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    Image credits:

    Coca-Cola HBC


    Convert lines in record time with LineXpress

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    28. June 2022
    3:35 min.

    Producing and distributing more than 2-billion-unit cases annually and with a desire to constantly innovate, Coca-Cola HBC looks to continuously invest in advanced technologies as one of the pillars of its success. One recent such investment is in the PET Line in the Timisoara (Romania) plant, where Coca-Cola HBC chose LineXpress from Krones.

    Automation played a crucial role in Coca-Cola HBC’s decision in favour of LineXpress. “The fact that fewer human interventions are required in the production process means that the risk of errors is minimised. Moreover, it makes production planning more reliable because the sequences involved can be planned more accurately” explains Theodoros Kappatos, Head of Engineering, Group Supply Chain Coca-Cola HBC. This is because LineXpress uses the material-flow-automation function to predict the materials needed for certain production cycles with absolute precision, reducing both product overflow and excessive material use.

    The automation function at the individual machines and material-flow monitoring are equally important to Coca-Cola HBC, as they increase line output and efficiency and reduce non-productive times.

    Image 28959
    Coca-Cola HBC is constantly looking for ways to optimise its infrastructure and to drive sustainable growth. Image credits:

    Coca-Cola HBC

    The combination of high output, a large variety of different packages and complex change-over routines pushes conventional beverage production lines to their efficiency limits.

    LineXpress from Krones enables customers to change their lines in record time by automating essential processes and taking a holistic approach to organising them. This cuts change-over times to two third, meaning that what previously took 90 minutes can now be performed in just 30 minutes. These shorter change-over times enable production in smaller batches and in a variety of packaging variants with different bottle sizes and designs. 

    The future of beverage production

    Increasing automation in the plant also brings more simplicity, as Sorin Popescu, Timisoara’s Plant Manager, emphasises: “Advanced technology optimises our infrastructure and transforms our existing plants, so we can effectively serve a country or an entire region. This requires us to utilize new and different technologies and processes. We’re always looking to use the advantages offered by automation, for example, to fully exploit a line’s efficiency.”

    Theodoros Kappatos adds: “The future of food and beverage production lies in highly automated sequences, catering to the needs of both customers and consumers. As this is also a more sustainable approach, I believe it is the recipe for success.”

    The next step towards more automation and flexibility in beverage production could be a dedicated CIP station for the new lines, enabling non-productive times to be reduced still further. This also optimises and downsizes the water and energy consumption.

    A visible improvement

    In the interview, Sorin Popescu, Plant Manager, Timisoara, Coca-Cola HBC Romania, and Theodoros Kappatos, Head of Engineering, Group Supply Chain Coca-Cola HBC, talk about LineXpress.

    Where do you see the key advantage of LineXpress?

    Sorin Popescu: Certainly, in automation. The fact that fewer operator interventions are required during changeovers means the risk of human errors is minimised, while consistency is maintained. Moreover, it renders production planning more reliable because the sequences involved can be planned more accurately.

    In material flow automation, the LineXpress system can predict the materials needed to complete a production cycle, thus reducing product overflows and unnecessary material handling, also minimising unnecessary material use.

    Sorin Popescu, Plant Manager at Timisoara Image credits:

    Coca-Cola HBC

    Which impact did LineXpress have on product changes and production scheduling?

    Theodoros Kappatos: The new PET line installed in Timisoara covers all the PET SSD SKUs for entire Romania, which makes it the most complex production line nationwide. Before the ErgoBloc system was installed, production was planned for running the same format in a row rather than the same flavour, but now the new approach is to fill the same flavour into all formats, allowing a higher level of efficiency. There are many production days with three or even four formats for the same flavour, which is now the standardised methodology. We do not only shorten the process as such, but we also take advantage of its benefits at an earlier stage, in a very dynamic and demanding environment. We managed to decrease the total CIP-COP time with two to three times per week, which is a huge step forward.

    Theodoros Kappatos, Head of Engineering, Group Supply Chain Coca-Cola HBC Image credits:

    Coca-Cola HBC

    What is your experience with the new line compared to an existing line? 

    Sorin Popescu: There is a visible improvement, we’ve made a big step forward compared to old-style lines. Whereas it used to take at least 90 minutes to perform a format change-over but filling the same flavour, this can now be done in less than 30 minutes. We even have evidence for a change-over that took 22-23 minutes, which is outstanding at this point, yielding stable and consistent results, sometimes beyond expectations.

    Some say that automation might be too complicated for operations – what would you answer?

    Theodoros Kappatos: I believe automation also brings simplification and we should explore even more the advantages offered by technology and process automation in order to fully exploit the assets that we have available, but also to decrease human intervention and manual operation on the other. This brings more simplification, flexibility and it enables us to work smarter.

    Coca-Cola HBC is a growth-focused consumer packaged goods business and strategic bottling partner of The Coca-Cola Company. Together with its customers, Coca-Cola HBC serves 715 million consumers across a broad geographic footprint of 29 countries on three continents. Its portfolio is one of the strongest, broadest and most flexible in the beverage industry, offering consumer-leading beverage brands in the categories sparkling, juice, water, sport, energy, plant-based, ready-to-drink tea, coffee, adult sparkling and premium spirits. Coca-Cola HBC is ranked among the top sustainability performers in ESG benchmarks such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, CDP, MSCI ESG and FTSE4Good.

    28. June 2022
    3:35 min.

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