Krones has supplied Germany's first dedicated PET line for beer and beer-based mixed drinks - the 36,000-bph line at Holsten-Brauerei starts operations this month 2003.
Beer in PET has been a much-debated topic, at least in Germany, but so far essentially a matter of theory rather than practice. A handful of breweries had run some trials, launched some market tests, bottled the beers either on one of their own modified glass/PET combined lines or had them bottled by contract bottlers located just over the borders.
Holsten-Brauerei, based in Hamburg, has now taken a lead by investing in a dedicated PET line for beer and beer-based mixed drinks. And in a respectable order of magnitude as well: the new line is rated at 36,000 0.5-l bph, corresponding to an annual capacity of around 500,000 hl. From this month, the PET line at the Feldschlösschen Brewery's plant in Brunswick will be fully operational.
The turnkey supplier for the line was Krones, Neutraubling. The PET bottles are produced inline by the Contiform S24 blow-moulding machine, and transported by air conveyors to the special PET filler Mecafill VKP-PET. A Contiroll labeller dresses the bottles in reel-fed wrap-around labels. For end-of-the-line packaging, a Variopac machine packs the bottles in shrink-wrapped trays. As the pallet loader, Holsten opted for a versatile robot-based solution in the shape of the Robot 3A.
Holsten currently intends to fill only the 0.5-l bottle, though in a monolayer variant for beer-based mixed drinks, and a multi-layered version for beer. One new feature is the bottle shape: to ensure the requisite stability and pressure withstand capability, a bottle with a petaloid base was chosen, but with eight recesses to retain the familiar beer-bottle look. The result is a what Krones calls an elegant and stable mixed shape midway between the petaloid base and the champagne base more usual for beer. Fine-tuning of the new bottle shape was carried out by Krones.
Holsten says it will be offering the PET bottle at the same price level as alternative convenience containers. From market statistics and its own latest market research feedback, Holsten has concluded that PET as a packaging material for beer and beer-based mixed drinks will not encounter any acceptance problems among consumers of all age-groups.
According to Holsten the feedback it has had after three years of packaging its Pilsener in PET, indicates that there will be sufficient demand to more than justify the installation of the PET line.
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