Decisions are made quickly at Schweppes Australia. Soon after the first KHS Innofill DVD can filler had proved itself in practice after going into operation at the company’s Huntingwood plant near Sydney in 2010, decisions were consistently made in favor of KHS over the next three years. Each year a new order was placed: in 2011 and 2012 for the production site in Tullamarine on the edge of Melbourne and in 2013 for the Welshpool facility outside Perth in Western Australia. This means that KHS is now represented by its cutting-edge filling technology at the company’s three largest bottling operations.
The story of Schweppes started in 1783 in Switzerland with Johann Jacob Schweppe who began filling soda water into bottles in Geneva. In 1792 he moved his company to London and from there the brand made its way to what was then the crown colony of New South Wales in 1877, where the first factory was opened in Sydney. Schweppes Australia is now number two in the soft drinks segment down under with about 25% of the market share. Schweppes Australia has been part of Japan’s Asahi Group Holdings since 2009. In 2013 Australian businesses Schweppes Australia (soft drinks) and Asahi Premium Beverages (alcoholic beverages), the latter part of Asahi Group Holdings, were integrated into Asahi Beverages. Schweppes Australia employs over 1,800 people at nine sites and produces over a billion liters of non-alcoholic beverages per annum.
Schweppes Australia’s range of products features a whole host of well-known brand names, such as the iconic Schweppes product portfolio, SOLO, Spring Valley, the Real Iced Tea Co., Cool Ridge, Frantelle and Cottee’s Cordial.
“It was clear to us from the beginning that the filling and process equipment had to come from a single source. This means that we avoid any interfacing problems right from the start.”
Wayne Angus, General Manager Manufacturing, Schweppes Australia
The company also produces Pepsi, Gatorade and Sunkist under license and distributes Monster Energy within Australia. The company has over forty product groups in its portfolio, from fruit juices and soda pops to various waters and energy drinks.
Australian consumers can find Schweppes’ own brands and licensed products the company fills and packages at its factories across the continent just about anywhere – from gas stations through supermarkets to posh restaurants. Schweppes sells about 40% of its beverages in cans, with a further 45% marketed in PET bottles and 15% in the one-way glass bottle. The canning business in particular has prompted Schweppes Australia to invest in new can fillers in the last few years. In the end it was KHS’ worldwide renown for manufacturing high-performance can fillers which triggered the procurement of the KHS flagship, the Innofill Can DVD. The chief criteria which convinced Schweppes that this can filler was the right choice are:
- High line availability
“We immediately saw that at the top capacity of 90,000 cans per hour we need, this filling system works extremely reliably in three-shift operation,” states Wayne Angus, General Manager Manufacturing at Schweppes Australia. Trust in KHS expertise had thus been established; deciding to place further orders with the German company was then all the easier. Schweppes’ specifications for the three next filling systems were only slightly lower; they had to be able to process 1,200 cans a minute (72,000 cans per hour) on 108 filling valves.
Schweppes Australia also finds it very important that it can react quickly to the market as different shapes and sizes of can are often in demand. The most popular of these is the 0.375-liter can, with the clear majority of cans leaving the canning factory in this format.
The KHS systems manage this diversity with ease, enabling Schweppes to quickly switch from one format to another. Format and guide parts, such as those required for thinner slim cans, can also be changed over fast. The machines were suitably prepared on commissioning and Schweppes can react to the many demands of its customers practically at the push of a button.
The filling system can also switch between non-carbonated and carbonated soft drinks and can even can alcohol products ranging from beer through wine, sparkling wine to mixed alcoholic beverages.
- Filling precision
Another aspect which plays an important role for the customer is that the Innofill Can DVD measures the filling volume of each individual can thanks to the application of inductive flow metering. The result is a standard deviation of only 0.8 milliliters. This means that not a drop too many goes into the can and not a single cent is wasted.
- Product quality
With carbonated beverages the filling pressure is calibrated to precisely match the required CO₂ content. There are smooth paths from ring bowl to filling valve and all product-conducting channels to the membrane and sealing technology within the valve are aseptic.
Schweppes Australia also ordered Innopro Paramix C dosing and blending systems to go with its four can fillers which deaerate, mix, and carbonate according to over a thousand possible recipes. “This will be enough for all time – even for such an innovative company as Schweppes Australia!” says General Manager Manufacturing Angus with a smile.
He also believes that Schweppes and KHS share a distinct innovative spirit. “We value KHS’ technical systems as highly as the company’s drive for innovation which – like us – attaches great importance to sustainability. We also benefit from KHS having a branch in Australia which provides great local service.” Schweppes also appreciates the fact that “prior to each investment KHS provides us with a comprehensive consultancy program which continues throughout the entire service life of our machinery and line technology.”
At the last installation in 2012 in Western Australia KHS also not only retrofitted new components into existing lines, as in the previous cases, but also replaced the depalletizer (Innopal ASH). The system was then supplemented by a palletizer which consists of several Innopal RK 4 and RS 3 robots.
Schweppes Australia is reckoning on further growth. “In the last few years we’ve gained considerable additional market shares in the Australian soft drinks business,” explains Wayne Angus.