It claims in Latin America each person drinks an average of 225 litres of cola a year, and Mexico, with a recent growth in consumption of 2%, is one of the largest ‘per capita’ consumers of soft drinks in the world.
Martin Stark, technical and purchasing director, Alpla, said Mexicans are focusing on water and non-carbonated drinks due to growing health concerns about obesity and the need for low-fat, sugar-free products with fewer calories.
Energy drinks to soar
Physical activity across the country is growing, meaning demand for energy drinks will soar.
“Sales of ‘on-the-go’ drinks are expected to increase and Alpla Mexico has a key role to play in this dynamic market, in supplying bottles to beverage producers,” said Stark.
Due to a growing demand, Alpla, which specializes in blow-molded bottles, has decided to invest in its PET-blowing machinery at its factory in Mexico and bought two Sidel Matrix blowers for Coca-Cola branded products on behalf of its client Coca-Cola Femsa.
Both machines, the SBO 24 Sidel Matrix blow-molder, are based at the Toluca plant of Coca-Cola Femsa, less than one hour from Mexico City. They produce 2,200 bottles per hour per mold.
Challenges in installation and start-up
One blower is dedicated to 400ml format bottles and the second one to 600ml format bottles.
“The challenge in both cases was to limit the consequences of installation and start-up on production, as the old machines had to be stopped in parallel,” said Stark.
“The SBO 24 Matrix blowers came in to replace previous generation Sidel blow-molders – one SBO 16, two SBO 18, and one SBO 20 - to produce the full range of Coca-Cola products.
“The bottle scrap rate is lower than production on the blow-label-fill and the reduced footprint of the machines has increased our storage capacity for preforms.”
Potential for lightweighting
Ecoven with a large process window, improved ventilation in the oven, electrical stretching the Sidel Matrix blower, which handles all the different preforms whatever the raw material - virgin or PCR (Post-Consumer Recycled) PET, regardless of whether the preforms have recently been injected or come from storage.
“The machines show great improvement over the former technology. It allows us to use a wider range of PET materials and great potential for lightweighting. Even if the production of bottles with 50% PCR PET preforms is generally more complex in terms of process, performance of the bottles was right from the outset,” added Stark.
The base shape, designed by Sidel, improved the bottle resistance to internal pressure and avoided stress cracking.
“We have also been able to reduce the weight of the 400ml bottle from 20.5g to 15.5g, respecting the specifications of Coca-Cola, which remain unchanged,” said Stark.
“After tailoring the modular Sidel Matrix blowers for our specific needs, the performance reached the level we were targeting, with an efficiency of up to 98% and an output matching that of the filling line. The availability and the uptime of the machines are at the right level.”
Other criteria for buying the machines included ease of operation and maintenance for the technicians and changeover flexibility for different beverages.