Whether filling, labelling or packaging – from 26 to 29 April 2022, beverage producers and manufacturers of liquid food products will find tailored solutions for every process step and every kind of container at Anuga FoodTec. The exhibitors of the leading international supplier trade fair for the food and beverage industries will ensure greater efficiency, more operating comfort and optimal product safety with a whole series of innovations. In addition to this comes the rapidly growing number of formats with which the requirements for the flexibility of the aseptic filling systems also increase.
The latest technical updates make it possible for machinery in the beverage industry to adapt to as many different containers as possible and fill the most varied products – from carbonated refreshment drinks to water. Step-by-step, the system manufacturers are networking production processes with the help of digital and smart technologies, so that machines can communicate and coordinate with one another more efficiently. With regard to product safety, the solutions presented at Anuga FoodTec 2022 embody the state-of-the-art of aseptic technology. Where required, they are also proficient in wet or dry sterilisation and work in the high or low-performance range.
Filling under hygienic conditions
Mixed milk beverages, juices, smoothies and near-water products present especially stringent requirements for hygienic filling, as Manfred Härtel from KHS knows. As Product Manager Filling, Härtel is responsible for all filling technology at the Dortmund filling and packaging systems manufacturer.
"Filling under aseptic conditions, in particular, is a protecting process for recontamination-free filling and sealing“, he explains – a technology for which there are hardly any alternatives. In order to ensure the safe filling of sensitive beverages, the linear fillers of KHS can be blocked with a rotative stretch blowing machine. Thanks to the blocking, a possible introduction of contaminants are minimised, which has a positive effect on hygiene and system availability. A transfer module developed for this purpose harmonises the continuous flow of PET bottles with the step-by-step filling process. The containers are divided up into units of ten pieces each in the process with the help of a handover carousel. In keeping with the industry wish for greater flexibility, the module is available in three variants: for blocking with the stretch blowing machine, with an additional outflow for the Plasmax coating machine or an optional bottle inflow that makes it possible to process both PET and HDPE bottles.
The requirements for volumetric dispensing modules in the filling systems are also high. Thus, for example, the required output quantity must be precisely maintained at high frequencies, which is a challenge, especially for highly viscous liquids and chunky ingredients. In-line dispensers that function completely automatically and aseptically and are installed between processing and filling machines assume this task. Dual filling systems of this kind are equipped with two separate filling modules, which are located in the same microbiological isolator; the first dispenses the pieces of fruit or cereals, while the second completes the aseptic filling process by adding the carrier fluid.
More room to manoeuvre for ESL beverages
The Whitebloc Aero from GEA is also based on proven aseptic technology but was optimised for the specific requirements of ESL (Extended Shelf Life) products. The kicker: the bottle sterilisation with the help of dry H2O2 and the subsequent activation with hot air are possible in one and the same carousel. Sterilisation, filling and sealing take place in a clean room, in which sterile air that is evenly guided upwards under slight overpressure ensures the maintenance of the hygienic and protected environment. Depending upon the product sensitivity and the required minimum shelf-life, various sterilisation goals can be defined to determine which are best suited depending upon the acidity of the products.
Reusable PET containers, which are primarily used for carbonated soft drinks and water, have acquired a large market share in the past decade. However, PET packaging has played a more subordinate role for ESL products to date. A research project from Krones should now change this. Together with the cooperation partner, the plant manufacturer from Neutraubling was able to develop a reusable PET container that provides sensitive products optimal protection in the cooling chain. A special focus of Ines Bradshaw, responsible development engineer at Krones, was on the cleaning process of the containers, because: "PET is less heat-resistant than glass. We, therefore, had to find a way to ensure a high degree of microbiological safety and a large number of cycles at lower cleaning temperatures.“
This was successful thanks to the right choice of the cleaning parameters, especially with regard to the alkaline solution concentration, additive and mechanical impact. In microbiological terms, the PET bottles that had already gone through 25 cycles could not be distinguished from new ones.
"Temperatures of around 60 degrees Celsius are now adequate to reliably remove dried protein, fat and starch contamination from the containers“, according to Bradshaw. The project has reached an important milestone with this demonstration of practicability and is now ready for the next big step: the preparations for the technical field test are proceeding at full speed.
On manufacturing, filling and packaging
From processing technology, filling systems and packaging machinery to IT solutions – the exhibitors of Anuga FoodTec 2022 are planning and realising complete lines that cover every step of production. Visitors facing the question of whether they should invest in a new system or the refitting of the existing system experience first-hand which solutions there are for the beverage and food industries on the Cologne fairgrounds. The filling technology for PET and glass containers, as well as cans, is complemented by an extensive portfolio of the machines required for the labelling, packaging and palletising of the finished containers.
With around 1,000 exhibitors, Anuga FoodTec offers the complete technology spectrum for the manufacture and packaging of food products and beverages from 26 to 29 April 2022. The trade fair will present itself in 2002 as a "special edition", and thus as a linking up of the compact physical trade fair with the high-reach digital platform AnugaFoodTec @home. The trade fair will be accompanied by a high-quality specialised event and congress programme.