveyor before being collated into groups of 20 (4 x 5) bottles, ready for loading into the crate. The first of the two Güdel gantry robots uses a multi gripper capable of picking up 80 separate bottles in the required configuration simultaneously to fill 4 separate crates together. Empty crates are delivered on a twin roller conveyor system which runs under the bottle line. The robot loads 4 crates on one conveyor, followed by 4 crates on the adjacent one.

When the robot has loaded all 8 crates, they are moved to the second Güdel gantry robot which picks 4 crates at a time and stacks them on a waiting Euro Pallet. Both robots continue to work in sequence to fill crates and build complete pallet loads. Güdel gantry robots were selected for this application due to the compact configuration of the dual robot system and their reputation for reliably handling heavy payloads with the highest levels of accuracy at high speeds.

Güdel has a number of installations with the Beverage sector, with other systems being used to handle both filled and empty Beer Kegs. In these applications the typical weight of a filled keg is 65Kg, and Gudel gantries can handle a pallet layer (six kegs) quite comfortably if required, or less as shown on the photograph above.