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£20m soft drinks plant comes on stream

18 August 2010

UK soft drinks entrepreneur Andrew Cawthray has announced he's returning to the industry. When he sold his previous company Macaw Soft Drinks to Cotts in 2005, he said he'd created one of the largest, most profitable soft drink operations.

Cawingredients is set to surpass Macaws. It's not so much that lessons have been learnt from last time, as clearly very few mistakes were ever made, but more than 30 years plus years on the industry has changed, retailers have changed, and Andrew’s business model has changed.

The new facility is a blueprint of the most modern high tech process, production and storage operations. Once retailers see the investment at Cawingredients, they are likely to be part of this enterprise.

The 17-acre site, of which the first phase is taking a third of the land, circa 130,000sqft, with the new offices, laboratory, bottling hall and warehouse, has been designed for significant expansion which will include all facets of the operation, further bottling lines and a high-bay warehouse.

When Andrew decided to come back into the industry, he contacted John Board, his production director at Macaw, who was delighted to get involved with the start up along with his son-in-law, Richard Harrison who has invested in the business and is commercial director for the company.

The final decision on the equipment was taken in the Spring 2009, with the start up commencing at the end of February 2010.

Andrew said: “I went through all the major suppliers and looked at how they had changed since John and I bought equipment for Macaws. We had a great relationship with many old suppliers but there have been many changes. Having evaluated all the candidates we came down on the side of Krones.

“We believed as a group, Krones had made the most impressive leap forward in technology. Having not been a particular fan of their filling technology in the past, we were really impressed with the new Krones electronic valve. Within a few days performance figures of 90+% efficiency was being achieved, an experience we'd not known before.”

Andrew continued: “With the experience the team has with packaging and specifically bottle design, plus working with the Krones design team at Neutraubling, we have come up with a number of bottles which look as good as glass when displayed in store.

“We'd never in the past gone down the turnkey route, always believing in the past that we knew best as far as individual items of equipment were concerned, but I have to say that our experience of Krones now and the way the UK and German team handled the project was second to none.

“Of course, Andrew continued, you are going to have the odd detail on a snagging list but in this case there were surprisingly few and this 140hd filler is capable of producing 300,000 two litre bottles working a twelve hour shift. This currently fills a maximum of two flavours a day.” Andrew believes that to get any sensible economics of scale as a contract packer, a maximum, of 2 flavour changes a shift.

The new factory has been designed to cope with future expansion, so all the rainwater and waste water are capable of being recycled. Internally, the factory has been designed so that the LGV’s, supplied by OCME, interface with the FLT operations looking after the dry end of caps and preforms, and at the end of the line full pallets are put close to the racking by the OCME LGVs, and then fork lifts put pallets into the racking.

Miteco were chosen to provide the syrup room and processing area, working in conjunction with Brewchem who handled all the st st water vessels and pipework. Miteco is a company used at Nelson where the latest installation was used to great effect and their equipment has given tremendous accuracy.

From the outset, all necessary power and water supplies have been designed with future production in mind. The main internal power is supplied via a Byworth Boiler and the first of the Gardner Denver compressors providing the air for the Krones line, blowing at 40 bar.
Acting as turnkey providers, Krones handled the entire line from the discharge hoppers for the closures and preforms, right through to the fully wrapped pallets.

Such is the efficiency of the Krones line, that the total number of operatives on the line is three. One at the contiform/ VODM filler, one at the labeller and finally one at the palletising area. In the four hours that I was in the bottling hall, the only stoppage was at the end, for a flavour change. Considering the short length of time since the line ran first production bottles on February 22nd, the efficiency levels of high 90’s are really phenomenal.

The line in detail:

Preform – Tilting device. A tilting device supplies the preform feed unit with preforms. The preforms are supplied in octabins, box pallets or cartons. The simple tilting device raises the perform magazine and empties it into the preform silo.

Cap conveyor SBF – The cap conveyor conveys caps from the infeed station through vertical conveyor areas by grooved belt conveyor and horizontal systems to the cappers. The system completely made of rustproof steel is adapted individually to the caps to be conveyed.

Stretch-blow moulder CONTIFORM S 16 – The high-speed stretch blow moulder works on a two-stage principle and is equipped with 16 blowing stations. It is used in the standard process type (S) for production of plastic bottles with a volume of up to 3.0 litres. The linear oven for heating the performs contains in this model a number of heating modules designed to match the individual requirements. The high output is achieved by use of light aluminium mould carriers. The recovery of blowing air integrated into each Contiform (S) as standard equipment leads to a minimised compressed air consumption and thus, to a significantly reduced energy consumption in the blowing process. The blown bottles then pass through a base cooling system prior to entering the infeed star wheel of the filler.

