Swisslog taps into Mai Dubai $21m bottled water ‘mega expansion’

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

The production facility at Mai Dubai.
The production facility at Mai Dubai.

Related tags Bottle Bottled water

Mai Dubai, bottled water company, part of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), has partnered with Swisslog to automate its storage and distribution centre as part of its 2020 $21m mega expansion project.

Mai, a play on the Arabic word for ‘water’ and #MyDubai, the hashtag for Dubai’s social media platform, produces 16 million units of water a year and will expand to 50 million by 2020.

Swisslog Vectura pallet stacker crane

The facility has a 22,123m² factory where water is filtered for sand and carbon after arriving as desalinated water from Dewa reservoir, then re-mineralized and treated with ultra-violet rays.

Swisslog Middle East will provide an automated raw and packing material warehouse, extend the factory’s production capability and build a 25m high warehouse to store 17,560 pallets of finished goods.

The raw material/packing material warehouse is 14m high and can store 5,592 pallets.

The Swisslog Vectura pallet stacker cranes, connected with a conveyor system, will provide storage and retrieval. A monorail system with 44 Swisslog trolleys and a transportation length of 1,000 meters will link all areas together, including the existing production lines.

Jay Andres, CEO, Mai Dubai, told BeverageDaily, producing drinking water is a huge challenge in Dubai because it does not have a river system and has limited rainfall.

We are delighted to be working with Swisslog to reach our 2020 goals​,” he said.

Aside from significantly improving the efficiency of our operation, the project will enable us to remain competitive in the market long-term, and will open up opportunities to grow our business further in the future.​”

Mai Dubai’s commercial operations began in March 2014. It has a 12,000 bph PET line, aas a turnkey system provided by SMI with a second bottling line for 5-gallon (19 liters) returnable polycarbonate containers, in collaboration with the Bardi company, and a third line for packaging water in small single-serving plastic cups, in partnership with Reepack.

The plastic cups are grouped manually into cardboard boxes and sold primarily to airlines, such as Emirates airline company.

Middle East expansion

Frédéric Zielinski, GM, Swisslog Middle East, added: “As our presence in the Middle East expands, Swisslog is fully committed to supporting the growth of regional businesses​.

“We have many more projects in the pipeline and we are continually receiving requests from local businesses.”

In other areas of the production line, computerized optical sensors identify bottles that can be filled and rejects faulty label or cap placements. Scanners check the expiry date on each bottle and there is a ‘leak tester’ that inspects and detects holes and cracks by blowing pressurised air into the bottles, automatically rejecting faulty ones before they go into washing, sterilizing, and filling.

To ensure the highest standards of sterilization, purity, and quality, Mai Dubai has a special isolated clean room where the latest filling technology maintains the quality of the water up to the moment where caps are placed and sealed. Caps are washed and sterilized with ultraviolet technology and ozonated water before placement over the bottles.

Competition in the bottled water category is growing. Abu Dhabi-based Agthia plans to double its water bottling capacity in Turkey and launched a new bottling line for its Al Ain brand of water this year. Its Turkish brand is marketed under Alpin Natural Spring Water.


  • Water is sourced from DEWA’s reservoir and is piped directly to the water treatment unit.
  • Water is sterilized before filtration and multi-sand filters remove foreign particles.
  • After carbon filters are activated, 5-micron filters and ultraviolet units remove left-over foreign particles.
  • Water goes through Reverse Osmosis for removal of very fine harmful particles.
  • After the sterilization process, Mai Dubai’s low-sodium and mineral-balanced recipe is added. Then, water goes through a 1-micron filtration and ozone sterilization process.
  • Bottles and caps are washed and sterilized before being moved for automated packaging and placed on pallets.
  • The system for the desalinated water treatment provided by SMI is produced by the French company I.C.E.
  • The complete bottling and packaging lines proposed by SMI are ideal for production requirements ranging from 4,800 to 50,000 bottles/hour.

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