Bottle guide system for label centring

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Follower from Makro Labelling, the innovative bottle guide system able to guarantee centring of the label, fast bottle format change and minimal maintenance costs

Modularity, flexibility, practicality: are the three concepts that have defined Makro Labelling’s style and philosophy and driven the technical innovation that has become its key strength.

An innovative exclusive Makro Labelling patent which promises to provide a concrete, fast and economical answer to one of the most common problems in the labeller sector, that of orienting the bottle on the labelling line before application of the first label. It is Follower, the optical guide system designed, made and developed by the Marmirolo based company, one of the most innovative in Italy and abroad making industrial labellers for the beverages, food, cleaning products and pharmaceutical industries. “Constantly committed to technological innovation, our group had been working for some time on a solution to the thorny problem of orienting the bottles on the labelling line”, explains Massimo Manzotti, President and Sales Director Makro Labelling. “The bottles may have a notch which acts as a reference during label application, or they may be made from glass and the label must be centred with a brand mark in relief. Or again, in the case of classical sparkling wine bottles, the bottle must be oriented in such a way that the writing on the capsule is aligned with the label. We studied the most effective way to solve this problem, a solution able to improve the performance of the machines and guarantee advantages for our customers, without interfering with production with high maintenance costs and lengthy down-time when changing the format of the bottle”.

Patented system
There are various types of bottle guide on the market, including a mechanical system in which a “seeker tooth” is inserted in a step created on the bottom of the bottle to pull the bottle into the required position. Then there is a system, able to work with various sizes of bottle, combining an independently motorised plate and an optical system which provides a signal in correspondence to an “optically recognisable” notch. This system causes problems and slowdowns on the production line when changing the format of bottle means having to identify a different notch. And finally, there is the visual system based on the use of video cameras which photograph the bottle at the beginning of the carousel, process the image to identify the notch and orient the bottle on the turntable accordingly. This advanced system requires no intervention when changing format, but necessitates considerable investments on the machine and has quite high management and maintenance costs. Follower is a module which can be applied to the labeller during or after construction. It enables the bottle to be oriented optically using considerably fewer sensors than the mechanical equivalent and much more quickly and economically than other systems.  “With Follower, in practice the optical sensors follow the bottles for the time necessary to orient them, then return to lock onto and follow the next bottles”, explain Simone Marcantoni and Marco Bellini, electronics and mechanical designers. “All you need do when changing the bottle format is modify the position of the sensors on the Follower to start working immediately with the new format. This takes about 30 seconds”.

MAK3 labellers with optical centering Makro Labelling
MAK3 labellers with optical centering Makro Labelling

Modular and flexible
Thanks to the synchronous servo motors and sensor support structure, the Follower moves in a curved trajectory parallel to the perimeter of the carousel. The sensors therefore remain in front of the bottle for the time necessary for orientation only. They then go back and take up a position in front of the next bottle. Follower works on the outer perimeter of the carousel and ensures maximum accessibility of the sensors. It becomes to all intents and purposes a module which can be attached to the machine, then detached, or if needed, replaced by a labelling unit. The centring algorithm is very user friendly to manage. Creating new formats or modifying the parameters is thus easy and immediate, without requiring the intervention of an engineer. “Design of Makro Labelling machines has always been based on the ability to be modular, flexible and easy to use. These three characteristics are indispensable to meet the requests of the market and implement our solutions. With Follower, we have designed and patented an optical guide system able to guarantee users reliability, efficiency and extreme accessibility, with working costs reduced to  a minimum”, concludes Massimo Manzotti.

by Clara Biancardi