Glass manufacturing for the beverage industry
Glass for more than just a bottle
A bottle can be more than just a bottle in a competitive market. The way a product is packaged or bottled can influence the decision to make a purchase. The container industry is fierce and faces broad challenges. At the same time, making quality tequila and beer requires specialized quality processes. In Mexico, companies pride themselves on providing a distinctive characteristic brand and quality beverages. Mexican companies have worked hard to share emblematic beverages with global connoisseurs. Tequila, mezcal and beer are the bottled beverages that put Mexico on the map. The brewing industry is strong in Mexico with 110 million hectoliters of beer produced in 2017. The need to manufacture enough bottles to meet that demand is evident, since consumers prefer bottling in glass. At the same time, over 271 million liters of tequila are produced in Mexico annually. In recent years, consumers have demanded more sophisticated and specialized products, which require flexible production capabilities and state-of-the-art automation. At the same time, Mexico has attracted both domestic and foreign investment into glass production because of advanced automation solutions and advantageous cultural and economic factors. With Siemens technology solutions individualized mass production can satisfy the quick changes required for smaller batch production and support the larger big brews. Siemens is an active participant throughout the production process in the manufacturing plants of glass bottles for the beverage industry and provides automation and digitalization solutions to some of the largest bottlers in Mexico. The company contributes heavily to the glass making industry that creates the bottles and then also to brewers, distillers and bottlers.
New technology results in lower production costs
The Mexican company, Fábrica de Envases de Vidrio (FEVISA) produces high quality bottles in an automated process with Siemens’ technology. The company was founded in 1987 and employs more than 1,600 people. FEVISA has created important alliances with high level bottle companies and their clients. Currently, FEVISA operates two modern plants in Mexico, one in Mexicali, B.C., where it has five ovens, serving to the export market and the other one in San Luis Potosí, with two more ovens.
With major investments in technology, people and quality, FEVISA produces 2,025 metric tons per day (tmpd) of molten glass per day. Siemens’ technology is utilized in the oven and electrical systems processes and is a critical factor in the mixture house, where the raw materials required throughout the process are handled. This line includes a control system based on SIMATIC S7.
The oven is the heart of this type of plant and is controlled with a SIMATIC PCS7. Once the glass is melted, the next step is to transform the glass into a finished product, the bottle. An individual section (IS) machine is used to deliver synchronized gobs of molten glass which are then pushed into the mold using a blow method. The delivery process is supported by SINAMICS. Once the bottles have been formed and cooled, the final step is to pack them for transport. Siemens is seen throughout the process even into the packaging lines which are controlled by a SIMATIC S7 controller with a SIMOGEAR gearbox.
The company optimizes their production costs with in-line energy regulation, which contributes to electricity, gas, water, and air consumption savings. Siemens solutions also contribute to waste reduction, increased productivity, and greater plant’s efficiencies. These issues are of the utmost concern to a glass container manufacturer. FEVISA additionally has a 3D CAD solution in the engineering area, called Solid Edge (Siemens PLM Software) for quick and easy design of its glass bottles, saving them time and money in production.
Eng. Francisco Wong, Director of Technology and Productivity at FEVISA, confirmed, "FEVISA has always implemented the best proven technologies worldwide in its plants, so it is part of our growth and synergy."
Tequila with the highest quality standards
Casa Sauza is part of the Beam Suntory Corporation that has been exporting tequila to more than 73 countries since 1873. To produce the best tequila, the company has implemented a series of specialized methodologies, which it applies to production and quality processes of tequila production. The company is committed to the management and development of its employees, compliance with industry standards from certifying organizations and guaranteeing the delivery of the highest product quality levels.
When Casa Sauza looked to build a new plant they selected Siemens as their technology partner and together are developing a digitalization plan to include all of the processes in the new tequila plant. One of their goals is to reduce the research and development time and to accelerate the timeline for launching new products.
During a second stage of the project they will gather data and performance numbers, focusing on the efficiency of production lines and energy analysis. Then in a third stage will review integrated quality processes and deliver the ability to carry out real time adjustments during the tequila production.
For Casa Sauza, automation will help solve personnel and resource shortages (including hydraulic resources). It will reduce agrochemical, fuel, and supply costs and will increase productivity. According to a Casa Sauza’s director, “The real value of automation is seeing people have a fundamental change in the way they think and work. Everything comes together when people think of themselves as part of the greater process. Ultimately, it will help our company to be competitive, and to create higher and more sustainable performance in the Tequila market.”
And what about the big brews?
Siemens Mexico has helped to standardize the brewing process and automate production of some of the largest bottlers in the country. A recent project Constellation Brands Inc. (CBI) includes one of the largest fleets of laser guided vehicles in the world.
Dramatically increasing production without impacting ongoing operations was the goal and took a lot of planning and attention to detail. Planners weren’t just interested in boosting volume, they also wanted to increase uptime, efficiency, and safety all while maintaining the quality and consistency the brands are famous for.
Early on, CBI decided that standard platforms were a necessary component of their automation and expansion plans. Equipment came from a large number of global suppliers, each with their own approaches, but the strategic team decided they all needed to have the same look and feel.
The company turned to Siemens to help create and organize the project and ensure that all the equipment suppliers used a common approach. This standardized approach was carried through from the production equipment to the laser-guided vehicle fleet that carries materials and inventory around the facility.
Managers at CBI were impressed with the domain knowledge at Siemens. The German company has worked closely with brewers since the late 1800s, when the F. Oettler in Weissenfels an der Saale brewery installed a distributed electric motor. That seems quaint today, but it was a pioneering step at the time.