Tapping into 3D printing

24 June 2019

Heineken is using cost-effective 3D printers to produce a variety of custom tools and functional machine parts that aid in manufacturing and improve worker safety at the company’s Spanish operations in Seville

Heineken’s Seville brewery in Spain produces several brands of Heineken owned beers, with its annual output amounting to 500 million litres of beer.

Engineers at this plant have been utilising 3D printing for about one year, first using the Ultimaker 2+ and now multiple Ultimaker S5 printers, in order to design and print safety devices, tools and parts on-demand rather than outsourcing the job to external vendors. This has increased production uptime and saved around 80% in production costs on the parts they 3D print.

“We’re still in the first stages of 3D printing, but we’ve already seen a reduction of costs in the applications that we found by 70% to 90%, and also a decrease of delivery time of these applications of 70% to 90%,” says Isabelle Haenen, global supply chain procurement buyer at Heineken.

“Local manufacturing helps us a lot in increasing uptime, efficiency and output. We use 3D printing to optimise the manufacturing line, create maintenance and quality control tools, and create tools for our machines which help us increase safety for our people. I think there will be even more purposes in the future,” she adds.

The 3D printing technology was first used for safety applications, but engineers quickly learned they could save time and money by creating custom optimised functional parts for machines from the manufacturing line. Use cases now include:

Increasing line uptime

Heineken 3D prints functional parts for its machines. These are parts that traditionally wear out and can break. By printing the spare parts on-demand, the company saves money while avoiding operational downtime because there is no need to have an inventory and no need to wait for part deliveries.

Optimising part designs

The team at Heineken was able to replace various redesigned parts with an optimised design. For example, a metal part that is used with the quality sensor on the conveyor belt would often knock bottles over, creating a blockage, or eject good bottles onto the ground. The redesigned part prevents this from happening.

Tools for quality & maintenance

Heineken has also created completely new tools that make it easier for engineers to perform maintenance tasks or to check the quality of products or machines. These tools help prevent machines from malfunctioning or breaking down completely.

Operator safety solutions

In order to keep its workers as safe as possible, Heineken has also looked for ways to make smart, 3D-printed tools that prevent accidents. For example, the company has printed improved locking mechanisms for machines, so they cannot start to operate during maintenance.
ultimaker.com

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