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Lithuanian bottler achieves 30% improvement in lightweighting with new pet line

06 June 2016

Following the success of its original PET bottling Greenfield project, BMV (Birštono Mineraliniai Vandenys) in Lithuania ordered a second PET line from Sidel. The company also collaborated on a new design of PET bottle shapes to help boost sales of the client’s water brands. The new design contributed to lightweighting the bottles by up to 30%. 

Commenting on the project, Norbertas Pranckus, CEO at BMV said: “We were really satisfied with the performance achieved by the first Sidel Combi – a Sidel Combi FMc – in terms of production safety and efficiency. We believe this original complete line solution was the first integrated blow-fill-cap solution ever in the Baltic States. We had no doubts when considering enlarging our production volume again.”

In 2008, BMV began bottling natural mineral water under the ‘Akvile’ brand. Some years later, the company intended to update one of its production lines with new equipment and so approached Sidel for the first time for with a proposal for a new complete packaging line solution for bottling ‘Akvile’ as part of a greenfield project.

A dedicated Sidel team collaborated with the customer to develop a complete project plan, selected all of the specific equipment, defined the floor layout and implementation plan and detailed a cost analysis and budget plan, including the management of third-party contributors. Sidel employed the latest technology and methods including feasibility studies, simulation modelling and 3D animations to ensure that the line’s master plans were carefully constructed and perfectly controlled.

Product safety and integrity – along with production efficiency – were important priorities for the water producer. Sidel’s single production enclosure – including the three main integrated functions configured with the positive, filtered air-pressure – ensures a hygienic and safe production environment. The hygienic design of the filling valve, with no mechanical parts in contact with the filled water and a filling process controlled by a pneumatic membrane valve, ensures safe filling. Additional hygienic options have been implemented in the Combi configuration to further optimise food safety, including air filtration and overpressure area protection.

The Combi also offers efficiency levels that are said to be up to 4% higher than standalone machines. The magnetic flow meters, which control the filling volume, ensure an accurate dosing while the filling parameters of each filling valve are controlled directly from the operator panel. The automatic dummy bottles close the filling circuit during CIP operations.

Based on the performance of the newly installed bottling line producing Akvile, a second Sidel line was installed.

The second line features a very similar scope of supply. However, the installation was more challenging because the footprint needed to be 20% more compact than the original bottling line.

Valentinas Lukosevicius, Production Director at the Birštonas site, explained: “Installation of the second line was a big challenge. The new line was a substitute for an old existing line and the constraints of the limited plant floor space were therefore an important consideration when designing the line layout.”

The new line solution comprises a Sidel Combi 8 FMc; a cap air rinser; UV lamps on the infeed rail of the preform feeding rail; a Sidel Rollquattro Evolution labeller; a cap feeder for sport and flat caps, coder, packer, handle applicator twin pack, bottle conveyor, pack conveyor, and palletiser.

The new bottle shapes were also designed by Sidel to boost both the ‘Vytautas’ and ‘Birute’ brands, with the ‘Vytautas’ bottle design targeted primarily at male customers and ‘Birute’ at female customers. With elegant curves and elongated shoulders, the body of the bottle is engraved with the brand logo and its mineral content. The same shape was adopted for both still and sparkling water, with just differences in the bases, and deployed for a complete family of four bottle formats.

Although the main format produced on the line is the 1.5l bottle, the new line has the flexibility to produce either still or sparkling water in the four different PET bottle formats: 0.5, 1.0, 1.25 and 1.5l, to a maximum production output of up to 16,000 bottles per hour. This production level represents an output three times faster than the previous BMV?line it replaced. This significant increase in production capacity assisted BMV in serving its national market, as well as providing opportunities for expanding exports in Poland and Russia.

An important environmental concern relates to the amount of plastic used to produce the bottles and BMV is strongly committed to reducing this where possible. “The company became the first in Lithuania to reduce the amount of PET in its bottles, adopting a short-neck capping system and cutting the use of PET by up to 50 tonnes per year. The new bottles designed by Sidel also contributed to lightweighting the bottles by up to 30%,” said Pranckus. BMV then took the decision to use only packaging that is recyclable in its bottling, also committing to actually recycling the resulting waste rather than simply passing the responsibility on to others.

The company is also intending to reduce the total amount of electrical power it consumes through the implementation of eco-friendly technologies. “The Sidel Ecoven used within the Combi configuration makes a big contribution to this target and both of the complete Sidel lines significantly reduce the company’s consumption of electricity,” concluded Pranckus.

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