Drinks technology innovation under the spotlight

In-person at Anuga FoodTec and and Ipack Ima

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new beverages new packaging
New drinks displayed on the Krones stat at Anuga Foodtec Photo Dominique Huret

Deprived of fairs and exhibitions in the last two years, the European drinks equipment producers were noticeably impatient. Lots of innovation to show to visitors and customers. Dominique Huret from Cape Decision in Brussels was at Anuga FoodTec, then at Ipack Ima, where she met some of the important players in the drink market. Here are some of their latest innovations.

Global packaging solutions provider Sidel

Sidel shows new products produced on is Combi line Photo Dominique Huret
Sidel shows new products produced on is Combi line
Photo Dominique Huret

Sidel was keen to talk about its Combi solutions for light-weighted rPET edible oil bottles. This project is a combination of two forms of technological expertise with Sidel and Serac working together to integrate their renowned equipment and engineering expertise. Working in partnership, Sidel provided blowing and Serac filling and capping capabilities. The new Combis are high-speed blow-fill-cap machines, where the heating and blowing technologies ensure consistency in bottle integrity. 

The new Sidel Combi high-speed blow-fill-cap machines, where the heating and blowing technologies ensure consistency in bottle integrity. Photo Sidel
The new Sidel Combi high-speed blow-fill-cap machines, where the heating and blowing technologies ensure consistency in bottle integrity. Photo Sidel

This technological change has improved not only quality but also ergonomics, using very little floor space with the removal of conveyors and walkways. In addition, for filling – the grip of the bottleneck is adjustable, making format changeovers easier. The weight filling technology is most accurate for edible oil as it is insensitive to production aeration and temperature variation. For a 1000 g bottle, a maximum 0.5g deviation is delivered thanks to permanent weight control, detecting abnormalities of filling.

Supported by Sidel and Serac’s on-site technicians, the multi-million-euro modernization of Lesieur’s Coudekerque (Northern France) bottling facility centered on the installation of three Combis with blowing, filling, and capping functions for edible oils. Lesieur can now produce light-weighted bottles with up to 100% recycled PET (rPET), enhancing both its customer proposition and sustainability credentials. This was achieved by reducing the weight of its preforms, producing bottles between 16-18 grams This solution can produce 0.5 or 1-liter formats up to 2 and 3 liters at speeds ranging from 15,000 bottles per hour (BPH) up to 30,000 BPH.

Plant-based beverages

Plant-based drinks are currently one of the most promising beverage categories in the European and North American markets. Germany’s Krones, a process technology solutions provider has worked on three line concepts for producing oat-based drinks with its two subsidiaries Milkron and Steinecker. This effective trio has worked together to offer three process variants of plant-based beverages.

Krones complete beverage line Image Krones
Krones complete beverage line
Image Krones

Variant one is suitable for beverage manufacturers who already own a syrup room and would initially like to test the production of grain-based drinks for themselves and their brand. The raw material used in this process is a ready-to-use oat base. During production it gets mixed with water, the blending takes place and some additives have to be added.

When it comes to producing medium-sized quantities of oat drinks quickly and reliably, ready-to-use oatmeal, which has to be mixed with water and enzymes, is the best basis. The enzymes have a big advantage, as it is possible to directly control the sweetness of the oat drink – and this without adding any artificial sugars. In the next steps, the hydrolysis and the solid-liquid separation take place before adding additives. Variant three has whole oat grains or flakes as the raw material. The difference between variant two is, that beverage producers have to mill the grains or flakes before processing them further.

KHS InnoPET BloFill ACF-L stretch blow molder and filler

KHS is also working on equipment for the filling of sensitive beverages in a hygienic environment with its InnoPET BloFill ACF-L stretch blow molder and filler. But its extensive portfolio of environmentally-friendly systems for various container designs and materials has attracted industry attention.

Innopack's CNP turns cans into stable pack Photo Dominique Huret
Innopack’s CNP turns cans into stable pack Photo Dominique Huret

The German company is also consistently working to save on resources and use a higher percentage of recycled materials in place of new ones. A film made of up to 100% recyclate can now be used to wrap containers, as can paper or cardboard. The newly developed Innopack CNP or Carton Nature Packer turns beverage cans into stable packs using toppers or clips made of corrugated cardboard or solid board. Packs of four, six, or eight standard and sleek can formats holding between 250 and 580 milliliters can be produced at an output of up to 108,000 containers per hour. 

Sample results of the Nature MulitPack joint project with Martens Brewery Photo KHS
Sample results of the Nature MulitPack joint project with Martens Brewery
Photo KHS

Another packaging alternative is Nature MultiPack. This system joins beverage containers together with dots of adhesive to form a stable pack and saves up to 90% in materials by doing away with the secondary packaging. Nature MultiPack is now also available for the high-performance range, with throughputs of up to 108,000 containers per hour possible when running at overcapacity. Depending on the format, the machine manufactures up to 450 packs of four a minute. 

More sustainable options

Outside PET bottles, other drinks packaging manufacturers are also searching hard for sustainable options. Carlsberg/Paboco just announced the consumer testing of its fiber bottle 3.O in eight countries. Following the successful completion of a 15-month commercial technology validation of a polymer-based barrier replacing the aluminum layer, Tetra Pak is now moving to the next level of development – testing a fiber-based barrier that is a first within food carton packages distributed under ambient conditions. Coming up in September is the major Drinktec fair. The big industry players are reserving more surprises for the Munich show. We will keep you posted!

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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