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Glaceau CC Canners

High-speed hot fill line pumps for SA’s Coca-Cola Canners

“The entire fruit juice and sports drinks segment is growing all over the world as health awareness increases among many consumers,” says Steve Nagiah, plant manager at Coca-Cola Canners. “It was decided to extend the company portfolio in order to develop this growth area in the long term.”

With its four canning and two PET lines, the production site in Wadeville just outside Johannesburg is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Working 24/7, the plant’s 320 employees make sure that around 350-million litres of near-water beverage Glacéau, sports beverage Powerade and the Coca-Cola, Sprite and Fanta brands leave the factory every year.

Hot fill, cold fill, aseptic fill?

Hot filling is a process of choice for many juices and beverages because it eliminates the need of preservatives and chemicals while maintaining the same level of shelf life and nutritional properties of the beverage.
With consumers becoming more aware of potential harmful effects of preservatives, hot filling is now the obvious choice as the process is rather simple and less complex compared to it’s alternatives.
Hot filling is generally suitable for fruit juices, vegetable juices, flavoured waters, and sports drinks that have a pH level of < 4.5.

Hot fill technology for hygienic bottling

Coca-Cola now bottles iced tea, sports drinks and juices, with and without fruit chunks, on the new line. Pulpy beverages could not previously be bottled on the two existing lines for PET bottles.

“The technology required for this is more sophisticated,” says Nagiah. “Following a carefully considered consultation process, Coca-Cola Canners decided to go for a system manufactured by our long-standing partner, KHS.

“Especially the hot fill technology for hygienic bottling, combined with an output of up to 48,000 bottles per hour, had management convinced”

“For this demanding project we developed a system which is precisely tailored to meet Coca-Cola’s specifications,” says Philipp Casparby, project manager for KHS Manufacturing (SA).

“Like other KHS block systems, the new line covers all stages in production from stretch blow molding through filling to labelling, packaging and palletising”

The key is in the detail, however; the line also processes fruit juices with a percentage of fruit pieces. These fruit chunks must not be damaged during filling; at the same time the low filling dosage tolerances must be adhered to.

KHS designed a line with two precision volumetric fillers, where the fruit pieces are first bottled with a little juice before the second filler tops up them up with the rest of the juice.

The entire filling process makes use of hot fill technology where the content is heated to over 100°C and then filled at a temperature of about 83°C. This makes sure that microorganisms are safely eliminated.

With the new line (pictured below) Coca-Cola Canners is able to fill up to 48,000 bottles per hour holding between 0.3 and 1.5 litres.

A happy Nagiah says following this success, the company recently ordered two more KHS packaging machines.