Coca-Cola Uses Customised Hot Fill System from KHS

Total flexibility: Coca-Cola Canners fills up to 20 different beverages into eight different bottle formats on the KHS line.

Dortmund, May 10, 2016 –  Around the globe consumers are finding that juices and sports drinks are a healthy alternative to what are often rather sugary soft drinks. Bottlers who want to muscle in on this growth market have to satisfy the special technical demands made of the process and filling technology for such products. For its juice and sports beverages Coca-Cola Canners in South Africa has now opted for a high-performance hot filling line from KHS.

“The entire fruit juice and sports drinks segment is growing all over the world as health awareness increases among many consumers,” states Steve Nagiah, plant manager at Coca-Cola Canners. It was decided to extend the company portfolio in the long term in order to develop this growth area.

With its four canning and two PET lines the production site in Wadeville just outside Johannesburg is one of the largest of its kind in the world. 320 employees working round the clock make sure that around 350 million liters of near-water beverage Glacéau, sports beverage Powerade and the Coca-Cola, Sprite and Fanta brands leave the factory every year.

Hot fill technology for hygienic bottling

Coca-Cola now bottles iced tea, sports drinks and juices with and without fruit chunks on the new line. The new pulpy beverages could not be bottled on the two existing lines for PET bottles. “The technology required for this is more sophisticated,” says Nagiah. Following a carefully considered consultation process Coca-Cola Canners decided to go for a system manufactured by its long-standing partner KHS. Especially the hot fill technology for hygienic bottling combined with an output of up to 48,000 bottles per hour had those responsible convinced.

“For this demanding project we developed a system which is precisely tailored to meet Coca-Cola’s specifications,” declares Philipp Casparby, project manager for KHS Manufacturing (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd., KHS’ South African subsidiary. Like other KHS block systems, the new line covers all stages in production from stretch blow molding through filling to labeling, packaging and palletizing.

The key is in the detail, however; the line also processes fruit juices with a percentage of fruit pieces. These fruit chunks must not be damaged during filling; at the same time the low filling dosage tolerances must be adhered to. The company designed a line with two precision volumetric fillers. On this the fruit pieces are first bottled with a little juice before the second filler tops up the bottles with the rest of the juice.

The entire filling process makes use of hot fill technology where the content is heated to over 100°C and then filled at a temperature of about 83°C. This makes sure that microorganisms are safely eliminated. With the new line Coca-Cola Canners is able to fill up to 48,000 bottles per hour holding between 0.3 and 1.5 liters.

After almost two years the customer’s summary is a positive one – not just with respect to the sustainable technology but also regarding the service provided 24/7. Nagiah reveals, “We thus recently ordered two more KHS packaging machines.”