Q: What is your background?
I have worked for more than 25 years in the can and closure making industry, specialising in end production. I have also become a specialist in twist-off production technology. In the last decade or so, I have worked as a hands-on consultant with my company IR Consultancy in the can making and twist-off production industry doing temporary assignments as an interim manager. In that way I have gained experience of the inner workings of various tool suppliers, including the Whitecap group within Silgan, the machinery of Cantec, Alfons Haar, Naroska, the various tool suppliers, and also some Taiwanese suppliers of machinery.
Q: If building a production line for twist-off closures, what would you take into consideration?
First of all, I would opt for a sheet feed press for the production of the shells. With regards to the press itself, I would go for the Cantec End-O-Mat 50 tonnes press. An important consideration is that you feed the tinplate sheets through the press with the inside of the sheets upwards, avoiding damage of the inner coatings which can easily lead to corrosion later on. Moreover, the total construction is so robust that it will function for decades without any problem. Talking about the shell production, my second preference would be the press of Alfons Haar. This is perfect press for this purpose. The Naroska press would be my third choice.
Q: And what about the closures?
Whitecap opts for the forming of the closures in two operations, namely Hamming & Lugging. For the rest, Whitecap is trying out new machinery for these operations. Alfons Haar, Naroska, Cantec and also the Taiwanese suppliers form the closures in three steps- Pre-Curling, Curling and Lugging.
At this juncture I have to point out the very robust construction of the Cap-O-Mat, which is proven over 30 years. Regarding the Naroska forming unit, I would have to highlight the fact that it uses Spinning to do the various operations, so that the machine does in fact Spin Pre-Curling, Spin Curling and Lugging. This really means that the line swallows virtually anything. The forming operation is not sensitive for the phenomena of earing. Whitecap machinery has that property, whereas the Cantec and Alfons Haar machinery is not so forgiving at this point, in my opinion. If the diameter and the height relation of the closure become critical, you have to use high quality tinplate on these machines.
Q: Is there any other important criteria that needs to be considered?
The Cantec Twist Off line configuration is extremely compact and very space-efficient compared to all the other configurations. Looking at my experiences in many can plants and closure plants, the line layout is of crucial importance to obtain maximal efficiency. It is very striking that many machine suppliers often fully neglect that crucial factor. They have no idea that when you have a high capacity line that is 40 to 50 meters long and you are the operator for that line – you have to walk several kilometres daily.
Q: Is it easy to stay in control of the line?
It is almost impossible to stay in control of all that happens in the line. In fact, the operator should be facilitated and be enabled to keep the overview of the whole line or a certain part of it on a surface as small as possible, by getting all the important data about the production flow in a very accessible way. If necessary the operator must be able to intervene immediately in the line.
Q: How do you add value?
I think my added value has been an involvement in several projects giving advice in a very practical way, in particular with common sense items, based on my production experience in combination with a knowhow of the machinery and the processes.