validus management consultancy UK

Food & Drinks Case Study

UK brewer's bottling plant

Bottlenecks removed, throughput increased
Increased line OEE by 45%


The bottling plant within a major UK brewery


  • A beer bottling line had been commissioned for a substantial capital investment
  • Commissioning on the whole had gone well but the team were unable to get the line to achieve the required OEE to justify the investment.
  • The line was rated at 1200 bottles per minute but was only achieving 900 bpm
  • Several suppliers had been involved supplying their own equipment on the line. At this late stage politics and overtaken logic and no progress was being made
  • Goodwill from suppliers had now evaporated each blaming someone else's equipment


  • A small team was formed with the goal of improving the line performance
  • Carried out detailed analysis of the accumulation and line studies
  • Good areas of accumulation at the filling end - identified the packaging area as key bottleneck (packaging area consisted of a labeler, a multi-pack former, tray former and palletiser, each from a different supplier, with little accumulation between them).
  • Examined of a series of photo-eyes upstream and downstream of key equipment (looking for the presence of bottles on the line). Although these worked correctly, the short conveyor spaces between key units resulted in a loss of synchronisation between units when problems occurred. As a consequence individual units went into a series of ‘stopping and starting’. This had major impact on line performance and caused additional reliability issues.
  • The team subsequently re-wrote the line balancing logic and moved the positioning of some of the photo-eye sensors.


  • Majority of issues cleared
  • Packaging no longer bottleneck area
  • Line speed was returned to 1200bpm.
  • Capital expenditure was justified.