Bottle filler VOLUMETIC VODM-PET 5.040-140-113 - The filler handles PET bottles and guides them by neck handling through the machine. The machine design is based on a pitch circle diameter of 5,040 mm with 140 filling valves and a pitch of 113 mm. All filling valve functions are controlled electro-pneumatically. An inductive flow meter is assigned to each filling valve, which determines the exact filling quantity before the filling process. The filling system working in the single chamber principle allows a filling process in two speeds so that the process times can be optimised.

There is a reduction of investment costs possible by bloc arrangement with KRONES stretch blow moulder, as no air conveyors are needed, with the inherent problems of bottle jams and servicing the fan systems.

The filled bottles pass along a complete Krones conveying system that includes pressureless combiners, single lining and operates using an Ecolab dry lube conveyor lubrication system.

The filled bottles pass through a CHECKMAT 731 FM-HF, the system serves for fill level inspection using high-frequency technology (HF). The DART technology (Distributed Architecture for Real Time) is applied for analysis and visualisation. Operation is via touchscreen (M). The inspection unit is designed compactly and offers a wide range of expandabilities. Faulty containers are rejected into a bin.

The filled and checked bottles pass to the CONTIROLL 720-15. The labeller allows handling of reel-fed wrap-around labels of plastics or paper. The rotary-type labeller, which is adapted optimally to the required nominal output by 720 mm pitch diameter, meets all requirements for an excellent labelling result with 15 centring stations. The containers fixed in the centring stations are positioned by the plate control exactly for label transfer and rotate during the labelling process.

Currently Cawingredients have two options for secondary packaging, either to use a returnable beverage type RTP’s, here a robot palletising has been installed by Krones to handle complete pallets of a single product, or off line the robot can pack two different flavours onto a Euro pallet.

The second packaging option is a conventional shrinkwrapper which can include a tape handle applicator.

Non-returnable packer VARIOPAC PRO FS - The packer VARIOPAC PRO FS, a model of the new machine generation, processes only loose containers to shrink packs. Depending on pack type and size, the machine is designed for outputs of 70 cycles/min. If the container groups are processed parallel on two lanes, the number of cycles is doubled. The film magazine normally contains two film reels. Thanks to its modular structure the machine can be retrofitted with additional components. The VARIOPAC PRO FS is a flexible, versatile packing machine which can be easily integrated into new or existing lines, also offering various possibilities for future packing concepts.

The Twin Pack handle applicator in double-lane design applies a handle to the different packs and works with an output of 60 p.p.m.

The shrinkwrap packs pass along the KRONES MULTICO pack conveyor which conveys and buffers packs of different sizes and designs.

The loose bottles, or shrinkwrapped packs then pass to the palletising area.

Combined packer/palletiser - The packer and palletiser MODUPLPAL 3AR is designed as basic machine with three motional axes (3A): one linear axis for vertical movement, one swivel axis for horizontal movement and one turning axis for gripper turns. The pivoting radius of the rotary column is 360°around the centre line and covers a very large working range. The MODULPAL 3 AR can move a load of 700 kg including gripper. The gripper system fastening is designed with change system, the packs are handled complete layers.

The empty pallet magazine with two-sided latching has a lifting capacity of 600 kg: stacking of up to 15 pallets is possible.

The KRONES pallet conveyor PALCO conveys and buffers pallets of different sizes and designs. High operational safety is guaranteed by robust, fully stainless steel design which is corrosion resistant to aggressive conveying and cleaning media.

The filled pallets then pass to the pallet stretchwrapper. The stretch wrapper secures the pallet charge by wrapping the pallet completely or partially with film. The Markem pack labelling is an intelligent labelling system for barcode technology and product identification in industrial use.

The product treatment and the CIP system are supplied by Miteco and have been integrated into the line to offer maximum line efficiency, reduced down time between flavour changes and reduced water wastage.

KAM – Krones Asset Management
The KRONES Asset Management System is pre-configured with maintenance orders and intervals allowing immediate use of the system by the customer.

 In machines integrated into the system, KAM is provided with the data for preventive maintenance and service.

The KRONES LDS (Line Documentation System) is an efficient data acquisition system (BDE) that provides the customer with all necessary aids and software tools in order to increase efficiency and productivity by line optimisation. Realtime data as well as historical data are analysed. The system shows optimisation potentials to the decision-makers in a production plant - automatically, transparently and reliably.

This system increases efficiency and productivity by providing data which are important for production. This offers standardised Excel reports about production, operating time and machine malfunctions. Online visualisation for permanent information for the line operator on current status of the complete line and/or the individual machines and assemblies.

 Weak-point analysis including cause of malfunction report

 Presentation of availability of individual machines and ABC analysis for identification of most frequent malfunctions

Trend display of process variables in the Chart module

Andrew Wilson, MD of Krones UK, said: “We were so pleased to be given the opportunity to provide the Turnkey system for Cawingredients. The Krones technology available now really matches the technical aspirations that Cawingredients were seeking. We have been able to demonstrate that the line efficiency has exceeded expectation and we are very proud to be involved with such a prestigious contract.”

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