To keep pace with phenomenal sales gains in bottled water AquaPenn Spring Water Co. built a 108-sq' headquarters/bottling plant in Milesburg PA. Opened in May '95 the plant houses five bottling lines. At the heart of the most advanced line is a bloc system used for the company's two highest-volume retail offerings 20-oz and 1/2-L bottles of polyethylene terephthalate. AquaPenn is the first bottled water producer to use the bloc system from Krones (Franklin WI). It includes cleaning filling and capping equipment mounted to a common base. The bloc operates at speeds to 600/min for the 1/2-L size 480/min for the 20-oz version considerably quicker than the 320/min and 280/min rates achieved on a line at AquaPenn's former plant in State College PA. "The machinery on that line was limited in terms of its bottle handling" explains company president chairman and founder Ed Lauth. "Lightweight PET bottles are difficult to handle prior to filling. We had bottles falling off the conveyor and jamming equipment. This caused downtime and reduced our line efficiencies." Another limiting factor he says was that the older line was used to fill five bottle sizes. "Changeovers limited efficiency so now we run only our two highest-volume bottles on the Krones line. It can also fill a 12-ounce size that we produce in small volumes on another line." Meanwhile the former line has been upgraded. At the new plant that line is now dedicated to 1- and 1.5-gal PET bottles that don't require the speeds achieved by the Krones bloc system.