ICR (Industrie Cosmetiche Riunite), a maker of perfumes, shampoos, and other personal care products, recently installed a complete line for filling and packaging bottles of shampoo, bubble bath, body lotion, and hair conditioner in varied bottle sizes.
Marchesini and ICR worked side-by-side to come up with the line design. In a 42,000 square meter building in Lodi, Italy, ICR produces a number of top Italian brands, including Gianni Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Blumarine, and Custo. According to Roberto Martone, who founded the company in 1975, business has been good, even in the teeth of the economic downturn.
“Even in 2009 we still continued to invest in research and development,” says Martone. “In 2010 our turnover grew by 10% (91.3 million Euro) compared with 2009 and recorded 63 million finished pieces produced compared with 54 million in 2009. We have continued to grow even in 2011 and we will reach 90 million production pieces. We have more than 600 employees and our average yearly investments are worth 3 million Euro. All these figures confirm that the Group is healthy."
And why did ICR choose Marchesini to supply the new shampoo line? Martone explains.
"First and foremost, we chose Marchesini because it is renowned worldwide for its technological expertise. The trust between ICR and the Marchesini Group – which are both family-run companies but also world-class enterprises – is another important reason for which we decided to choose the Group from Bologna as our supplier. It should also be pointed out that Marchesini’s technicians are highly professional and helpful, offering assistance throughout all the realization and testing phases of the line.
"The line fills and packages 40-and 75-mL bottles with shampoo for a known brand of perfumes: it’s a unique and hi-tech line that was created through joint efforts between ICR and Marchesini. It involves a strategic investment for the Group because it is designed for a new type of product, with the aim to reach 6 thousand finished products an hour for the 40-mL bottles and 5.5 thousand for the 75-mL bottles.”
The components in the line
Marchesini supplied ICR with a complete shampoo line, from filling in bottles to packaging in cases, which is capable of processing 120 bottles per minute. The line consists of the following machines:
- a mechanical positioner that places the bottles in pucks
- a bottle filler ML661
- a Neri labeller RA800 2T
- a top loading casepacker MCV850
The product processed is a plastic bottle with two different sizes - 40 mL and 75 mL – with screw-on and flip top cap. The bottle is delivered by the mechanical feeder in pucks to the ML661 filling machine, which uses a special filling unit that adapts to the product’s viscosity. First and foremost, the product-feeding hopper is controlled by a thermostat so that the liquid is kept at the correct temperature should the machine stop. Because the filling process involves a rather tricky liquid to handle, in view of its high degree of viscosity, a number of special solutions have been integrated in order to guarantee high performance, such as: larger pipes, Ketron Peek valves rather than ceramic valves, and batching nozzles with air blowing cut-off valves to avoid soiling the bottle during filling.
As for the capping phase, the machine model ML661 initially screws the cap on to a preliminary 1 mm from the end of the full stroke. On the outlet, a unit with 3 screwing heads, each equipped with brushless motor, subsequently screws the cap on to the correct tightening torque. The use of brushless motors means that any anomalies in reaching the correct tightening torque can be controlled during the screwing phase.
Why did Marchesini devise a system with two capping stations? To be able to position the cap correctly because it has to be perfectly and exactly aligned with the lateral face of the bottle, and also to reach the end-of-stroke gently. Because these products are cosmetics, they have to be handled very carefully.
Downstream from the filling machine there is a Neri labelling machine RA800, on which the PharmaSpec product inspection system is installed. The PharmaSpec has 3 cameras: the first checks the arrival position and turns the bottle, if necessary, before the labels are applied; the second and third are positioned further forward and make sure the label has been printed and check the finished result of the labelled bottle. Furthermore, a de-ionization system eliminates any static electricity possibly generated during unwinding on the label reel.
The bottles are then packaged directly in cases by means of the Marchesini Top Loading Casepacker MCV850, equipped with robotic infeed, which is extremely flexible yet very reliable. The bottles reach a Robocombi system that picks them up and places them on a transfer plate: once the plate is full, it traverses towards the pick-up head that picks up the whole layer of bottles and places it directly in the case. During the traversing phase, a second empty plate moves towards the Robocombi system, thus guaranteeing the full output of 120 bottles per minute. The empty pucks are finally sent back towards the head of the machine. The supply is completed by an in-between sheet inserter. 3 dividing sheets are placed between the layers to protect the bottles inside the case.
All in all the new line is an impressively hi-tech solution capable of guaranteeing total protection and safeguard of the package throughout the whole process, step-by-step, in addition to precision and reliability in the filling, labelling and casepacking phases.