Britvic Soft Drinks, one of the largest soft drinks packaging companies in the UK, expanded its packaging operations at its Rugby, UK, facility in the third quarter of 2004. The expansion involved the conversion of an old 6,000m² warehouse into a new bottling facility. The use of the existing building meant that the company could save construction costs and also consolidate valuable space at the plant.
The expansion was undertaken because of a general change in consumer behaviour, which has increased the demand for non-alcoholic soft drinks, especially in smaller containers. For this reason, the new facility will mainly be used for Pepsi, Tango and Seven-Up brands in 0.5l bottles and for Tango in a new 0.25l bottle. Previously, only 2l PET bottles and cans were produced at the Rugby facility, but now Britvic will be able to respond to a growing trend towards these smaller bottles.
The company annually bottles over 1.1 billion litres of its popular soft drinks ranges. The investment for the new bottling facility was estimated at over £10m.
The new line will allow Britvic to produce, fill and process an additional 36,000 bottles an hour, which will then be dispatched to their state-of-the-art fully automated logistics centre in Magna Park, UK.
The PET line equipment was provided by SIG Corpoplast, a German company that has a long standing and successful relationship with Britvic. They were able to provide two SIG Corpoplast BLOMAX 12 Series III stretch blow moulding machines with four mould sets.
In addition, SIG supplied a SIG Simonazzi palletiser, a SIG Alfa labelling machine and a SIG Elletric 80 laser-guided vehicle for unmanned in-plant transport. SIG Corpolast also provided a full training programme for Britvic staff prior to the installation.
The filling equipment, provided by KHS Kisters, included filling and packaging machinery.
Refurbishing a warehouse to the standards required for a hygienic bottling plant requires more than just equipment. A new polyurethane flooring system (designed for cleanrooms), a combination of Sikafloor PurCem 20, PurCem 29 (for high chemical resistance) and PurCem 31 (to improve the overall finish), was installed in the warehouse by Sika-Armorex. The flooring system was applied at a regulation depth of 9mm following careful preparation of the worn concrete surface to provide a hygienic anti-slip surface for the new facility.
The walls and roof of the warehouse building also had to be treated / modified to bring them up to the required standard for food and beverage packaging. This was carried out by Swirlforce (Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, UK) and involved 2,800m of 11ft-high ceiling being sprayed with an impervious coat of enamel, while the bare block walls (internal surfaces) were painted with a special anti-mould emulsion paint (the coating and painting project took ten weeks and cost £30,000).
Britvic has extended its relationship with Castrol (which also provide services to Britvic’s Norwich plant) to provide a predictive maintenance programme for the new bottling facility. Castrol will provide its Advantage programme, which involves a full-time Castrol engineer on the Britvic site for lubrication management and condition monitoring of equipment.
A major part of the predictive maintenance programme involves the ongoing analysis of every machine in the plant, to ensure that wear levels are accurately monitored and action taken to prevent breakdowns. Bearing wear is tracked constantly using vibration analysis and shock pulse monitoring. Full oil changes are now only required every four years instead of every six months due to the use of Castrol high-performance lubricants.
SIG Beverage is also available on a maintenance and service contract for the new machines.
The SIG Corpoplast Blomax 12 Series III machine is a stretch blow moulding machine capable of linear operation at speeds up to 18,000 bottles an hour. The mandrel transport system guarantees that the preforms are not disturbed during the production process (which could cause rejects).
The machine has been specifically designed for extremely high production speeds, without stretching the limits of speed and preform materials. The nominal capacity is 1,500 bottles a mould an hour for bottles of up to 1.5l volume.
The machine is based on a modular design concept which simplifies the spare parts logistics, standardises training programmes and allows expansion if operational requirements change. The design of the mould carrier allows the adoption of a wide range of formats (it even allows the use of moulds from other suppliers if required).
The machine design has also been simplified to allow easy maintenance and changeovers. A complete heater box can be exchanged in a minute, a complete turning wheel in three minutes and a complete blowing station in 30 minutes.
The design of the transport mandrel for the preforms (a previous problem area) has been improved to allow easier more trouble-free operation. The preform in-feed to the machine is now operated by a worm screw for gentle and reliable preform separation, increased speed and a reduction in floor space.