Added value in empties management thanks to modern technologies

Published on in Food Retail, Sustainability, Technology, Trends
3 minutes reading time
Article contains videos

Food retail uses a variety of reusables for transporting and storing fresh food, and for presenting it on supermarket shelves. These receptacles are used over and over for ecological reasons. Reusables are also steadily on the rise in the beverage industry. Bottles and beverage crates must be cleaned and made ready for re-use as quickly and resource-efficiently as possible. This trend is bringing higher volumes, and this is where RMS, our solution for successful empties management, really steps up.

The trend is clearly moving towards reusables. Handling the increased volumes is a real challenge for us.

Portrait Manuel Praxmerer, Cleanaway Österreich GmbH, Geschäftsführer, RMS, Food Retail
Manuel Praxmarer
Managing Director, Cleanaway Österreich

Empties management adds value

The producer or manufacturer fills various reusables with fresh food and beverages, which are then distributed to retailers for sale. After use, the points of sale return the unsorted reusables. Consumers pay a deposit for reusable bottles and crates when they buy the product. After they have enjoyed their beverage, they return the empties to the retailer and get back their deposit. This is where the bottles’ trip through an empties sorting system starts.

We have now been working closely with KNAPP for more than 20 years. For new projects, we collaborate to develop innovative and sustainable solutions.

Manuel Praxmarer
Managing Director, Cleanaway Österreich

Many happy returns with empties

Cleanaway, our customer and partner of many years, uses our RMS solution at ten locations. The reusables processed there are beverage crates, totes for meat and meat products, foldable crates and special handling units. Unsorted empties are processed and sorted by type for re-use very quickly using our modern technologies.

The highlights of our solution at Cleanaway

  • Automatic deposit value recognition system
  • Automatic logo recognition systems
  • Sorting lanes for beverage crates and foldable crates
  • Fully automatic destacker for meat totes
  • KiSoft RCS (Reusables Control System)
  • KiSoft Transport
  • KiSoft Command

Our semi-automatic solutions separate handling units automatically and provide empties as unmixed stacks for further use. The system really takes the strain off the team. Cutting-edge image recognition technologies mean that the exact deposit values are booked for each store. At the heart of our solution is the handling unit management software KiSoft RCS (Reusables Control System). It coordinates complex material flows in the background, manages the empties and books them quickly by store.

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Close-up picture of a Cleanaway employee scanning a ticket at a terminal for booking according to store. This is how empties receiving starts. There are unsorted empties in the background that will soon be placed on the conveyor system.
To start with, empties are scanned for booking according to stores.

Our empties solution deals with booking deposit values and sorting reusable handling units. The design is modular and scalable, and the degree of automation is perfectly tailored to the customer’s requirements.

Florian Nickmann
Head of Engineering and empties management expert, KNAPP Systemintegration

Pioneering technologies for successful empties management

Cutting-edge machines identify crates and bottles, recognizing their deposit value. The data is centrally logged in our warehouse management system. This ensures end-to-end material flow tracking and transparent processes. The credit for the empty handling units is booked by store fully automatically.

Our detection machines sort the handling units by type. They capture the manufacturer logo in a split second, defining which sorting lane the empties belong in. The empties arrive at a convenient height for the employees to manually stack them on unmixed pallets.

The recognition rate is nearly 100 %. The system learns new logos really quickly, and the error rate is kept optimally low. For beverage crates, sensitive sensors can detect how many bottles there are in a crate. A camera system detects handling units that were not recognized or that are damaged. These are sorted manually afterwards.

Inside view of a deposit value recognition machine. A “Vöslauer” water crate passes through the machine. The image shows a picture being taken of this crate.
Innovative recognition systems identify the empties and allow exact deposit crediting.
The image shows a logo recognition machine with a monitor. Various beverage crates are being conveyed into the machine on a conveyor.
Logo recognition systems register the handling units fully automatically and determine the sorting lane it belongs in.

Automated destacking and sorting

Apart from beverage crates and folding crates, the Cleanaway sorting systems also processes totes for storing and transporting meat and meat products. A fully automatic destacking machine separates them for further processing.

Front view of a fully automatic destacking machine that separates totes for meat and meat products. The tote stacks are transported to the machine on the conveyor system. Clamps grip the totes and separate them. The totes are placed on the conveyor system one by one and move on for further processing.
Totes for meat and meat products are separated fully automatically in a destacking machine.

Ergonomically designed sorting lanes for creating unmixed stacks

Rotating pushers divert the beverage crates and foldable crates to the pre-defined sorting lanes. The empties arrive at a convenient height for the employees to manually stack them, forming unmixed pallets. When the process is complete, the sorted pallets are ready for pickup in goods-out at Cleanaway, ready for re-use.

Front view of a sorting lane. The empty handling units are conveyed to the sorting lanes, where an employee takes the reusables from the conveyor and stacks them on unmixed pallets behind them. This image shows several beverage crates arriving at the work station, at a perfect height for the male employee to pick up.
Employees take the empties off the ergonomically designed sorting lanes and position them on pallets.
Front view of a large number of sorted beverage crates stacked on pallets. When our empties solution is done, the sorted handling units are ready for the manufacturers and producers to pick up.
The empties are sorted and ready for pick-up.
3 minutes reading time
Article contains videos
Nina Firgo
Communications Food Retail Solutions
What trends are shaping food retail, and how are these trends affecting food logistics? Nina is tackling these topics for our blog and writes about the freshest solutions for the grocery sector.

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Additional Information

Would you like more information on our empties solution? We’d love to hear from you at ksi.sales@knapp.com.