he manager of Pilsner Urquell is positive in his assessment. “The newly developed filling process on the Innofill Can DVD has us fully convinced. At the same time, the excellent technological values KHS promised us were confirmed in practical operation. For example, a CO₂ consumption of just 560 g/hl and a TPO* of 80 ppb were recorded for our 500-ml cans. This is a drastic reduction compared to the previous model and to the competition.” The following lists the seven major advantages which have won Pilsner Urquell over to the further improved generation of KHS can fillers.
Pioneering hygienic design
KHS has improved the revolutionary hygienic design developed for the predecessor of the Innofill Can DVD by adding four important new features:
- Machine concept without a front table:
Cleaning is fully automatic. Separate servomotors for the conveyor and feed screw, transfer star, filler and seamer. The motors are encased in stainless steel or located in protective star columns outside the hygiene area. The filler carousel and star columns are connected by cross pipes with no flanges, in which all cables and lines are laid. Hygienically designed sealing systems fully protect the system towards the outside.
- Open can infeed and discharge conveyors:
Both areas have optimum accessibility for cleaning and disinfection.
- Flexible filling valves:
illing valves can be easily fitted to or removed from the valve support. Pneumatic connections for the beverage and process media are made automatically; they are also disconnected automatically when removed. No hosing whatsoever is used in the filling valve sanitary zone. 70% less time is needed to remove and fit filling valves compared to standard systems.
- Patented KHS sanitary room concept:
The interior area of the filler carousel with its supply and control units is outside the actual hygiene area. It is accessible from above for maintenance yet there is no contact with the hygienically critical sections of the machine.
Low residual oxygen levels and minimum CO₂ consumption
Patented CO₂ can purging takes place at a pressure close to atmospheric pressure. The reduced gas density either lowers the CO₂ consumption by up to 30% or the residual oxygen content in the filled can by up to 50%. Both values can also be reduced, depending on the beverage to be canned. Plant manager Hamara sums up, “At first we were very anxious to see if such major improvements could be achieved. However, we were then even able to beat some of the values KHS promised us!” Maximum filling accuracy is ensured by the use of electromagnetic inductive flow metering which is usual in KHS machinery. Twin valve control of the filling valves is standard on the Innofill Can DVD. The result: the maintenance effort for the electropneumatic control unit being halved.
Free of contamination with future-proof technology
In addition to the aforementioned new filling technology, which makes use of an expansion joint, Pilsner Urquell went for the automatic CIP plates option. This involves reliable cleaning of all product and process gas-conducting passages.
Integrated spray nozzles specifically ensure that the outsides of the filling valves and CIP plates are cleaned. The filler thus creates good prospective conditions for an ultraclean environment. Here, Pilsner Urquell is not only exemplary in satisfying its own high standards of hygiene but also in meeting those of its parent company SABMiller.
Flavor resistance a given
Of great importance for Pilsner Urquell – particularly in light of the wide variety of beer and beverage styles it produces – is that seals and membranes are all made of flavor-resistant materials. When changing over to another product after the cleaning process, there is no flavor transfer of any significance. Hamara is full of praise. “We thus don‘t have to worry if, for example, cider is on our filling agenda directly after wheat beer.”
High level of automation
Another decisive advantage of this machine is the great flexibility of the filling valve. An expansion joint is used here, too; this individually regulates the force with which the bell guide is pressed against the can mouth and is geared entirely towards the type of can to be processed.
This means that different formats for steel, aluminum, lightweight and even PET cans, with diameters ranging from 53 to 73 mm, can be set in the shortest time by the centrally configurable recipe management system without the need for mechanical changeovers at the filling valve – unlike the standard filling systems common to the market. The advantage here is maximum line availability – and savings on additional format parts.
Maintenance only every two years
The new filler generation makes considerable savings in cleaning media and consumables. The more durable components also result in longer maintenance intervals – now once every two years as opposed to once a year. This yields a sizable savings potential and a much higher line availability.
Non-pneumatic rejection system for higher line availability
The Innofill Can DVD has an automatic empty can detector which, on pinpointing an empty, sends a corresponding signal to the non-pneumatic, high-speed Innocheck VRS (Vario Reject System) pusher which then reliably discharges the can before it reaches the seamer. This helps to stop the seamer from crashing and prevents any resulting downtimes. Hamara is pleased with the results. “This inspection system again significantly boosts our line efficiency. We also no longer have to remove improperly filled cans by hand.”
To sum up, all of the new and further developments made to the Innofill Can DVD increase the future viability of Pilsner Urquell through sustainable systems and a much higher line availability. “This is of particular importance to us precisely because of the future high growth rates predicted for cans,” Stanislav Hamara summarizes, giving a satisfied smile.
The legendary Pilsner Urquell brand produced by the Plzensky Prazdroj brewery group is synonymous with a traditional, original, international Pilsner culture. The company has been brewing its legendary beer to the same recipe since 1842 and today exports the cult brew to more than 50 countries. A modest portion (10% of the portfolio) leaves the Czech Republic in cans – five times more frequently than ten years ago.
When recently planning to invest in a new canning system Stanislav Hamara, plant manager at the site in Pilsen, soon realized whom he wanted to talk to about his new can filler investment. “After a brief phone call we traveled to drinktec-interbrau in Munich with an entire team of people and were quickly convinced that the new can filler being presented at the trade show by KHS would set new standards and that we would profit from being a pioneer. And this is exactly what happened.”
The new generation of Innofill Can DVD can fillers at Pilsner Urquell now processes up to 60,000 cans per hour on 124 filling stations. Using the patented expansion joint each can is now hermetically sealed around its opening during the filling process. This component also no longer needs any water lubrication and can be included in the CIP or cleaning-in-place sanitizing and sterilizing process. Permanent water lubrication of the filling valves common to can fillers to date – and always considered microbiologically critical – is now also redundant. Hamara: “We wanted a can filler that also meets the high hygienic requirements of our most sensitive beverages, such as non-alcoholic beer and mixed beer beverages, without compromise, especially as we process all of our products without a tunnel pasteurizer. This is why sterile filling of our products is so important.”