Typically, bottling lines are referred to as semi- or fully automated. A semi-automated bottling line consists of separate mechanized components requiring manual labor to move bottles from one component, or station, to the next. It’s labor-intensive, but there is a cost savings. A semi-automatic line operated by three to five workers can reasonably produce 300 to 400 cases per day. A fully automated line produces a completely finished bottle and, if it includes pallet-handling and case loading equipment, can produce finished cases. These lines require four to seven people and produce, at minimum, roughly 1,000 cases per day. They can be created by linking semi-automated equipment together, purchasing separate automated components and combining them or, more commonly, purchasing a prepackaged series of equipment made by the manufacturer, called a monoblock.
Monoblocks are bottling line systems consisting of multiple pieces of equipment mounted on the same chassis (Figure 17.4). The exact handling of the bottles, and the beer chosen to fill them, determines the configuration of the monoblock. Placing several bottling machines on the same chassis allows the various components to be driven by the same motor.
Bottling lines in general, and monoblocks, are becoming increasingly automated and computer controlled. Mechanical systems are subject to hydraulic shocks caused by opening valves, tanks with a high hydrostatic volume, or just by the stop and go of the filler have an influence on the filling level.
Mobile bottling is best described as the process by which a company comes to the brewery, sets up a temporary bottling/canning line, and bottles/cans beer on demand. For small breweries with modest budgets, mobile bottling/canning is a cost-effective measure because modern bottling/canning machines can a substantial investment. Also, if a brewery was to purchase its own bottling/canning line, there is a significant amount of space required for bottling or canning.
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