Molson Coors is one of the biggest brewery groups in the world. The Serbian plant run by its subsidiary Apatinska Pivara Apatin has relied on technology engineered by KHS for over four decades. As a result of extensive modernization measures, Apatin Brewery has optimized its line efficiency and product quality. The traditional brewery also benefits from improved hygiene and savings in energy and media.
The cooperation between Apatin Brewery and the Dortmund systems supplier dates back to the 1970s and KHS’ predecessor companies Holstein & Kappert and Seitz Enzinger Noll Maschinenbau AG (SEN), who in 1993 merged to form KHS. When the brewery decided to modernize a few of its machines in 2014 — some of them almost 20 years old — it sought sustainable systems from KHS. The mechanical engineering company first renewed two glass lines, and in 2020 the customer then invested in the Innofill Can DVD can filler. “Our old machines could no longer meet our current demands regarding product quality, performance, and sustainability,” said Tanja Popović, packaging manager at Apatin Brewery. “Together with our colleagues from KHS, we devised a sophisticated concept for modernizing our lines.”
KHS started revamping the first glass line back in 2014. The goal was to reduce media and electricity consumption on the bottle washer. By installing ECO carriers, the KHS engineers optimized the resource efficiency and economy of the system. “The machine now not only uses less water and fewer additives, but it also consumes less energy,” said Bojan Culibrk, KHS’ local service manager.
Just four years later, Apatin Brewery took the next step towards sustainable production by modernizing one of its glass fillers. The KHS specialists replaced the old vacuum pump with a new ECO variant that feeds process water back into the system after treatment. “On the one hand, we’ve cut media consumption, and on the other, the filler is now more economical and efficient,” said Culibrk. The ECO vacuum pump proved so convincing that the Serbian bottler also procured this equipment for its second glass filler.
The brewery also commissioned KHS to install a new capper turret. “This is a lot easier to clean than the previous model,” Culibrk explained. “It lowers the risk of product contamination, and as a result, hygiene is improved.” Furthermore, KHS was also able to optimize the cap quality on the glass bottles.
In addition to improved hygiene and product quality, the Serbian beverage producer also wanted to automate its plant technology. They accomplished this by using HMI panels integrated on the glass lines and new can filler. According to Popović, this makes the machine easier for operators to use, as sequences are automated and many have been digitized. “The new programs for product changeover, sanitizing and filling speed up our processes. Using this state-of-the-art technology, we achieve a much higher level of production efficiency and avoid unplanned downtime thanks to improved safety and reliability in filling,” said Popović. The HMI system also detects wear parts in advance, meaning that replacements can be ordered in good time.
In 2020, the brewery invested in an Innofill Can DVD filler. “We had to boost our capacity in this segment to meet the growing demand for beverages in cans,” Popović said. “With our new filler, we can process up to 25,000 0.5-liter cans an hour. We’re also more efficient and sustainable.”
According to the company’s own statistics, the output runs to more than two million hectoliters per annum. On the Innofill Can DVD, the brewery fills all its brands into containers holding 0.33 and 0.5 liters.
Besides the high throughput, hygiene and product quality also played a key role when making the new investment. The Innofill Can DVD permits warm filling of beverages at around 20°C. This method becomes more significant, particularly regarding the further processing stages, as it eliminates the formation of condensation. This rules out the risk of cartons, trays, and cans in six-packs growing soggy, forming mold, or being contaminated by microbes.
The brewery is convinced that the new CO2 purging process has an equally positive impact on the product quality. “Oxygen pickup impairs the quality of the beverage,” said Culibrk. “To prevent this, modern production containers are purged with CO2.” The KHS purging process is so efficient that less oxygen enters the containers than conventional methods despite lower amounts of carbon dioxide being used. Moreover, the volumetric filling principle also improves the filling accuracy.
The can filler was installed under restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Thanks to our local presence in Serbia and the Balkans, we were able to carry out all work quickly and efficiently. Travel restrictions and social distancing, of course, presented us with a challenge or two during our day-to-day activities. However, together with the customer, we managed to bring the project to a successful close within the given schedule,” Culibrk said.
Popović also draws a positive conclusion. “The dedication and commitment shown by the KHS team have left a lasting impression on us. We were always able to rely on them and their expertise.”
Filed Under: HMIs • operator interfaces • monitors