Trends in production, bottling and packaging
Process technology for beer
The use of raw materials will be a central theme of drinktec 2013 in two respects. This prediction comes from Professor Martin Krottenthaler from the Weihenstephan Triesdorf University. He says, “Here, in the global market, the first matter of interest is the highest possible yield. The second is that the raw materials will become more variable. The central question is: where do I get the starch for brewing at low cost? And it doesn’t have to come from traditional raw materials, if, perhaps, logistical costs are rising, or the competition is growing, or because of the arable areas. This directly influences the machine technology needed.”
Professor Krottenthaler sees human resources as another strategic corporate goal. “Employees with dual training, meaning they are equally competent in theory and practice, will become an important factor for the future, as this is the only way to operate the complex production units optimally with the lowest possible input from human resources.”
According to Richard Clemens, MD of the Food and Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Association, affiliated in the VDMA (Germany’s engineering federation), hygienically-designed technology optimised for production processes offers more than just microbiological safety: “Product safety, i.e. protection of the consumer, is of course the main focus. But the hygienic design of process, filling and packaging systems also offers benefits in terms of efficiency: easy-to-clean surfaces and components will save on water, cleaning agents and energy. The total time spent on cleaning is shorter. And that means longer production times and increased efficiency of the systems technology.”
Hygiene is an important watchword in the dairy business. According to Knuth Lorenzen, the president of the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG), consistent use of all the principles of hygienic design can considerably reduce CIP times. The motto is ‘easy to clean’, because shorter cleaning times greatly increase the availability of the plant.
Process technology for wine
Decanters can successfully replace the press, the dominant method of juice extraction since the days of the Romans, says Robert Stangl, Regional Manager Food Technology at the drinktec exhibitor Alfa Laval.
“Nowadays decanters not only handle must clarification and yeast separation, these machines can also be used to extract must or juice from the grapes. Scroll-type centrifuges have already more than proven their effectiveness as compared to conventional presses. The more constant values, the easier operation and the drier residues all lead to greater efficiency. For vintners this means a higher yield with precisely calculable costs. Several well known institutes in Germany and abroad can confirm these results,” he explains.
Cross-functional process technology
GMP, short for “good manufacturing practice”, is a comprehensive quality assurance system that is gaining ground around the world. Just how it works is described by Heinz-Jürgen Kroner, MD of Pentair Südmo: “For us system designers, GMP basically presents two challenges: Firstly, as the competitive environment gets ever tougher, investment and operating costs should be as low as possible.
“Secondly, the input required for quality, performance, safety and documentation is constantly rising. The automobile industry is showing how to master this twin challenge. They build a wide range of models and brands on one standardised vehicle platform. The manufacturer is therefore deliberately moving away from individual production to a module-based system.”
In particular when lines are changed often, these machines boost cost-efficiency tremendously, thanks to plug and label units. Markus Müller, Heuft Systemtechnik, explains: “The ever increasing diversity in beverages packaging and packaging styles demands compact, flexible solutions that are highly automated, high-precision solutions for applying different types of label and for rapid change-overs that save on personnel and material costs.
“There is a trend towards camera-based, servo-controlled processes for millimeter-precise fine alignment of bottles before label application and integrated inspection modules to check quality even while the containers are still in the machine.”
Innovative filling technology
Prof Matthias Niemeyer, chairman of KHS, sums up the trends in filling technology: “At drinktec 2013 we will again see a clear orientation towards meeting customer wishes and, allied to this, a maximisation of benefit. In this context, the aspect of sustainability plays a key role. At the same time modular-designed filling technology will also be a central theme. This involves increased filling quality, better system availability and lower costs for maintenance, energy water and cleaning agents – advantages that are generated also by consistent application of hygienic design.”
For Holger Kahlert , vice president Filling Technology at Krones, the general trend in aseptic filling is towards a significant reduction in cleaning and sterilisation media: “The plant operators want to move away from the classic wet-aseptic with peracetic acid or dry sterilisation with hydrogen peroxide towards chemical-free systems, for example using irradiation.
“‘No water, no life’: if the isolator always remains dry and no chemicals are used, then micro-organisms have no nutrient to feed on, and no contamination can arise.”
Process automation and IT
This trend towards tailor-made automated solutions for all sizes of company, i.e. for global players as well as for SMEs, continues. A second main focus, according to Gunther Walden, head of Food & Beverage at the Siemens Division Industry Automation, lies in process optimisation: “The focus is on solutions that will help companies in the beverages industry increase their productivity. These offers are aimed at reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the operators, while maintaining high product quality and providing greater flexibility. These include products and solutions to increase energy-efficiency in production.”
Water treatment and water management
Careful, i.e. cost-efficient use of the resource of water, is now a common theme and trend across the world of beverage processing and filling.
Prof Stefan Schildbach from the University of Fulda, Dept of Food Technology, notes: “Sustainability most certainly also affects the subject of water processing. Savings that only a few years ago were considered too small and not cost-effective to implement, are now becoming ever more interesting. I am thinking here, for example, of the processing of water from filter backwash and of further increasing the yield in reverse osmosis plants. Also, intelligent control and monitoring strategies will start to become more important.”
Material handling engineering and intralogistics
Of the changing warehouse environment, Andreas Oy, sales director at SSI Schäfer Noell, says: “At present there is increasing demand in the beverages sector for modular and scalable concepts which the manufacturers can use for optimum space utilisation, for significantly increasing availability, deliverability and service quality, and for higher throughput.
“One current example is a fully-automated, compact channel warehouse with a ‘Lift&Run’ system, orbiter shuttles and intelligent materials handling control from the warehouse management system for Gerolsteiner beverages.”
Final packaging and palletising systems
“Cost-efficiency, flexibility and sustainability are the key benchmarks for future-oriented final-packaging and palletiding systems,” says Heiner Schaefer, MD of Schaefer Förderanlagen und Maschinenbau.
“Reducing the material used on beverage containers and minimising the secondary packaging presents a big challenge to the way beverage manufacturers work. Continuous three-shift operation with 8 000 and more production hours per year, combined with extended maintenance intervals, are the key features of the new machinery concepts.
“Packaging innovations at ever shorter intervals demand a great degree of flexibility in terms of machinery and plant. Off-line solutions are particularly popular for increasing the automation of packaging, sorting and mixing operations. Energy-optimised drive systems and plant concepts also make their contribution towards sustainability.”
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