Butagaz becomes first-mover with upgraded filling carrousel

Customer

Our solution

The outcome

Scope of supply

At their filling plant in Aubigny (France), Butagaz are running something of a unique operation: a carrousel customised for square gas bottles. They use specialised equipment to fill these cubic bottles, but having been in operation since 1998, these old filling machines were starting to pose a problem. Butagaz reached out to MAKEEN Energy, requesting a replacement with the newly developed, green-coloured MAKEEN product line. That was how, in 2023, Butagaz became the owners of the very first carrousel-mounted MAKEEN Energy filling machines.

Photo of a filling carousel in France

We usually get our LPG in a round container – that’s why we call them cylinders. The cubic LPG bottles being filled in Butagaz’ LPG cylinders are a rarity, and so are the filling machines handling them. The unusual shape requires a special centering device on each filling machine to ensure that the bottle is positioned correctly for the filling head to attach securely to the valve.

The original 28 machines on Butagaz’ carrousel were delivered in 1998 and belonged to one of the first generations of electronic filling scales. Made by the French company PAM, which is today a part of MAKEEN Energy, these machines turned out to be exceedingly heavy for the carrousel frame. Most filling machines today weigh around 80 kg (176 lbs), but the older machines combined with the special centering devices brought the weight of each filling scale on the carrousel up to roughly 170 kg (375 lbs). Multiplied by 28, this load was proving to be too much for the carrousel’s frame and had started leading to increasingly frequent breakdowns.

A partnership in development

At the end of 2022, Butagaz contacted us to inquire about the possibility of replacing their filling scales with something lighter and more modern. They knew about the recently released MAKEEN line of LPG filling equipment and were highly interested in the increased reliability and precision that it offered. However, with the equipment being so new, we did not have any existing cases of MAKEEN machines running on a customer carrousel – and definitely not for square bottles. Therefore, the project presented an opportunity to both test the new machines in a real-world setting and demonstrate the performance of the latest in LPG filling technology.

We made a prototype of a MAKEEN filling machine for square bottles, with a specially designed centering device. The new machines weigh around 100 kg (220 lbs), which is light enough to not overload the carrousel frame. We installed the prototype in March 2023 and spent the following months making tests and adjustments before starting manufacturing of the remaining machines in May. Finally, the entire carrousel was installed and began operations in early 2024.

Modernisation benefits

The initial experience with the new MAKEEN filling machines has been a success. Not only are they lighter, but the higher level of technology means that Butagaz can fill their LPG bottles with a greater degree of precision than before, leading to more efficient production and higher profitability. In addition, the new machines come with a nitrogen purging system that eliminates gas slip from the valves when the filling head disconnects.

Since this was a very important project, not just for the customer but for our own product development, we have followed the equipment closely during and after installation. Staff from our Research & Development (R&D) department in Denmark visited Butagaz’ site multiple times to check up on the performance and collect valuable data for further development.

Since the updated carrousel came into operation, the reports from Butagaz have been highly positive. The production has become much more stable, due to the reduced weight of the filling scales, and the added benefits from the new technology will help them for years to come.

All hands on deck

Finding the right solution for the Aubigny project brought together people from many different parts of our global team. The mechanical parts were developed in the MAKEEN Energy Technology Centre (METC) in France. The load cell and controller units came from R&D in Denmark. The parts were produced in the MAKEEN Energy Production Centre in Sri Lanka, and the activities were coordinated by our Project Managers in MAKEEN Energy France. R&D and METC also collaborated to develop the centering device to fit Butagaz’ square cylinders. All in all, an excellent team effort.

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