Stefan Kraus, product manager, filling technology at Krones, said: “It’s already one of the biggest deals for us, aseptic, because there are a lot of requests coming from the market for pure, healthy products with less heat impact.
“This wave or trend is not over yet, so the market is going steadily in the direction of aseptic,” he added.
At Drinktec in Munich this September, Kraus said Krones will present a cold fill version of its Twin-Flow technology for dosing juice and dairy products with particles, “to give the market more opportunities”.
Twin-Flow with FlexiFruit involves juice or mixed-milk beverages and fruit pieces being fed through two different system channels (see below: yellow = fruit flow, blue = juice flow), and they do not meet until they reach the bottle.
First launched in early 2011, the Twin-Flow process ensures that the fruit constituents (sacs, pieces, fibres, pulp) do not get damaged during flash pasteurization before dosing into PET bottles; the constituents can measure up to 10x10x10mm, larger than historically possible.
‘Crazy’ demand for Twin-Flow system
“On the one hand we have the FlexiFruit system, where we can do a hot-fill application, for particles, and on the other hand we have a rather new technology, for non-hot fill products,” Kraus said.
“We will present this at Drinktec as something special, because it’s not available in the market in this form.”
(Cold aseptic filling is commonly employed for beverages such as sports drinks, teas, vegetable juices, milks, flavored waters, juices; it removes the need for refrigeration, gives drinks a longer shelf life, and can improve the organoleptic and nutritional qualities of beverages.)
In March 2012, Krones director of filling technology, Hans Hiendl, told us the firm had three Twin-Flow lines with the FlexiFruit dosing system in operation around the world. So how had interest grown since?
“The market likes this technology very much. And since you spoke to Mr Heindl, I believe we’ve sold more than 16 of those systems, all over the world,” Kraus said.
“We have no hotspot in terms of where we sell to. It’s been crazy. We’ve sold these systems all over the world.”
Chinese need for filling speed
Discussing filling trends more generally, Kraus said demand for higher line speeds was country specific.
“If you go to China, the customer has maybe 10 lines side-by-side, making say three products. But if you look at the UK, France, Germany, you have a lower output but a higher flexibility – because the product diversification is increasingly important,” he said.
“If you look to some bottlers they have maybe 30 different products running on the lines, on the one machine.”
Chinese bottlers are prepared to buy totally different lines for different products because they need higher outputs for single products, as they need to serve a much bigger market, Kraus explained.
“So you might have 10 different lines for 10 different products, each running at 60000 bottles/hour.”