Robots reducing risk at Encirc

The swabbing robot at Encirc

Health, safety and environmental benefits, along with greater efficiency, have already been proven on a trial of the Socabelec IS machine blank-side swabbing robot, says Encirc.

“We don’t have the operator close to the machine on the blank side and currently we haven’t had any accidents on the IS machine with the swabbing robot” reports Dave Waldron, Health, Safety & Environmental Officer, Encirc.

“We haven’t completely removed the operator from the machine, but the robotic swabbing has reduced the interaction with moving machinery, reducing the risk as there are fewer interactions. The operators themselves have given very positive feedback and think that they should be rolled out across all machines.

“The swabbing robot will also reduce environmental impact through the measured application of the swabbing oil use and further reduce a fire risk”.

The swabbing robot can easily be stopped and started from a control panel away from the machine. A specialist sets it up at the start of the job change and provides all the information the machine needs before it carries out each cycle.

Another positive for Encirc’s trial is consistency. Every human IS machine operator will swab slightly differently, but a robot achieves consistent swabbing across all shifts, cutting down on bottle rejection and waste from manual operation.

Encirc installed the swabbing robot on one machine in March 2018, and with the trial in its final stage was set to install another four in December 2018. Encirc uses the Emhart NIS 12 section ‘quad’ gob IS machine. After initial trials the robot has been set to carry out a swabbing cycle every 15 minutes.

The production of screw cap containers was causing some issues, where originally the robot was swabbing the neck rings and causing chips on the finish of the containers. To overcome this they were being swabbed manually. The robots have now been switched to swabbing bottles with the simpler crown finish top, and have taken over all swabbing responsibility with no manual swabbing needed on the blank side.

Holly Feeney, Environmental Health and Safety officer, British Glass, said: “It’s great to hear that the introduction of engineering controls has reduced the risk of IS machine accidents, and highlights how forward thinking the industry are in terms of health and safety.”

For more information on swabbing robots please visit the Socabelec website