One of KHS’ new TriBlock systems has been in production in Albertirsa in Hungary for several months now at Aquarius Aqua, Hungary’s largest beverage bottler for generic brands. Christian Dinges, managing director of KHS Austria and also responsible for the Hungarian market for the systems supplier from Dortmund, Germany, explains. “KHS can score with its new technology here – with a line which combines great flexibility with an extremely compact design and which offers a high degree of availability with reliability and short changeover times.” Whereas lines with blocked systems usually achieve an efficiency of between 90% and 95%, at Aquarius Aqua it was clear right from the start that the customer wouldn’t be happy with anything less than the maximum rating. In 2016 the KHS line with the InnoPET TriBlock thus went into operation with an efficiency level of 97%. “Since then the system has been running with the degree of reliability we associate with KHS, establishing itself as a benchmark for our entire plant with its five lines in total,” stresses József Pintér, manufacturing director und engineering manager of the bottling plant in Albertirsa. “We also make the highest demands of the product quality. Being as familiar as we are with KHS and its processes, we don’t have to worry about this in the slightest.”
No bottle, no label
One of the system’s optional special features – a hybrid system for labeling technology – meets the company’s demand for quality very well. Christian Dinges tells us more. “While two labeling units are normally installed on the machine, this setup enables a labeling unit to be integrated which can process both pre-glued and hot melt, roll-fed labels.” Dinges is especially enthusiastic about the pre-glued technology as a separate gluing unit is no longer required. “Firstly, this reduces the maintenance effort as there are no more glue nozzles which can gum up and have to be cleaned. Secondly, there are no more glue vapors near the open bottles,” he smiles. “This is of course good for the product quality.” In this context Dinges expressly points out that this technology can best be implemented on the KHS InnoPET TriBlock. The no bottle, no label principle is also new, with which the line can continue to run without any hitches even if there are gaps in the bottle flow. Another technical highlight is bottle base cooling in the transfer stars; this prevents bottles which leave the stretch blow molding process at around 70°C and are filled with product with a temperature of just 12°C to 15°C from deforming. “With KHS bottles are cooled on blocked machines by a mixture of air and water or a kind of mist,” is how Dinges describes the KHS innovation. “As opposed to the conventional water jet cooling process, which uses a lot of water, with a consumption of just 1.5 liters per hour and nozzle the KHS process is extremely economical.” In order to permit hygienic filling of sensitive products, such as still mineral water, the blocked system has been housed in a clean room. Finally, in the packer and palletizer section robots are deployed which can form flexible layer patterns with or without pallet liners for various pallet sizes.
Highest capacity in Central Europe
Aquarius Aqua is extremely interested in innovation. The company wasn’t founded until 1991 yet is already the leader on the Hungarian mineral water market with a share of approximately 30%. The same applies to the energy drinks segment with a market share of about 40% and to the flavored water segment where the company even has a market share of 65%. In the soft drinks segment it holds a reputable second place at 24%. In 2007 Aquarius Aqua merged with Buszesz, a traditional, family-owned enterprise from Budapest which has been making vinegar, mineral water and soft drinks for over 150 years.
“With 100,000 square meters of production space and a volume of over 600 million liters per year, here in Albertirsa we have a production shop with both the highest capacity and also the most modern setup in Central Europe,” András Dunai, CEO of Aquarius Aqua, proudly states. More than 200 different products are produced here, most of them private label mineral waters for various retail chains located in Hungary, among them Tesco, Penny, Aldi and Lidl. “About 90% of our waters are generic brands to date,” says Dunai, “with CSDs notching up 80%.” This is to change in the future. “In the medium term Aquarius Aqua will concentrate on building up its own brands in these segments. We want to create a premium brand which we will establish on the market with extensive sponsoring activities and a range of effective marketing tools.”
“It’s something of a tradition at Aquarius Aqua that we always invest in the latest equipment.”
Successful brand strategy
The first ‘test run’ has already proved successful; one soft drinks brand from the 1980s, Queen, has now been revitalized and revamped with new product developments on the one hand and through copious marketing campaigns on the other. In light of this investment and the general trend towards retro products and brands sales have tripled in the last three years with products in this brand range – which include a low-price cola beverage. Dunai is convinced that “there’s still room for growth. We can continue to increase the market share of Queen both in Hungary and in Central and Eastern Europe – also with the help of production sites outside Hungary which in addition can be used to boost our exports.” Just recently the Hungarian bottler was able to procure the United States and Nigeria as new markets. In the face of plans for expansion such as these Dunai finds it logical that Aquarius Aqua should invest in first-class technology when increasing its capacities. “It’s something of a tradition at our company that we always invest in the latest equipment so that our production is constantly state of the art,” he clarifies. For the future Dunai sees a need for investment in aseptic filling in particular which he wishes to be able to apply to his entire product range – in view of his current excellent experience gladly with the support of KHS. As his colleague Pintér concurs, the cooperation with KHS has been extremely smooth. “There was real teamwork between Aquarius and KHS – on all levels! And for us it’s important to learn that we can apply brand new technologies which are revolutionizing our bottling shop.”