"When you look at the variety of sizes we're doing you understand why versatility not speed was the primary concern." That's how plant engineer Doug Burt of Shrader Canada Ltd. sums up the new line running at the firm's plant in Oakville Ontario. A contract packager running a wide range of liquid products for the automobile aftermarket Shrader decided 1995 was the year to automate. Burt wasn't kidding about bottle diversity either. Right now 12 different bottles are filled on the line and about all they have in common is that Express Plastics (Mississauga Ontario Canada) extrusion blows them of BP Chemicals' (Cleveland OH) Barex® modified acrylonitrile. The bottles are round rectangular or oval from as small as 250 mL to as large as 1 L with neck diameters as narrow as 20 mm or as wide as 38 mm. SKUs are plentiful as well ranging around 200 during peak periods. The bottles filled on the new line formerly were filled on one of three different fillers. That was about it for packaging machinery. The remaining operations--feeding empty bottles and caps labeling capping case packing--were done manually. A key objective behind the modernization was to reduce the number of manual operations and this objective has indeed been met. "The number of standard positions on the line is down to four" says Burt. "It may be reduced by one more as we continue to improve efficiency particularly during long runs where a changeover doesn't complicate things." The new line is pretty fast too even though high-speed filling was not a primary concern. According to Burt the smaller bottles are filled at about 200/min.