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    Suntory Oceanias


    Suntory Oceania’s new carbon-neutral facility in Australia

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    Yatte Minahare – Suntory’s “spirit of bold ambition” – has lent inspiration to the Japanese group’s current project: their first-ever Australian greenfield facility, for which they have ordered no less than three filling and packaging lines from Krones.

    In August 2023, Beam Suntory and Frucor Suntory announced Suntory Oceania, a new multi-beverage partnership across the premium spirits and non-alcohol segments in both Australia and New Zealand. Catalyst for their combined growth ambitions will be the construction of a new carbon-neutral facility in Ipswich, Queensland, worth 400 million Australian dollars (approximately 250 million euros) – the largest single FMCG investment in Australia in over a decade.
    * FMCG: Fast Moving Consumer Goods


    Transcending boundaries in both size and sustainability

    The new site sets the bar high in terms of investment into sustainable technologies to drive efficiency and reduce emissions. The business is taking a multi-pronged strategy through a solar power purchase agreement, over 14km of solar panels on site, biomass boilers and state-of-the-art production equipment at the facility.

    “The concentrated expertise of our vendors and the requisite technology like solar panels and biomass boilers are part of the strategy to target carbon neutrality,” says Suntory Oceania’s Tony Fisher, who heads the manufacturing functions of the greenfield project.

    Solid foundation for long-term growth

    The region’s number one energy drink, V Energy, and favourite alcoholic Ready to Drink (RTD) beverage Suntory -196 will be two of the first brands to be made at the new site in Queensland.

    Once the new manufacturing and distribution facility goes into operation in mid-2024, the site will become home to 18 different RTD drinks over the coming year, including Suntory -196, Canadian Club & Dry, Jim Beam White Label Bourbon & Cola and the entire range of V Energy drinks.

    Image 39117
    “In addition to the popular V Energy drinks, it will mainly be various RTD cocktails that will in future roll off the production lines at Suntory Oceania.” Image credits:

    Suntory Oceanias

    RTD is the fastest growing liquor category, growing at 4.8 per cent in value and holding almost 20 per cent share of all liquor sales in Australia. Beam Suntory has been among the top contributors to value growth in the RTD market for the past two years with its iconic Suntory -196.

    To meet this growing demand, the business is investing in three new Krones lines for their new facility: two canning lines and one non-returnable-glass line.

    Project: Greenfield project, for making primarily ready-to-drink products (RTDs), energy drinks and, starting in 2025, alcoholic RTDs as well
    Customer: Suntory
    Location: Swanbank near Brisbane, Australia
    Commissioning scheduled for: Mid-2024

    Two canning lines, each rated at 90,000 cans per hour, and one non-returnable-glass line, rated at 35,000 bottles an hour


    Canning lines:

    Non-returnable-glass line:

    Complexity and communication

    In view of steadily rising demand for glass bottles and cans in Australia, the business went for these container types. However, the three new Krones lines had to meet many more requirements, first and foremost the customer’s wish to reduce complexity levels. Since the lines are intended to fill and pack an exceptionally large number of products – more than 60 different stock keeping units (SKUs) – change-overs present a particular challenge for the Krones lines.

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    Communication is absolutely essential: To make sure that the new lines reliably meet all the requirements involved, the teams from Krones and Suntory Oceania remain in close contact.

    This huge multiplicity is attributable to the fact that although Australia and New Zealand have a relatively small number of inhabitants, these do in fact buy a wide range of different beverages. “So, our portfolio caters for any size of can, any flavour, any type of pack,” explains Tony Fisher. “That’s why we were looking for ways to ensure maximally automated product change-overs. A number of different features will enable us to be more efficient on the line.”

    Line Management a digital service offered by Krones, is one of those features, supporting the business in their order and material management routines. To give an example: it will automatically pass on recipes and best-before dates to the lines, based on a change-over matrix. “That reduces both operator errors and the time needed for a change-over,” says a gratified Tony Fisher.

    A roll-on-roll-off system (RORO), outsourced and implemented by Krones, is yet another feature that saves time and reduces the need for storage space on site. With it, all the bulk glass bottles and cans are fed directly from the trucks into the lines. At Suntory Oceania, it comprises a total of eight truck docking stations (including consumables disposal), thus obviating the need for a high-bay warehouse.

    Transparent communication is absolutely essential for undertakings of this size, as Jendrik Wujanz, general project manager at Krones for the greenfield site, outlines: “It’s an ultra-demanding project but it’s great to be part of it. Mutual feedback is fair and honest. We all have our sights fixed on a common goal – turning Suntory Oceania into a huge success. That’s what drives us, and that’s a lot of fun.”

    We all have our sights fixed on a common goal – turning Suntory Oceania into a huge success. Erwin HächlJendrik WujanzKrones general project manager

    A smile says more than a thousand words

    Tony Fisher is full of praise: “Krones presented us with a sound overall concept right from the start. As the project proceeded, the Krones team repeatedly set themselves new challenges, asking ‘what else can we automate?’ And then they offered us multiple options, some of them entirely new. This proactive approach and their ambition to translate as many of our wishes as possible into shopfloor reality, that’s something we’re very grateful for.”

    During the factory acceptance tests at Krones’ sites in Neutraubling and Raubling the Suntory Oceania delegation was able to see for themselves the solutions they had ordered – and the smiling faces tell everything there is to tell.

    Some of the automation was fantastic: The change-overs on the Variopac case packers, for example, were absolutely brilliant. Erwin HächlTony FisherHead of Greenfield Manufacturing Project at Suntory Oceania

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    Smiles equal success: During the factory acceptance test, the Suntory Oceania delegation was very satisfied with the progress made on their three filling lines. Image credits: Suntory Oceanias

    “All systems go” in mid-2024

    Commissioning of the three lines will take place in two stages: Production of the non-alcoholic RTDs is scheduled to start as early as in mid-2024, with the V Energy brand going first, to be followed by the alcoholic RTDs in 2025. The plant’s overall output will come to more than 200 million litres. Needless to say, that requires a large number of staff. So, Suntory Oceania plans to hire over 400 new employees.

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