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Quality and character

Krones has installed an innovative solution for filling and packaging in Poland’s food segment. To upsize its capacity, the American food conglomerate H. J. Heinz has installed a complete line for specialised tasks at its Pudliszki facility in Poland. It handles an extensive range of containers, both glass bottles and polypropylene (PP) special-shaped containers, plus a highly disparate range of packages featuring cartons, trays with and without film, all in a single machine. The particular innovation involved here is the hygienically safe and affordable filling technology featuring an ultra-accurate weighing filler for cold-filling in conjunction with a double cleanroom assuring a stringent standard of hygiene.

With demand steadily rising, in 2008 H. J. Heinz was faced with a decision on how to upsize its production capacities for ketchup bottling. Internationally, Heinz operates more than 70 production facilities. In Europe, ketchup is bottled in Europe, in Holland, Spain, Russia and Poland. There was plenty of catching up to do in the Polish market particularly, with only one line operating in Pudliszki, rated at around 10,000 containers an hour, and only very small quantities being exported from here. Since there is a general trend towards continuously rising sales of ketchup, Heinz decided to single out certain plants as dedicated specialists for ketchup production in regard to the packaging. It was for this reason that the second line for filling glass and PP bottles was installed in Poland. Ketchup is filled in PET containers at plants in Holland and Russia.

Opting for a single-sourced solution

“We had to decide whether to put together a new line ourselves, with machines from different manufacturers, or to install a complete line from a single vendor. We opted for the latter variant, and there Krones was the only machinery manufacturer able to offer us a complete solution”, explains Krzysztof Pawlowski, the responsible project manager back then and now Supply Chain Finance Manager.

The new Krones line has been dimensioned for an output of up to 21,000 containers an hour, corresponding to 7,200 kilograms an hour or 30,000 tons a year, for filling Heinz Ketchup in glass bottles with filling weights of 342 and 855 grams, and Pudliszki Ketchup in PP containers with filling weights of 480 and 500 grams. In future, containers made from renewable raw materials could also be used. About a third of the ketchup is still being filled in glass bottles, while two-thirds are already being sold in plastic containers.

The production output covers the Polish market, but also supplies many European countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Czechia and France. Sophisticated just-in-time logistics render a warehouse superfluous. The trucks are loaded directly from the line; a maximum of 50 pallets (about four hours’ production output) can be placed in interim storage.

Performance more than meets expectations

Supply Chain Finance Manager Krzysztof Pawlowski is also enthusiastic: “Krones showed a lot of flexibility when it came to installation and coordination with the new product preparation system created at the same time. Following two years of successful operation and more than 10,000 operating hours, we can safely say that the line’s performance has even exceeded our original expectations. There are practically no complaints at all from the market regarding product quality and dress. Our capacity problems have been solved, we can run three-shift operation, and hardly need overtime any more. The line’s proving to be highly profitable as well. Thanks to lean production, we’ve been able to reduce labour costs to half of what they were when the line was started up in the summer of 2009. In comparison with our second ketchup line, the labour costs are now about 75 percent lower. This Krones line is truly a flagship installation for ketchup bottling in glass containers. A successful solution.”

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