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Success in the Himalayas

Success in the Himalayas Climbing the tops of Himalayan Mountains is a thrilling experience. The elevation at Mount Everest’s base camp is about 5,200 meters. The oxygen content is just half what it is at sea level, making even breathing difficult. If you plan on lingering here, you should go through high-altitude training ahead of time. Otherwise, you face a serious risk of coming down with ‘altitude sickness’. You would expect to run into mountain climbers in this part of the world, but you’ll be surprised to meet the employees of Krones, a leading maker of filling and packaging technology, who occasionally spend time at these high altitudes. MACHINE ELEMENTS few years ago, specialists from the company headquartered in A Neutraubling, Germany, installed a complete beverage bottling facility in a high mountain valley not far from Llasa, Tibet’s capital. PET bottles are manufactured there, filled with mineral water from glacial springs, labeled and shipped throughout the world. Today, Krones employees handle service and system maintenance. “The stretch-blow-molding machine used to produce the PET bottles at the facility is the highest in the world,” said Danuta Kessler-Zieroth, Head of Press Relations at Krones AG. “The extremely low atmospheric pressure up there is not just hard on people, it was a challenge for our development work as well.” For example, in the Himalayan highlands, a machine designed for pressures at sea level cannot deliver enough pressure to completely blow-mold PET bottles and press them into the mold. Moreover, the facility’s touchscreen operating panels were actually designed for altitudes up to 3,000 meters. Another issue is the bottle design that Krones developed in concert with the beverage producer. The mineral water bottles are intended for export, so they should not be deformed when shipped to lower-elevation regions of the world. That means the containers must be configured to compensate for the forces resulting from pressure differences with defined deformation. Becoming a global company through innovation “Our innovation potential today is evidenced by our more than 3,730 registered patents and utility models,” explains Kessler-Zieroth. Since its foundation in 1951, Krones has developed far beyond classic machine and facility design. “We are able to implement projects like the one in Tibet because Krones offers the complete process chain for beverage production from a single source. We can build a complete turnkey factory on a green field,” she says. This starts with the planning of the manufacturing spaces and supply areas and extends to actual equipment production, related processing technology and in-house logistics, all the way to IT services spanning the entire factory. For example, the hardware and software solutions for data processing cover the operation of the WORLD OF INDUSTRIESMOTION, DRIVE & AUTOMATION 1/2017

equipment, diagnostics to check technologies and monitor processes, and intralogistics with inventory management, material flow controls, and yard management. And, of course, the maintenance and modernization of the facilities are part of the service package. About Freudenberg Sealing Technologies Freudenberg is one the leading companies in the world in the areas of sealing technology. The company has sales revenues of over € 2 billion and employees more than 15,000 people. Its products and services are used in wide range of applications in areas of automotive, civil aviation, mechanical engineering, food and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and construction machinery. High quality requirements The food industry also has its own, extremely stringent quality requirements for production facilities and processes. For example, the various parameters such as mixing processes, filling and packaging must be monitored during the entire operation. Facilities and machinery must meet strict hygienic standards and may not discharge impurities that could reach the foodstuff at any point in their lifetimes. “At our company, quality begins right at the machinery’s development to guarantee maximum process reliability,” says Kessler-Zieroth. An important cornerstone is Krones’ vertical integration, which is unusually extensive compared to the competition. For example, its Evoguard subsidiary was established in 2011 for the development, design and production of valves and pumps. Details of safe manufacturing operation are considered alongside the requirements of hygienic design. Close cooperation with Freudenberg Seals are the most important aspect of any valve. Early in the design phase, the Evoguard development team works closely with experts from Freudenberg Sealing Technologies to identify the optimal design in combination with the right material for the particular seal. At the same time, Freudenberg supports Evoguard in both the layout and design of the seals and with material-related know-how. Freudenberg Sealing Technologies’ current product portfolio has about 1,800 “active” rubber compounds that have been ordered at least once a year, the largest portion of them as exclusive special mixtures produced in-house. Evoguard also makes use of Freudenberg’s materials expertise for damage analyses in the event of valve and pump failures in customer operation. Freudenberg’s experts then investigate the reason for the failure and propose solutions to the problem. The two companies’ successful partnership dates back to Evoguard’s very beginnings. Its first valve product portfolio, introduced in 2011, was equipped with radial shaft and butterfly-valve seals from Freudenberg Sealing Technologies. “At the time, we went all out to develop the seals so we could display our production-ready valve lineup on schedule at trade fairs and exhibitions,” recalls Willi Wiedenmann, Sales and Product Management at Evoguard. Another result of this close cooperation is the use of seals made of Fluoroprene XP instead of the usual EPDM in Evoguard valves. This premium material is recommended for high stability, its suitability for hot-steam sterilization and its low risk of flavor transfer from one food product to the next. Among other products, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies supplies Krones’ Evoguard subsidiary with shaft seals, seat gaskets and an entire series of O-rings and butterfly-valve seals of the highest quality. Photographs: Freudenberg sealing technologies WORLD OF INDUSTRIESMOTION, DRIVE & AUTOMATION 1/2017


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