Non-stop production of Heineken export cans in south Holland Every day and all day long a steady stream of trucks delivers tin plate sheet by the ton to a factory at Oss in southern Holland. And as they offload, even more trucks leave the factory in an equally constant flow, carrying consignments of tin cans in a variety of brightly coloured commercial liveries to all parts of the Benelux countries. The cans serve a host of packaging pur poses. There are cans for packing meat, milk powder, soup, pet food; cans with lids for paints, oils and greases; and of course cans for beverages, of which a large percentage - some 120 million a year - go to Heineken to be filled with beer. Thomassen Drijver - Verblifa N.V. (TDV), established some 60 years ago at Deventer, East Holland, is today the lar gest packing industry in the Benelux countries. For the past ten years it has for med part of the Continental Can Company, New York. The two-piece type of can TDV produces for beverage manufacture comprises a small tin tube with separate aluminium lid incorporating a ring-pull opener. It is comparatively new, having entered pro duction in 1971but has quickly achieved popularity. Coiled metal Supplies of tin plate for can manufacture come mainly from Dutch steel mills at the port of IJmuiden west of Amsterdam. The metal leaves the mills in huge coils, each weighing between eight and 10 tons, which are cut into sheets at other plants be fore reaching Oss. The quantities handled by this single unit in Europe's metal packaging industries give an indication scale of the modem beverage suppliers. Each tmck bringing tin plate carries some 12000 sheets of the metal, a product of two of the original coilsEach sheet provides enough metal for 42 cans, so that two stillages containing 3000 sheets represents a total of 126,000 cans or one truckload of the finished pro- 6 duct. To cope with the required output Oss oper ates three shifts covering 24 hours daily throughout the working week. Four pro duction lines are devoted to two-piece cans. Draw and ironing process Heineken can manufacture begins with the tin plate sheets being stamped into 42 flat circles of metal which are then formed in to a kind of wide, shallow cup. the second drawing operation reduces the diameter of the cup and raises the circular "wall" to about half its finished height. In the iron ing press the punch transforms the embry onic can into tube configuration, the cir cular wall now only 0.1 mm thick, the bot tom - convex inside - rather more robust at 0.3 mm. Another machine cuts the tube to precise can height and the container is al most ready for paintwork. But first it has to be degreased, for during the 'cupping' and "wall-ironing" that have brought it to its present shape it has been covered in a lubricant. After degreasing by a special solvent the cans are ready for the first stage of paint ing - the application of a \yhite base coat by a base coating machine. There are four such machines, one for each production line, and each covers the outsides of cans between 800 and 900 a minute. But before coating begins the cans move forward to form a pool of identical containers which can be routed to any of the coaters. This mass-handling phase is a relatively new production technique in which TDV was the first company to experiment. It invol ves the use of-wider conveyors travelling at lower speeds. The reduced flow rate is "kinder" to the cans and also facilitates switching the direction of the conveyor when necessary. The slowly moving pool of cans resembles nothing so much as a well-behaved crowd on its way perhaps to a football match. Their assembly in this docile concourse facilitates their being fed to any of the four coaters - a degree of flex ibility that pays off on occasions such as, for example, the temporary suspension of a machine for servicing on re-charging with lacquer. In this case the cans headed off from the closed outlet can be seen shuf fling back to other routes still accepting candidates for lacquer treatment. The overall visual effect of streams of cans constantly leaving the central reservoir has given rise to the aptly descriptive term - the "sponge" system. Industrial miracle From this point on the visitor becomes more and more aware of witnessing one of those marvels of modern automation de veloped in the service of the consumer in dustries, an industrial miracle that rapidly transforms flat tin plate sheet into thou sands of finished cans in their various brand colour schemes. The dominant impression that lingers in the mind is of cans being conveyed in all directions, horizontally, vertically, in curved diagonals, turning corners, pas sing overhead, a multi-stream cavalcade, an organized chaos that when viewed with the protection of earplugs (supplied at the start of the tour) has an eerie, silent film quality but which, for the curious visitor who listens momentarily, reveals itself as being accompanied by the jostling clatter of metal on metal and the clangour of pro duction machinery. A quick double-take. Surely those Heine ken cans passing overhead are hanging up side down on the lower belt of a conveyor! And those climbing vertically are sticking straight out from the conveyor belts with out visible means of support! How is it Tin plate sheet into beverage containers Tin Heineken can! Continued on page 9

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Heineken Contact | 1980 | | pagina 6