World’s Fastest Aseptic PET Lines with Dry Preform Decontamination

China’s Jin Mai Lang recently installed two complete aseptic PET lines, both leveraging Sidel’s dry preform decontamination system known as Aseptic Combi Predis™.

These Sidel lines, both integrated with Tetra Pak Processing System technologies, deliver an impressive production output of 60,000 bottles/hr – making them the world’s fastest aseptic PET lines with dry preform decontamination for low-acid products. These complete solutions, alongside newly designed PET bottles, another courtesy of Sidel, helped the key player in the Chinese beverage market to increase production capacity of their low- and high-acid products packaged in PET, while lowering their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Impressed by the benefits gained through this installation, Jin Mai Lang recently invested in another three Sidel aseptic complete lines, running at the same speed.

The Chinese beverage market grew significantly between 2017 and 2018, experiencing +3% in sales volume and +5% in sales value. This positive trajectory was mainly driven by a few beverage categories, including RTD tea which showed a remarkable 7% growth within a single year. It is no surprise then that one of the biggest Chinese beverage and food manufacturers, Jin Mai Lang, recently needed to increase their production capacity around their black and green tea, plus various kinds of flavoured water, to match the rising local demands.

Even before this recent installation, Jin Mai Lang was bottling in PET through Sidel’s hot-fill, wet aseptic, and ultraclean technologies. “We started our successful partnership with Sidel back in 2006,”remembers Xianguo Fan, Chairman of Jin Mai Lang. “Thanks to this 13-year cooperation, which has been materialized in many repeat orders, we currently have more than fifty pieces of Sidel equipment running in our factories, including seven complete PET ultraclean lines and 20 hot-fill PET lines. Over the years, we have built complete confidence in Sidel, recognising the quality and the reliability of their equipment, their innovation-driven mind set, as well as their local support and service capabilities.”

For this new installation, the Chinese beverage company chose Sidel’s proven, safe, and sustainable Aseptic Combi Predis within the two complete aseptic PET lines, benefitting from dry preform decontamination. The lines have been installed in the company’s factories in Tianchang and Cuiping, located in the Anhui and Henan Province, respectively.

“We wanted to minimize our TCO by relying on a sustainable and energy efficient piece of equipment that uses very few chemicals and no water during production. For us, this choice translated to significant savings,” Mr. Fan explains. As an FDA-validated solution already accounting for more than 150 references globally, the Sidel Aseptic Combi Predis offers versatile production to the top Chinese player, who is now able to manage six different SKUs, including three different bottle designs for the 500-mL format and a total of six different flavours. This flexibility is also made possible by significantly reduced changeover times: less than 30 min are required for a bottle format changeover on the Combi. In addition, to secure maximum uptime without compromising absolute food safety, the Aseptic Combi Predis units integrated in both complete PET lines at Jin Mai Lang’s factories have already been successfully validated for 165 continuous production hours.

Benefitting from more than 40 years of experience in aseptic complete lines and thousands of installations successfully operating worldwide, Sidel designed the new lines around Jin Mai Lang’s specific requirements, starting with the customer’s need for maximum performance. Safe and hygienic, the two lines offer an integrated solution from product preparation and treatment through the packaging line up to tertiary packaging. On top of the Aseptic Combi Predis solution, both Sidel lines integrate Tetra Pak Processing Systems (TPPS) technologies, the CapdisTM dry cap decontamination system,a sleever, as well as wrap-around packer and palletizing equipment. Most important, the lines are extremely flexible, allowing the production of all the low acid-products in the company’s portfolio. Moreover, they are engineered for long-term performance, improving OEE while minimizing TCO. The two complete aseptic PET lines started production between the end of 2018 and mid-2019, both featuring more than 95% efficiency while delivering 60,000 bottles/hr.

When highlighting the second big challenge for this customer, Steven Xie, Sidel Packaging Director, explains, “Jin Mai Lang also wanted to refresh the ten-year-old designs applied to their iced and green tea PET bottles. They realised they were no longer perceived as eye-catching by young local consumers, who represent their target group. To address this, Sidel provided a 360° packaging service including more than 15 conceptual and technical designs, pilot bottle tests, and three pilot molds. By taking advantage of the freedom of shape offered by the PET dry preform decontamination process, we helped the customer revamp their product range without increasing the bottle weight, which stays below 18 grams.”

The result is a very modern and dynamic look and feel for increased attractiveness and brand recognition on crowded retailer shelves. A clean and round shoulder is now combined with a bottle base enriched with an embossed pair of glasses, appealing to younger generations of consumers. Economic benefits were also high on the agenda when developing the designs: with this in mind, the sleeve height has been decreased for further cost savings. For additional flexibility and to welcome future needs, the iced tea bottle design has been developed to be applicable to both hot-filling and aseptic packaging production processes.

“We worked hand in hand with Sidel through every stage of the project,” Mr. Fan says. “We especially valued the many meetings we held with the packaging, marketing, and technical teams to define the correct project specifications. Sidel’s quick responses and adaptability to our requirements resulted in a very smooth project management."

In addition to a very close support all along the start-up phase, Sidel provided extensive training of the Jin Mai Lang operators at the customer’s plant to help their workers operate the aseptic lines integrating dry preform decontamination, a technology they were not familiar with. “The two lines have been delivered according to schedule, showing that our combination of customer proximity and global expertise is a winning recipe. Thanks to our strong aftersales support, we achieved production results that exceeded the customer’s expectations. We demonstrated that we are really a customer-centric company” concludes Emily Liu, Sidel Account Manager for Jin Mai Lang.

The future for the leading Chinese beverage producer and Sidel is looking bright: they were extremely pleased with the successful cooperation, so much so that they opted for three further Sidel complete aseptic PET lines, all delivering 60,000 bph, and even selected Sidel as one of their strategic packaging and mould suppliers for the next three years.

 

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