No results

    Flexible system for sensitive beverages

    You need to accept cookies to use this functionality.

    Krones has married its market-leading aseptics technology for stretch blow-moulders to the advantages offered by the latest Contiform generation. The compact-size, ultra-flexible Contipure AseptBloc, which has met with keen interest ever since it was presented at the drinktec 2022, is based on this felicitous synthesis.

    More and more, consumers are reaching for minimally processed juices, dairy products or plant-based drinks from the refrigerated display cases – all of which fall into the category of “sensitive beverages”. According to market researchers, this trend is set to continue. The worldwide markets for sports and non-dairy drinks, yoghurt smoothies and ready-to-drink coffees and teas, in particular, exhibit above-average growth rates. That is reflected in an increased demand for aseptic filling lines, which make sure the sensitive products processed on them retain their top-notch quality all the way to the consumer. Krones’ response to this trend is the second generation of the Contipure AseptBloc, which combines stretch blow-moulder, filler and closer to fill the products into PET containers in an aseptically safe, closed process.

    Image 34669
    Plant-based milk alternatives and other sensitive beverages must be filled under particularly hygienic conditions.

    Bringing together the best of two worlds

    In physical terms, the new Contipure AseptBloc has been slimmed down substantially as compared to its predecessor: It weighs quite a few tons less and takes up much less space. Even though it boasts a more affordable price, its internals leave nothing to be desired. As before, the integrated aseptics technology goes far beyond the customary standards. From preform sterilisation through to the point where the closed PET bottles are discharged from the block, the products are passed through a single, closed process that ensures aseptic safety right down to the tiniest detail. The main new characteristic is the block’s extensive range of capabilities: It can handle container sizes of up to 3.5 litres, and the filling speed can be set in fine gradations. Depending on the design concerned, it can be made up of four to 30 blow-moulding stations. When the stretch blow-moulder is a Speed version, the maximum output – determined by the product filled – can be up to 72,500 containers per hour. The Contipure AseptBloc system’s continuous running time is up to one week before a cleaning and sterilisation routine is necessary, which will take between 90 minutes and two and a half hours, depending on the products handled. Just 30 minutes of interim sterilisation time are needed for a cavity change-over during production. The Contipure AseptBloc can be used all over the world. It possesses FDA certification and also meets the stringent requirements applying in Japan. And it is, of course, able to process 100 per cent recycled PET.

    The key element in the newly developed system is a revamped aseptic stretch blow-moulder, the second generation of the Contiform Asept. In brief, it brings together the best of two worlds: the field-proven technology, user-friendliness and flexibility of the latest Contiform and the hygiene features of the Contiform Asept’s first generation. The expertise gained from over 450 systems up and running all round the globe has been incorporated in the new combination’s aseptics technology. Its salient characteristic is lighter materials and designs at the blowing module. The concept of a lightweight blow-moulding station was taken over from the new Contiform and matched to the hygienic requirements concerned. The reduction in weight means that the rotational forces encountered are smaller, enabling higher station outputs and higher overall speeds to be achieved. It also makes for a smaller footprint and lighter weight of the entire system.

    At first glance, the exterior of the new Contiform Asept is similar to that of the latest Contiform generation – “same look, same feel”, to quote the product experts. It is especially customers operating both aseptic lines and standard lines who appreciate that handling routines are largely similar for both machines.

    Consistently pursued sterile handling

    Product integrity is the most important criterion in aseptics design. And this system does not compromise whatsoever on this, as Peter Igl from the product marketing team for the new Contipure AseptBloc explains: “According to the Krones philosophy, you have either a sterile or a non-sterile process. There is no grey area between the two which might put the product at risk.” That is why the entire block – from preform sterilisation right through to the closer – is accommodated in an isolating enclosure with integrated air filters, which is flooded with sterile air prepared by an air treatment system. This isolator is instrumental in ensuring an uninterrupted running time of up to one week. In the new Contiform Asept, any movable parts are aseptically separated from their surroundings by means of a water seal. Dry sterilisation with gaseous hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as the only medium is used for all of the station’s components directly involved in the blow-moulding process. The Contiform Asept is equipped with a revamped airlock so as to make sure the bottles are discharged without any loss of sterility.

