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    Testing dairy products, plant-based milk alternatives and juices

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    At the Process Technology Center in Neutraubling, companies can develop and test recipes for beverages and liquid food products.
    • The fully equipped Process Technology Center in Neutraubling is designed to serve any and all beverage and liquid food producers wishing to test new recipes in ultra-small batches.

    Since last year, a dedicated testing center for process technology at Krones’ Neutraubling plant has been helping beverage and liquid food manufacturers take their product development to the next level. And now it’s high time we took you on an in-depth tour of the Process Technology Center.

    Imagine this: You work for a beverage company and have an idea for a new oat drink recipe. Before the drink can be produced in commercial quantities, you first have to test the idea on a small scale. And this is where many companies get stuck. It’s not at all cost effective to run tests like this on their own industrial-sized lines – the volumes involved would simply be too small and the interruptions to ongoing production too great. Not every company is in a position to have its own in-house development lab – certainly not start-ups that are only just dipping their toes into the market.

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    It’s easy to test new recipe ideas in ultra-small quantities in the Process Technology Center.

    Develop, compare, optimize

    That is the very problem that Krones sought to solve by opening the Process Technology Center in Neutraubling: “The new product development center is designed to support beverage and liquid food companies by enabling them to run ultra-small batches of recipes under development,” explains Ute Bedö, who is part of the product development team within Krones Process Technology and responsible for the technology center. One potential use case would be to tailor new products to the flavor preferences of any given market. “Just recently, we did a test run with a customer who had already purchased process technology equipment from Krones for producing milk alternatives. The customer used the Process Technology Center to test various recipes before taking the final versions into production on their own line,” recounts Ute Bedö. It’s an ideal example – but the center isn’t only for companies with existing recipes. “We are also happy to help companies that are still at the start of the product development journey and would like to leverage Krones’ expertise for those first steps,” says Ute Bedö.

    Krones, too, is putting the lab to use for its own in-house research. “It allows us to more deeply analyze the impacts of various process parameters on different products. The results will then go into further developing and refining Krones machines and lines,” explains Bedö.

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    Ute Bedö is part of the product development team within Krones’ Process Technology business unit and responsible for the technology center.

    From milk, plant-based milk alternatives, juices or even soft-serve ice cream to hotfill products like sauces and ketchup – we can make it in the pilot plant. Erwin HächlUte BedöResponsible for the Process Technology Center in Neutraubling

    Flexible setup for any application

    Flavor, color, shelf life – there are myriad reasons why one might heat up a product. And there is a similar multitude of ways to do so. In the Process Technology Center, we can realistically simulate various process and treatment steps on a pilot UHT system. That makes it possible, for example, to compare the thermal impact of indirect heating using a shell-and-tube heat exchanger versus direct heating using steam injection or steam infusion.

    For other trials, the Technology Center is also equipped with systems for mixing, flash pasteurisation, deaeration, homogenization and filling. The results are then evaluated in-house, for example in Krones’ own microbiological and chemical testing labs.

    “The entire line is extremely flexible in terms of the process. From milk, plant-based milk alternatives, juices or even soft-serve ice cream to hotfill products like sauces and ketchup – we can make it in the pilot plant,” says Ute Bedö. “Every product is different, and it’s great how, with relatively little effort, we can test so many different recipes and therefore continuously gain new knowledge.”

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