How to Successfully Implement Dry Lubrication on Can Lines

cans on production line cans on production line
Nov 08, 2023

Product traffic on a high-speed, high-volume canning line experiences a variety of influences as it’s conveyed. Speed transitions, bends, mass accumulation, inclines and declines all affect throughput and can impact on OEE (overall equipment effectiveness). Water-based solutions are typically used on beverage processing and packaging lines to lubricate packaging conveyors and encourage cans to glide. But, they create hygiene issues, cause a safety hazard, and waste valuable water; all of which are driving the adoption of dry alternatives.


Successfully implementing dry lubrication on canning lines requires an understanding of friction control, optimal lubricant dosing and production demands.


Achieving Can Stability


The key to operating with dry lubrication is being able to manage conveyor friction and lubricity depending on the characteristics of each zone to manipulate product traffic between the high-value equipment assets. Typically, a zonal distribution system and a bespoke system design are required.


For example, on can lines with a double-deck pasteuriser, the cans are conveyed up an incline and down a decline. A coefficient of friction around 0.12 is required to ‘grip’ the base of the can to the conveyor belt to stop the cans from slipping down and causing a production jam or being damaged and lost to waste. In areas of mass accumulation, where lots of cans are bunched together, a low coefficient of friction (around 0.08) is required to reduce the pressure at the base of the can and avoid base scuffing and sidewall damage.


Avoiding over-lubricating is crucial. As well as resulting in production issues, it could cause a safety hazard if excess ends up on the floor. 


Managing Change


Moving to a new working environment requires support from the line operatives and change management tactics should be used throughout the project, from the design phase to post-commissioning. The dry environment is visually different when moving from a wet lubrication system. Where there used to be foam there should now only be a slight sheen to the conveyor belt and it is very common for operators to increase the lubricant dosage in an attempt to 'see it'. This will only result in over-lubrication and will cause problems.


Involving line operators by asking for their insight on the line and its idiosyncrasies will help to start a dialogue which could prove beneficial for shared problem-solving.   On-the-line training sessions should be given by a system engineer to explain the zoning dosing which will help to build trust in the technology and approach.


Maintaining Good Performance Post-commissioning


Maintaining consistent and effective conveyor lubrication performance is one of the most important, yet misunderstood, parts of operating an efficient packaging line. Over time, production schedules, people, SKUs and even the line layout will change. Failing to equate the lubrication system settings to the new demands can have a detrimental effect and result in a drop in OEE.


With DryFormance, the lubrication system, settings and performance are fully managed by a DryFormance representative. The Diversey team becomes an extension to in-house personnel, adding their depth of knowledge gained by years of working with various packaging lines in many different environments.  The team can provide insight, support and advice on line enhancements and efficiency improvements to help customers achieve their goals.


Reaping the Rewards


Implementing water-free conveyor lubrication technology on can packaging lines will deliver a variety of benefits, at both site and corporate level, against the Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) agenda. Find out more about the benefits of DryFormance.


Typical Benefits from Converting Can Lines to Dry Lubrication


Operators at mid to high volume brewers and beverage producers report immediate improvements on can line performance when operating with DryFormance. Most visible are the improvements in production hall safety and conveyor hygiene as floors are drier and biological growth is minimal. Operators also report improved can handling and reduced maintenance downtime. On lines where an alternative dry lubrication system has been unsuccessful in the past, DryFormance has exceeded expectations and performance criteria.


DryFormance Scope: Seamer outfeed to packer(s) infeed conveyors, typical annual savings:

  • Water consumption and waste-water treatment volume reduced by 2.5m litres
  • 15,000 kWh of energy saved
  • 7,500 litres of wet lube chemical saved
  • 75,000 reduction in fallen, wasted cans
  • 50 tonnes reduction in CO2 emissions


Using industry baseline data the Diversey Knowledge-based Services team can evaluate your packaging lines and calculate your expected savings in water, energy and CO2 emissions. Complete and submit the form below to inquire about a tailored savings report.