With roots in the Niagara region for more than 140 years, Arterra Wines Canada is now the country’s largest wine company, with 100 wine brands. Likewise, its Niagara Falls winery is the largest countrywide.
As expected, the company uses plenty of bottles. Indeed, the main production line at Arterra’s Niagara Falls facility can fill and cap up to 200 bottles per minute when operations are going well.
Most modern products get capped with a ROPP (Roll-On-Pilfer-Proof) aluminum cap, says Arterra project engineer James Stokes.
“These fresh, undeformed caps are added to the bottle immediately after filling and then rolled to take the shape of the bottle (top form, threads, and tuck) by the capping machine.”
Sometimes, however, the caps do not go on smoothly, get damaged, or “spin” or “slip off” when removed instead of breaking at the designated perforations. These defects, says Stokes, are usually a result of one of three factors: The machine, the cap or the glass bottle.
Arterra was interested in exploring the glass bottle after experiencing variations when caps were applied on the bottling line. While the variations were minor enough not to be seen with the naked eye, it also makes things difficult to measure, explains Stokes.
The company had specs and drawings for the closure geometry on the top of the bottle, however needed an independent assessment to establish if the suspect bottles were out of tolerance.
Arterra engaged with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre’s (WAMIC) Technology Access Centre (TAC) for their technology and expertise to perform the measurement and generate a deviation report.
“WAMIC was engaged due to their ability to 3D scan in great detail the features of the glass bottle, comparing the bottle to the design drawings,” says Stokes. “This would allow Arterra to better understand the variability of the glass and rule out the bottle during this particular quality issue.”
“Through the Centre, we had access to modern technology we had not used before, and most of our team was not even aware of. It was local, quick and affordable.”
~ James Stokes, project engineer, Arterra Wines Canada
Inside the WAMIC research lab, the FARO EDGE ScanArm, in conjunction with Polyworks Inspect alongside Autodesk Inventor, was used to 3D scan the necks of the suspect bottles, says Dave McKechnie, research laboratory technologist and expert in the specialized software.
“I used Inventor to model the nominal – or ideally perfect – bottleneck from engineered detail drawings provided by Arterra,” explains McKechnie. “This gave us a theoretically perfect reference to which we could compare the scanned bottlenecks against.”
The scans were superimposed onto the nominal model, and a colourized surface deviation map was generated with a tolerance-colour scale directly on the surface of the model. The purpose, says McKechnie, was to highlight areas that are high or low on the scanned bottles’ surface compared to the nominal bottle surface.
These maps offered Arterra’s team an understanding of the differences between bottles, and around the circumference of a single bottle, on several key dimensions, impacting the closure application.
While WAMIC’s results from the study concluded the glass bottles to be consistent with the nominal model, it was an essential elimination of a possible cause from Arterra’s investigation.
“We at Arterra found the process of working with WAMIC to be quite beneficial. The staff were easy to deal with, extremely knowledgeable and competent,” adds Stokes. “Through the Centre, we had access to modern technology we had not used before, and most of our team was not even aware of. It was local, quick and affordable.”
This project was made possible through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) – Interactive Visits, which provides up to 20 hours of access to the equipment, facilities, and expertise of a Technology Access Centre to solve a specific business or technical challenge.
This is one example of the types of technical services offered by the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at Niagara College. To discover other resources and capabilities, visit the website.