Companies in family ownership have some invaluable advantages: they can make and implement decisions quickly and with little red tape, share their expertise and experience within the family and pass it on to coming generations. And, at the same time, they can cultivate certain idiosyncrasies – such as their first names.
As in the case of the Richmonds in the USA. Father Karl purchased the Silver Springs Bottled Water Company in Florida in 1991. Kirk (COO) and Keith (CIO) are also involved in the companies. Later, son Kane took over the boss’s chair. Kirk’s son Kiel represents the next generation working for Crossroads Beverage Group – the family bottling business established three years ago in Reading, Pennsylvania.
“Our KHS turnkey lines are a success factor which is not to be underestimated.”
“We realized that the retailers in the north-eastern United States were being undersupplied with bottled water and we also had many inquiries in Florida,” recalls Kirk Richmond, COO of Crossroads. “So we decided to establish a second company in the north east.” The brothers started their search for a suitable location in the middle of 2011 – and ordered two KHS turnkey lines at once. “We were certain that we would quickly find the right location and wanted to start bottling without delay,” says Kirk Richmond. “Experience at Silver Springs had shown that our KHS systems there are running at full capacity, are highly efficient, and operate economically. We wanted the same kind of advantages for Crossroads.”
The choice of a former packing factory, including conversion, on 30,000 square meters of land in Reading, equal in size to the area of approximately five soccer fields, has proved to be correct. But on the other hand, the order for two turnkey lines – a multifunction line for 36,000 bottles per hour and a second for 72,000 bottles – was rather shortsighted. “Just six months after starting operations, we were almost running at full capacity,” reports the COO. Consequently, the company ordered another 72,000-bottle KHS turnkey line for filling 0.5-liter bottles in 2012. When designing the line in Reading, the Richmonds once again decided upon particularly lightweight PET bottles – optimized in cooperation with KHS – with a focus on the 0.5-liter bottle weighing a mere 9.1 grams. Incidentally, before optimizing the lightweight with the Bottles & Shapes experts from KHS Corpoplast, the bottle weighed 45% more at 13.2 grams. The brothers’ long-term objective is to achieve 7.5 grams. And – with the latest developments of individual components – they have duplicated the high-efficiency lines in Florida in most areas. The following summarizes the main facts.
1. InnoPET BloFill monoblock: saves weight and energy
In 2008, Silver Springs was the first beverage company in the world to invest in the – at the time – new monoblock with the InnoPET Blomax Series III and the Innofill NV – and later also in the first InnoPET BloFill monoblock with the InnoPET Blomax Series IV. Their main advantages are:
- The space-saving heating module uses near infrared to cut the preform heat-up time by fifty percent and the number of rejected preforms in the event of an emergency stop. The closed heating chamber with all-round reflection ensures particularly efficient heat penetration of the preform. Kirk Richmond says, “This enables us to save 40% energy in direct comparison with the Series III.”
- The servo-controlled stretching process with flexible stretching movement provides exceptionally high process stability.
- Monoblocking with only one modular transfer wheel for removing bottles from the blow molding station enables PET bottles to be transferred smoothly to the filler with the required spacing.
- The air lock reliably separates the dry section of the blow molder from the filling area where the filler is located.
“We can use preforms which are optimized to one-tenth of a gram and particularly lightweight bottles,” praises Kirk Richmond.
2. Innopack Kisters SP Advanced: precise and reliable
Crossroads has now invested in this innovative range three times. Commenting on this, Kirk Richmond says, “However, this is something we did not do with one of our lines at Silver Springs. We now know that the Innopack-Kisters machines have many advantages over other machines.”
At a glance: They are very easy to maintain, easy to handle, robust and low-noise in addition to having little wiring and smaller control cabinets. They are also able to process significantly thinner film with their special film cutting and conveying system. “We are very happy with our shrink packers,” says Kirk Richmond. “They operate extremely reliably, are particularly user-friendly and produce optimal packaging quality and stability with the lowest possible use of materials.”
3. Innopal PB 1 HS: maximum performance with no holds barred
The single-station palletizing robot with pallet lift, elevated pack infeed, and two-piece pusher plate is outstandingly suitable for the high-performance palletizing of sensitive shrink packs. Servo technology and toothed belt drives on the lift unit and loading station ensure high availability and minimum maintenance effort. An upstream, space-saving in-line robot group gently aligns the packs and operates with maximum accuracy.
Summing up this experience, Kirk Richmond says, “For our newly established company, the KHS turnkey lines form the basis for product safety, on-time deliveries, and thus a strong market position. I can only recommend anyone to use high-quality technical solutions right from the start. It is worth it in the end.”
COO of Crossroads in Reading, Pennsylvania, on:
The company philosophy
“Reliable delivery was formerly a crunch point in the northeastern United States. When we arrived on the scene, we committed to deliver on time to every single customer every time. And this is what we do. In addition, with the KHS multifunction line, we can respond flexibly to all individual requirements regarding format and design – and we assist with the creation of bottle design, labels and the configuration of shrink packs.”
The family tradition in water
“My parents, Karl and Margaret, believed in the great potential of bottled water. When they established the Silver Springs Bottled Water Company in Florida in 1991 this business was still in its infancy in the US. My brothers, Kane and Keith, now manage the business there as CEO and CIO, while at Crossroads my son Kiel, represents the next generation.”
The KHS turnkey lines
“The flexibility of the multifunction line with 36,000 bottles per hour including shrink packing to our particular requirements is exemplary. With this line, we produce, bottle, and pack 8, 10, 20 and 24-oz formats as well as 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5-liter variants. On the other hand, with the higher capacity lines, we concentrate exclusively on the 0.5-liter bottle which covers 90% of our total sales.”
“KHS’ Bottles & Shapes program helps us to respond flexibly to the widely differing requirements of the customers – from the initial bottle concept and its development and design to industrial production. This is a decisive competitive advantage for us.”
“Our lightweights impress with top quality, material cost savings, and optimum handling in production and logistics. Nevertheless, we want to make them even lighter. Our goal in the long term, for example, is to achieve a weight of 7.5 grams for the 0.5-liter bottle.”
“Together with Silver Springs, we are already one of the five largest bottling businesses for water in the USA. In the medium to long term, we see ourselves with a nation-wide presence. With regard to space, we have laid the foundations for further expansion with options to buy buildings and land which to date have been rented.”