Bacardi’s Jacksonville plant is among the first to put a new uncasing machine into practice on a commercial level. The machine is called Global Pack and it was developed by Hartness Intl. (Greenville SC).
Looking more like a merry-go-round than the sophisticated piece of equipment that it is the Global Pack is a high-speed rotary system (see video). It uses 10 carriages continuously moving in a perfect circle to pick bottles from tab-lock reshippers and place them on a tabletop chain conveyor that leads to the rinser/filler/capper block. The actual picking and placing is done by mechanical grippers 12 per carriage that close on the bottle neck and hold firmly to lift each bottle from its reshipper.
A few feet downstream is another Global Pack machine. But this one loads instead of unloads using the same principle of continually rotating carriages each with 12 gripper heads. Only this time the grippers lift bottles from a tabletop chain infeed conveyor and place them back into tab-lock reshippers.
Plant operations manager Bob Zahn says one reason he likes the Global Pack concept for both uncasing and casing is that it’s perfectly suited to tab-lock cases. “We like tab-lock cases” he explains “because we don’t have to worry about flap control.”
He also says he appreciates how gently the bottles are handled by the Global Pack machine and how small the machines’ footprints are. He does admit to being a little nervous about being the first to install a Global Pack machine. “But they’ve worked out fine” he adds. “In fact we’ve already had Anheuser-Busch and Molson in here to look at them in action.”