Category: Plant / Production

Getting a Handle on Sensitive Drinks

 

The health and wellness trend is in full swing across a number of industries and certainly on the beverage shelves as well. As more companies introduce drinks centered on nutrition and well being, the challenges on the production line have become more complicated. Products with pulp, fresh fruit ingredients and alternative natural sugars have all impacted the production process.
 
Answering the call for improved technology Sacmi is offering a new E (electronic) range of filling machines designed to offer its beverage customers more flexibility, increased hygiene and a boost in performance while handling an array of beverage products and packaging. 
 
The new range features models that range from 20 valves for large formats to 216 valves for small formats and, to date, it has sold 10 machines from the range, seven of which have already been installed, according to the company. 
 
This range of new filling models features mechanical improvements, electronic-volumetric and electronic technology as well as isobaric and cold or hot filling capabilities, with or without contact, for products that are still or sparkling that do or don’t have pulp. The filling machines can handle glass, plastic and aluminum containters.
 
On the flexibility front the range now includes an electronic level-based filling machine for glass containers, a wide-cannula machine for PET containers (particularly recommended for beer filling applications) and an electronic machine for cans, the company says. There are also modular advantages, for example, where the same machine can level-fill glass bottle and volume-fill PET bottles. 
 
When dealing with sensitive ingredients in beverages, being able to clean machines is a high priority. To wash the rotating machine turret the fluid is distributed via hoses, explains the company, and the only tank in the system is floor mounted, outside the turret, and has the function of receiving the liquid from the feed system. This tank is washed with a spray ball to minimize the consumption of chemical wash products, which also minimizes product loss at the start and end of production.
 
Further, the machine is structurally designed to prevent stagnation of liquids—upper surfaces of the bases are slanted and guards are floor mounted and made of safety glass and stainless steel. 
 
With regard to performance, Sacmi reports that results show a reduction in format and product changeover times with relative maximization of effective machine output times.
 
According to Krones, beverages with fruit bits in them are considered the drivers in the future growth of the fruit juice category globally. When Coca-Cola HBC Eurasia decided to begin producing one of the company’s billion-dollar brands, Pulpy, in Russia, it turned to Krones to handle the challenge of filling a juice with fruit bits. In the bottler’s Istra plant, located to the north west of Moscow, an inline blending with aseptic filling technology was used. Today, the plant has five Krones lines operating.
 
As with filling any beverage with fruit particles, it’s of the utmost importance that the integrity of the fruit is preserved. Inline blending allows for the pulp and juice to be aseptically prepared separately and then later bottled together. In this case, Coca-Cola HBC Eurasia already possessed three aseptic bottling lines from Krones, which were used for this process and integrated with filling techology that was modified to fit the requirements for Pulpy. 
 
Coca-Cola HBC Eurasia has dedicated one line solely for bottling Pulpy Orange in 0.45-litre containers at a speed of 42,000 bph. Two more Pulpy products are set to follow in 2013, according to the company.
 
The Kofola Group, one of the major producers of non-alcohol beverages in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Russia, faced a similar obstacle when filling various fruit beverages in its portfolio containing pieces of fruit and fibers including its Snipp aloe vera beverage, and the Jupi, Jupik, and Pickwick brands. It opted for a KHS hot fill line to fill its drinks in four different-sized PET containers—0.2, 0.33, 0.5, and 0.7-liters.
 
KHS’ Innofill NV-H filling system is designed specifically to handle beverages with solids up to 10mm3 and was installed in Kofola’s Mnichovo Hradiste site near Prague in the Czech Republic last year. The Innofill NV-H fills the hot liquid phase into the PET bottles using free-flow, non-contact filling, giving maximum microbiological safety.
 
The filling process separates the solids phase from the liquid phase, explains KHS, meaning that liquid is treated first and then separately the fruit chunks are treated and then later added to the liquid via a rotary piston pump that allows for gentle handling of the fruit to ensure its quality and taste translate into the finished product. It also ensures that equal amounts of fruit are distributed.  
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