Sidel installs “fastest water line” for Mai Dubai

A PET complete bottling line at Mai Dubai has been dubbed as the fastest single line in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, Sidel claimed. The latter’s Super Combi solution, adapted to optimise space and increase efficiency, helps the Dubai-based water company deliver high-quality water and take another step towards becoming the region’s top water brand.

Water makes up nearly one-third of soft drinks sales in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and sales are forecast to grow by 436 million litres, more than any other category, by 2026. In addition, buying habits in the UAE have been changing, with consumers becoming more concerned about shopping responsibly and demanding climate-friendly packaging and larger pack sizes in response to spending more time at home with family during the pandemic.

Established in 2012, Mai Dubai is fully owned by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA). Aside from the UAE market, the company has also been supplying its products internationally and since 2015, it has supplied Emirates Airlines.

Mai Dubai has partnered with Sidel to install a new complete packaging line. The line fills 86,000 bottles per hour (bph) in three different formats – 200ml, 330ml and 500ml. But speed was just one consideration when it came to selecting Sidel, as Alexander van’t Riet, CEO of Mai Dubai, explained: “Our key considerations were the optimal use of space, high consistent quality and efficiency with flexibility.

“Sidel’s digital capability was very attractive, too, with its Efficiency Improvement Tool (EIT) enabling us to track the performance of every part of the line. Sidel also added extra value by using its design expertise to help us to strengthen our 500ml bottle without compromising its iconic design. Finally, Mai Dubai is a leader in sustainability and Sidel’s solution supported our low energy requirements.”

Enhancing quality and efficiency
The complete line provided by Sidel delivers optimum water quality. It includes the all-in-one Super Combi solution for blowing, labelling and filling, with the ground level preform infeed system, EasyFEED, and the top ergonomic cap feeder, Gebo OptiFeed. These pieces of equipment all ensure that Mai Dubai’s high-quality standards are met including: 

  • Safe and clean conditions are ensured by EasyFEED with its UV lamps. In addition, a dedusting system for preforms is integrated into the blower, while a deionizing system on the caps chute further boosts the hygienic conditions.
  • At the labelling stage, quality and efficiency are also met by three labelling stations, all equipped with an auto-splicing system, delivering consistent uptime by ensuring non-stop production. Bottles are scuff- and scratch-free, improving the quality of the emend product. This is due to the ease of handling of lightweight bottles, enabled by labelling between the blowing and filling stage.
  • The accurate, reliable no-contact filler features a reduced enclosure kept in overpressure with high-efficiency particulate-absorbing (HEPA) filters. This results in a protected environment around the filling valves, and an easier-to-clean area using less sterilising agents and time.
  • Gebo OptiFeed’s features enable cap handling. Its inspection system improves efficiency by automatically detecting cap quality and colour.

Continuing down the line, the shrink-wrapper EvoFilm meets Mai Dubai’s key requirements for maximising efficiency by minimising downtime. It also manages nested packs – where bottles are offset so they can be closely packed – and gives stability while reducing the pack’s footprint, bringing cost savings in logistics.

Additional features of the new line include the high-speed, high-level pack infeed, PalLinear palletiser. It features a fully robotic layer preparation, RoboSmart, offering flexibility and saving time as well as being easier to operate. In addition, Mai Dubai was so impressed with Sidel’s EIT, the all-in-one line performance software, that it has now installed it on its other packaging lines.

Exceeding expectations
Mai Dubai appreciated Sidel’s smooth implementation of the line and ability to meet deadlines but exceed expectations. “We were very impressed with Sidel’s adaptability and understanding of our requirements,” said Mohamad Usman, director of operations at Mai Dubai.

“They delivered a line that was faster than our original specification. Sidel also met our additional request for bottle strength improvement. Within 15 days they had done a Failure Mode and Effects (FME) analysis and come up with a solution. With Emirates Airlines as a flagship client, premium, distinctive and reliable packaging is important to Mai Dubai.”

Meeting consumer demand
The new installation now enables Mai Dubai to respond to the growing demand for bottled water in the UAE, which already has one of the world’s highest per capita water consumption, as consumers opt for healthier products and move away from sugary drinks to no-calorie options.

Achieving sustainability goals
Consumers are also increasingly influenced by the environment when making purchasing decisions. Mai Dubai promotes PET as a sustainable product and runs education initiatives about plastic recycling with local schools.

The company’s commitment to sustainability is also demonstrated through its energy strategy. The entire plant is run on renewable energy, generated from its more than 52,000 rooftop solar panels – an area equivalent to all the windows in the Burj Khalifa, the iconic Dubai skyscraper and the world’s tallest building.

For the past two years, Mai Dubai has been net positive, generating more power than it uses. “Sidel is, of course, one of the respected suppliers in the industry,” concluded van ’t Riet. “When we compared the services that we needed, the equipment, the digital technology, and the solutions that were important to us such as energy consumption, we decided that Sidel would be the right partner for us.”