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    Soft drinks for Amazonia
      Right in the heart of the Brazilian rain forest, in the Amazon basin, the Grupo Simões, a part of Coca-Cola Brazil, has channelled substantial investment into expanding its filling capacities.

      In its Manaus plant, the company commissioned a non-returnable-PET line featuring a Contiform Bloc with the new Contiform 3 blow-moulder in 2014, which was followed in 2015 by a returnable-PET line (Ref-PET) at the same facility and a canning line for the factory in Belém. These two were already the fourth and fifth complete lines supplied by Krones to Grupo Simões within a few short years.

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      Fully-automatic grouping stationTwo non-returnable-PET lines from Krones

      In 2006, Grupo Simões had for the first time commissioned a complete Krones line in Manaus: a returnable-glass line filling 290-millilitre bottles at a speed of 60,000 bottles an hour. The next order for Krones came in 2011: a block-synchronised non-returnable-PET line for the facility in Belém rated at 24,500 containers per hour. In 2015, Grupo Simões additionally commissioned a Krones canning line there with an hourly output of 72,000 cans, which “runs spectacularly well”, as Project Manager Luis Campo puts it.

      The company’s first Contiform 3

      And it was in Manaus, too, that a similar non-returnable-PET line from Krones started operation in early 2015, rated at 25,200 bottles an hour, this time already including the new blow-moulder generation Contiform 3, which provides enhanced flexibility and an increased production output per blow-moulding station while simultaneously downsizing the consumption of both air and energy and reducing product change-over times. Among the features of the new Contiform 3 is an electromagnetic drive for the stretching rods, which means replacing any stretching stoppers is a thing of the past. Thanks to tool-less replacement of the base moulds and the base cups, format change-overs are both simplified and accelerated. The Contiform 3 is block-synchronised with a volumetric Modulfill VFS counterpressure filler.

      Outside the filler room, the containers are distributed onto a bulk conveyor by a Flowliner, with an Accuflow providing the requisite buffering. After the bottles have been spaced and dried in a Linadry, they are dressed in wrap-around labels by a Contiroll HS machine with an automatic reel-exchange feature. A Variopac Pro packs the containers into shrink-packs in a two-lane configuration. A Robobox grouping system then prepares the layers for the Modulpal palletiser, which stacks them onto pallets, with the pallet loads then stabilised in a stretch-wrapper. “Our target was to achieve an efficiency of 92 per cent but in reality we’re reaching 96 per cent,” explains Luis Campo. “Our criteria for the filling lines have been clearly defined: efficiency for one thing, plus high utilisation levels, top-quality products and sustainability – also and especially in regard to water and energy consumption. All of these criteria are met by the Krones lines,” says the Project Manager.

      Ref-PET line rated at 14,000 bottles an hour

      The new Krones ref-PET line in Manaus has been dimensioned for an hourly output of 14,000 2.0-litre bottles. A Robogrip 4A depalletises the used returnable crates, each of which contains nine 2.0-litre bottles. To start with, a small linear rinser removes the coarsest dirt from the crates, which are then cleaned in a Linajet crate washer and inspected by a Checkmat KLK. After that, they are passed to a Smartpac packer. In parallel, the unpacked empty bottles are fed into a decapper with a Sekamat foreign bottle detection unit, and then checked for any contamination by an Aircontronic sniffer using mass spectroscopy. The new bulk ref-PET that arrives in crates from the converter is likewise passed into the line via the depalletiser and the unpacker. All refillable containers are then cleaned in the Lavatec D4 double-end bottle washer. According to Luis Campo, what’s particularly noteworthy about bottle washer technology from Krones is its low water consumption. In the filler room, the cleaned containers are first of all inspected by a Linatronic empty-bottle inspector and then filled by an 80-valve Modulfill HRS counterpressure filler.

      “For me, that kind of dependability means excellence”

      The Ref-PET line started operation in April 2015 and was acceptance-tested in June 2015 with an efficiency of 90 per cent, even exceeding the agreed 85 per cent. “Installation work was completed on time. Krones’ very stringent aspiration is to meet all the time schedules and all the quality parameters agreed,” says an appreciative Luis Campo. “For me, this means excellence. When the first complete Krones line was installed, we got acquainted with each other. With the second line, everything went quite a lot more smoothly, and over the third complete line we fell in love,” says Luis Campo with a grin.

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