    Image 34649
    The isolator, the blow-moulding stations and the pipes for blow-moulding air are sterilised.

    Special focus is placed on hygiene outside the isolator, too. The preform feed unit is completely closed and features controlled distribution for the HEPA-filtered air flows to prevent any particles penetrating. The heart of the Contipure AseptBloc is the Contipure D system which sterilises the preforms with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) from all sides: their interior, their exterior and their neck area. The three-starwheel design ensures that the preforms’ necks are gripped at different points as the preforms move through the process, so that the H2O2 can touch the necks’ entire surface.

    All components involved in the blow-moulding process – moulding cavity, stretching rod and valve block, blow nozzle and channels for high-pressure air – can be completely sterilised. High-pressure sterile air ensures optimum hygienic conditions for container blow-moulding. The stretching rods which move into the preforms likewise work exclusively in the sterile zone. They are automatically sterilised over their entire length as part of the line sterilisation routine.

    The aseptic filler offers the commonly used filling valves for a most varied array of products, also for those containing small chunks. Since the filler possesses its own CIP module, a separate CIP system is not required. The filling valves are sterilised with steam. Dry sterilisation by means of H2O2 is used for the isolator compartment and for the closures, which are blown out with ionised air beforehand. The aseptic closer is in Krones Hygienic Design.

    Image 34650
    Blow-moulding process in a sterile environment (coloured green)

    Resource-economy married to efficiency

    The Contipure AseptBloc boasts not only a smaller physical footprint, its resource-efficiency has also been optimised. Since the channels through which the high-pressure air is passed are sterile, the compressed air is kept sterile throughout and can be re-used. This air-recycling feature reduces compressed-air consumption – and thus the amount of energy needed – by up to 35 per cent.

    The skip-and-run technology reduces the scrap rate in the Contiform Asept stretch blow-moulder, as it does in the latest generation of the Contiform. It makes sure that a wrongly placed preform in the moulding cavity does not automatically trigger an immediate emergency stop, which would necessitate the disposal of all bottles and preforms currently being processed. Instead, the incorrectly locked blow-moulding station passes along the main cam, ejects the defective preform and is then ready for the next round again.

    As an optional extra, the filler can be fitted with the accurate-to-the-very-last-bottle function. Here, the system uses the product quantity to calculate how many PET containers and closures must still be sterilised. That saves material because at the end of the filling process every bit of material has been used up: product, bottles and closures.

    Robots and artificial intelligence

    The concepts for fast cavity change-overs have also been taken over from the Contiform. They can be performed either manually without tools or automated using the MouldXpress robot, which needs less than half a minute per blow-moulding station for replacing the moulding cavity, meaning just half the time a manual procedure would take. With a 24-part blowing module, that would save a total of twelve minutes per change-over – time which is then available for the 30-minute interim sterilisation routine. And any delays caused by operating errors have not even been factored into this calculation.

    Another optional extra is the intelligent Contiloop AI process control system. Like properly trained staff, it automatically adjusts the parameters of the stretch blow-moulding process in case the blow-moulded PET containers’ quality deviates from the specified values. What is behind this function is a control agent based on artificial intelligence, which is trained at Krones using a wide variety of different process settings. This automatic process control scores highly, in particular when recycled PET is processed, which often exhibits variations in composition and quality.

    Contipure AseptBloc – Flexible solution for sensitive beverages in PET


    • Container size up to 3.5 litres 
    • Up to 72,000 containers (max. two litres) per hour 
    • Able to process beverages containing chunks of up to 10 x 10 x 10 millimetres 
    • Suitable for rPET
    • High availability levels: 
      • Uninterrupted sterile production for up to one week 
      • Interim sterilisation routine due to format change-over takes a mere 30 minutes 
    • FDA certification

    Low energy and media consumption:

    • Compressed-air consumption reduced by up to 35 per cent, thanks to air recycling
    • No water needed
    • Hardly any residues: optional extra of accurate-to-the-very-last-bottle production 
    • Reduced scrap rate, thanks to skip-and-run technology 

    You can easily send a request for a non-binding quotation in our 

    Request new machine