Paul O'Sullivan, Magners' quality assurance manager, showing a newly bottled Magners Pint.
The Clonmel facility.
Bottles must be dry for labelling to be accurate and also to avoid problems with the foil overwrap.
The filling line and the dryer.

Magners Irish Cider is now one of the most well-known and best-selling brands of cider in the UK market. Magners is actually the number-one brand of packaged cider in the UK and is now available in 17 markets around the world.

Thanks to a successful £20m television advertising campaign running since 2006 the tarnished image of cider as a popular drink was changed and it was brought into the popular market once again. Sales have increased by over 40% since 2006, but have rapidly cooled in 2008 due to market conditions, increased costs and poor weather.

The cider was designed to be served over ice (which has prompted similar over ice brands such as Bulmers Original) and has been given an attractive trendy image to appeal to the 20–30 market age demographic.

The drink, manufactured by Bulmers Ltd in Ireland, is available in 500ml cans, one-pint bottles and 330ml long-neck bottle formats in all the major UK supermarkets. The cider has also made a strong impression on the draught cider market in UK public houses after becoming available for the first time in May 2008.

Both the Bulmers and Magners brands are owned by C&C Group, which is a drinks group responsible for major brands such as Carolan Irish Cream, Tullamore Dew (whiskey), Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur), Ritz (perry) and Irish Mist (whiskey).

Bottling lines

In May 2007 the Magners manufacturing facility at Clonmel in County Tipperary had its bottling lines upgraded with three new Secomak Powerstrip bottle drying systems. This was required because of a higher reject rate than normal due to misaligned labels on the pint and 330ml long neck bottles produced at the plant (increasing wastage and costs). For Magners the product appearance and presentation is just as important as the product inside each bottle. Magners has very stringent requirements for the labelling component of the production process.

“The Clonmel plant in County Tipperary had an upgrade in 2007.”

The cider is cold bottled (using Krones cold filling technology) and this causes condensation to form on the neck and bodies of the glass bottles. The moisture droplets must be removed prior to the labelling process or the labels can slip when applied and become misaligned. In addition water collected under the foil wrap on the bottle neck causing hygiene problems.

Consequently the Powerstrip bottle dryers were located just before the bottles entry into the high-speed labelling machines. These have been designed so that they can provide streak-free drying at a bottle line speed of 68,000 bottles an hour.

Magners’ quality assurance manager, Paul O’Sullivan, said: “The Secomak bottle dryers have had an immediate effect of quality. They allow us to reach very high bottling and labelling speeds with complete confidence. They also give our customers the added peace of mind that the bottle necks are dry under the foil wrapping.”

“The Powerstrip system provides streak-free bottle drying.”

Powerstrip drying solution

The Powerstrip system is a fully modular drying solution which can allow a range of drying modules to be combined for almost any conveyor-based production process.

The system uses a range of technologies which can include blower-driven air knives, induced vacuum and suction components, compressed air micro nozzles, and also state-of-the-art control systems. Systems are custom configured using the most suitable technologies according to the application.