Fully automatic empties sorting

The trend toward more sustainable use of resources is impacting the beverage industry. Here, the solution is a highly automated sorting system that rapidly processes empty crates and bottles in preparation for refilling. LLS’s installation in Hamm, Germany, features such a sorting system. The empties management solution developed by LLS, LOGIPACK and KNAPP makes it possible to handle all types of empties at a single location with fully automatic sortation.

Integrating all flows of empties
All the empty crates and bottles come together at the sorting plant in Hamm. The RMS solution sorts them fully automatically.
Fully automatic empties management
The stars of the solution in Hamm are the fully automatic processes that take place during depalletizing, recognition, in-depth sorting and palletizing.

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An Innovative Alliance for Effective Empties Management

Combining the know-how of LOGIPACK and LLS with our Reusables Management Solutions (RMS) creates an economical system that benefits bottlers, food retailers as well as wholesalers in the beverage industry. The system keeps the number of empty crates at the end of sorting to a minimum and increases sorting precision, performance and throughput thanks to the high level of automation.

KNAPP, LLS and LOGIPACK’s business models complement each other perfectly. Our innovative alliance drives the development of Germany’s reusables system.

Torsten Hiller
Managing Director of the LOGIPACK group
Empty crates kept to a minimum
Optimization of in-depth sorting keeps the number of empty crates at the end of sorting to a minimum.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
The AI performs ongoing analysis of the composition of the empties and optimizes future sorting processes based on this data.
Green added value
The eco-friendly solution makes it possible to efficiently process and sort the increasing number of reusable crates.
Performance and throughput
Our fully automatic empties solution increases performance and quality significantly compared to manual processes.

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We’re planning and developing and introducing similar concepts in other LOGIPACK centers based on our experiences with the innovative concept in Hamm.

Torsten Hiller
Managing Director of the LOGIPACK group

A one-of-a-kind solution

Our Reusables Management Solutions (RMS) make it possible to handle all types of empties at a single location with fully automatic sortation. This ensures that the empties are quickly ready for reuse in unmixed units. This is how we complete the circle in the food industry, making the return of reusables efficient, economical and practical.


million bottles per year


crates per hour

bottle-sorting robot

crates per hour

tray repacking robot

crates per hour

depalletizing/palletizing robot

The highlights of our solution

The integrated software tells the system exactly which crates are needed to optimize the sorting process and requests them accordingly at goods-in. Once fed into the system, the automatic pallet recognition checks if the pallet is the correct one and the depalletizing robot unloads the crates. Then they are run through a recognition system, which registers both the crates and the bottles they contain in just a few seconds. Based on this information, the recognition system – the brain of the solution – chooses one of three paths.

  • Bottle-sorting robot
  • Tray repacking robot
  • Detection and check systems for robot control
  • De- and Palletizing robot
Goods-in area

From the time of recognition, we always know where each bottle is and in which crate.

Sven Welker
Managing Director of der Leergut Logistik Services GmbH

Fully automatic single bottle sorting

Unsorted empties are brought to the heart of the solution: the bottle-sorting robot. It automatically removes single bottles and places them in the correct crates based on the data collected by the recognition system, optimizing the movement of crates and minimizing the number of empty crates that exit sorting. At the end of in-depth sorting, the empties leave the robot in unmixed crates.

Fully automatic single bottle sorting
The bottle-sorting robot is a technological highlight that carries out in-depth sorting fully automatically.
Manual crate sorting in Hamm.
Manual crate sorting takes place to removal foreign bodies and bottles that are not suitable for deep-sorting.

Manual crate sorting

Crates that could not be recognized by the recognition system or are not intended to be automatically sorted are instead automatically brought to a manual sorting area. After processing, these empties are returned to the main sorting system.

Checking for uniformity

All crates containing sorted empties from goods-in or sorting are then brought to a control system that checks for uniform content in the crate. At the end of the process, the palletizing robot retrieves the sorted empties and places them on pallets. The one-of-a-kind, fully automatic process rapidly fills the reusable crates with unmixed empties, which are then ready for refilling.

The recognition systems identify and save data on the empties.
The recognition systems are the brains of the empties solution in Hamm.
The repacking robot is part of the solution at the sorting center in Hamm.
A class of its own: The repacking robot fills empty crates with empties from trays.

Repacking robot fills empty crates with empties from trays

A repacking robot completes the unique system. It processes LOGIPACK’s empties on trays completely automatically. The robot removes single bottles from the trays and places them in the empty crates from the upstream sorting process. The system then returns the filled, unmixed crates to the sorting process to be stacked on pallets.

Fully automatic empties sorting, LOGIPACK, LLS, RMS Hamm
One robot can handle two processes: The depalletizing/palletizing robot destacks empty crates in the goods-in area and creates unmixed stacks at the end.

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