Is Batch Size 1 a realistic option on a bottling line? And if so, can it ever be commercially viable? If you ask the development people at Krones, then in both cases the answer is yes. In order to substantiate this bold assertion, they will at the drinktec be showcasing the Bottling on Demand concept study, which innovatively explores the limits of practical flexibility.
Individualised filling without change-overs
Its core elements include a newly developed filling valve. But what differentiates this filling valve from all the others is its exceptional versatility. It’s supplied through one main and up to four secondary channels, each of which can be individually dosed. Depending on the filler’s intended purpose, this creates three highly disparate advantages:
Soft drinks and other mixed beverages can be produced directly in the filler itself: the water content enters the valve through the main channel, while the individual aromatic components are each dosed through the secondary channels in the correct quantities.
There’s also an option for feeding in different final syrup variants via the valve’s secondary channels. This enables the client to switch back and forth between different products without a make-ready routine being required.
For everyone who wants to exploit product individualisation to the full, the system features an additional option: It’s possible, for instance, to provide different components via the valve’s secondary channels, and to determine individually the precise composition of the beverage for each bottle. “Here we’re thinking primarily of the premium or luxury segment at brand owners,” explains Stefan Pöschl, Head of Technology Development at Krones. “It would be conceivable, for instance, to adapt the recipes of sport or medicinal drinks to precisely suit the consumer’s needs and preferences.” This does not entail any problems in terms of evidencing the constituents involved: direct printing on each bottle enables the client to individually identify what recipe the consumer ultimately holds in his/her hands.
Interactive experience at the fair
How specifically the principle of Bottling on Demand is implemented in a line will depend upon many different factors, particularly the products and goals of the plant concerned. Bottling on Demand enables a broad spectrum of beverage variants to be produced on a single line – in minimised batches and in swift succession
In order to offer the visitors maximally comprehensive insights into the new options involved, the exhibit at the drinktec is composed of several different elements: the machinery itself features not only the filling station, but also a direct printing module and a newly developed conveyor system. In addition, the system on show identifies each container with an individual RFID code. Linking it up to an ordering system turns the exhibit into an interactive experience.