What does a PET bottle packaging company want from their equipment supplier? Everybody wants value for money, but when it comes to specifics, preferences vary.
Some companies are very focussed on one type of product in one type of package, often in highly competitive markets, and what counts for them above all is unit costs. SIPA has the products for you.
But then there are other packaging companies with a broad mix of products that they may need to run for relatively short periods, on a limited number of lines—maybe even just one line. There are others who are moving into new areas, or fast-developing areas, where it is unclear at the outset what the major product will ultimately be. These companies put a priority on adaptability in their equipment and associated services, the flexibility to change with the market.
And this is where SIPA truly excels, all the way from the concept and design stage of a new form of packaging, right the way through preform and bottle production, filling, capping and labelling, to the palletizer at the end of the production line.
Versatile neck finishes
Over the years, SIPA specialists have put their extensive experience in the PET packaging sector to great use in developing highly innovative preform and bottle designs that enable customers to make better products more cost-effectively. They have invented containers that stand out from the competition on shop shelves, and they have become especially adept at creating lightweight neck designs that are equally suitable for different types of products.
SIPA takes a holistic approach to neck design, taking into consideration not only such basic questions as “Will the mold fill?” but also numerous less obvious ones. For example: “Can we keep the same closure?” “What effect will the design have on total line configuration?” “How can I minimize changes necessary to existing preform molds?” This has led it to such ground-breaking innovations as the HotLight 28.
The HotLight 28 for CSDs and hot-fill
The HotLight 28 is a 28-mm short neck finish that is shorter than standard hot-fill neck finishes, and also considerably lighter at just 3.8 g. Critically, it allows the production of hot fill and CSD containers on the same machine without any personalization change.
The HotLight 28 is already being used by several SIPA customers, helping them to increased success in key markets. One case study was detailed in a previous edition of SIPA Magazine: SIPA and major Asian food and beverage producer URC have together developed what are believed to be among the lightest hot-fill bottles in the world. The bottles are used for a market-leading brand of green tea-based drink. URC uses the HotLight 28 on two designs for hot-fill bottles, a 230-mL bottle weighing just 12.5 g, and a 1.5-L bottle.
Stretch-blow molding hybrid
Down on the bottle production and filling line, SIPA equipment shows its flexibility in many ways. A single SIPA SFR EVO 3 rotary stretch-blow molding system, for example, is equally adept at producing bottles for a wide range of drinks. Without changing the mold shells, it can be quickly converted from producing bottles for water or carbonated soft drinks to bottles for hot-fill applications. Consider too some of these features:
• Electrically-controlled stretch rods are standard on the SFR EVO 3. This makes it particularly easy to switch from one format to another.
• On a machine holding molds with small necks for water or CSD bottles (type PCO 1881 28 or 30/25, for example), it is a simple job to convert it to run bottles for juices or other hot-fill products with a 38-mm neck diameter. This is mainly due to the unique drive chains on the SFR EVO 3 that require no modification when moving from one neck size to another.
• Modular ovens for the preforms on the SFR EVO 3 are easy to move and assemble according to the needs of the process, so that they are always as close as possible to the blowing wheel—something not possible with standard ovens.
• A quick-change system allows the equipment user to quickly adjust elements in product handling areas, such as the preform orientation rollers and the chute.
SIPA’s Flextronic range of highly versatile modular volumetric fillers, together with new filling valves in EVO versions that can be perfectly integrated and interchangeable on the new platform, make it possible to create solutions tailor-made for the most diverse requirements in the bottling world. The Flextronic platform allows bottlers to fill multiple products on the same line.
Flextronic C, one of the most complete and powerful configurations in the new range, handles carbonated, still and hot-fill products, with or without pulp. It can also work with various types of containers, with different neck sizes.
Last year, SIPA demonstrated the Flextronic filler in its “Xfill” configuration. This has no on-board product tank, and when the unit is used for carbonated drinks, the mixing unit buffer tank is used as a product tank for the filler.. The integration of the mixing unit with the filler makes it possible to obtain a high quality, stable finished product, with a consequent improvement across the entire filling process.
Very versatile, highly economic
The combination of the new valve and the Xfill configuration offers a whole series of advantages for the user. For example, the extreme operational flexibility it provides minimizes product loss and downtime at flavour change.
In addition, a new concept incorporated into the entire filling process electronic management yields a global reduction in power consumption. Consumption of carbon dioxide when filling with carbonated drinks is also reduced, as are product losses from the snift circuit. And these are just two of numerous plus points.
The Flextronic range offers some of the highest standards of quality and efficiency on the market today—making use of the latest updates of the best mechanical, pneumatic and electronic components available—but it is still simple to use and maintain. It is also characterised by extreme cleanliness.
The valves are made of 316L stainless steel, and they are very solid and compact. They have been designed with a clear separation between the pneumatic components and the parts in contact with the product, in order to avoid any problems with contamination. They are made up of a series of elements that can be separated without disassembling the entire valve, for ease of maintenance.
Keeps the bubbles in the drink
The Flextronic C keeps the product very stable during filling—something that is particularly important for carbonated drinks. In addition, the new valve has larger channels for the passage of carbon dioxide and for product hot recirculation, for improved operation with liquids containing pulp and fruit. The valve has been designed for “dry” pressurization via a separate channel for faster and steady decompression.
This solution makes the Flextronic C ideal for incorporation into SIPA’s Sincro-Bloc blowing/filling monobloc: this not only eliminates the need for bottle rinsing, but also enables improved control over the entire filling process and hence an overall improvement in filling performance.
Single stream and double stream
Two systems are available on Flextronic fillers for putting pulp into drinks: single-stream and double-stream. With double-stream technology, the juice and the pulp are dosed separately into the bottle, in two separate filling carrousels. With single-stream, pulp and juice are mixed together away from the line, eliminating the need for dosing of the pulp inside the filling carrousel.
As well as the Flextronic volumetric fillers, SIPA offers a full range of gravity and isobaric filling systems for single stream dosing, also capable of handling still and carbonated soft drinks, juices and hot filled products. Stillfill and Stillfill HR units are capable of handling hot-fill and cold-fill without the need for any change of components.
SIPA offers a pulp dosing technology that has already proven itself in the food and beverage industry in a wide range of applications. The technology differs significantly from conventional piston fillers in three key aspects: the complete absence of seals; a unique self-draining design; and extreme simplicity and reliability.
This combination creates a set of key advantages for dosing small volumes of fruit pulp, including:
• unmatched fill precision;
• gentle product handling, with minimum maceration of the pulp;
• fully automatic product change over without fill station disassembly;
• capability to fill at up to 95°C product temperature;
• minimum product dwell time in the filler prior to dosing, for optimal product quality.
SIPA’s Filling and Packaging Division recently expanded its range of palletisers, making it one of the most complete and advanced on the market today. This range has been enhanced with the state of the art of a gentle, precise and fast layer preparation even in case of extremely light bottles. With Active Layer and Fastlayer systems, SIPA can cover all customer requirements, both in term of productivity and logistics.
The heart of the system is a patented gripping head allowing for simultaneous handling of several packs. The grippers can be equipped with electric automatic adjustment, so no manual intervention is required in the Fastlayer area when there is a change in format of the product to be palletized. This is important when formats change frequently. Complementing the high speed with which the layers are filled, pallet changeover can be carried out "on the fly," in just a few seconds.
In tune with market needs
This application is perfectly suited to current trends of the beverage market, with its demands for lighter bottles, increased product differentiation, and multiple product formats.