Van Pur is a household name on the Polish market. Although it was only founded in 1989, with an annual output of over four million hectoliters the brewing company already accounts for 10% of all beer produced in Poland, making it number four among the country’s breweries. This is despite a drop in growth at the start of the millennium when during a brief intermezzo Van Pur belonged to an Austrian group for a number of years. The company is now once again in Polish hands and is taking on a pioneering role when it comes to innovation.
Van Pur was thus one of the first breweries in Poland to recently order a system for the production, filling, and packaging of PET bottles at their Rakszawa site in the southeast of Poland – once again investing in KHS equipment. The company’s partnership with KHS has tradition; it started in 1992 when Van Pur invested in one of the first canning lines in Poland. “Since then we’ve continuously relied on KHS,” explains Piotr Polanski, operations director at Van Pur. “About 90% of the filling and packaging equipment we use today is from KHS because we’re extremely satisfied with its first-rate technology.”
The ordered line includes
- An InnoPET Blomax Series IV stretch blow molder
- An Innofill DVF PET filling system
- An Innoket SE labeling machine, and
- Innopack Kisters packaging equipment.
One special innovative highlight is the InnoPET Plasmax 12 D integrated into the line which applies a wafer-thin layer of glass to the insides of the PET bottles to prevent gas migration, thus ensuring the quality of the bottled product. This makes Van Pur the first brewery in Poland to rely on outstanding Plasmax technology.
Plasmax coating technology is an offshoot of the glass industry. Here, engineers developed a special process which could coat the insides of glass containers with a layer of pure glass for special pharmaceutical applications. Plasmax coating for PET bottles is based on this technology and perfectly protects even the most sensitive beverages against any loss of quality. It stops oxygen from penetrating the product and carbon dioxide from escaping from it.
The glass coating also has no effect on the bottle’s weight or elasticity. Another benefit of the Plasmax barrier is that it makes the container especially environmentally friendly. The glass barrier can be easily separated from the PET material using caustic treatment which is part of the standard recycling process, making the bottles 100% recyclable.
Cost benefits and service aspects were also a reason for deciding to invest, reveals Piotr Polanski. “Our calculations showed that for us Plasmax coating technology is a cost-effective system. With it we have top quality coupled with a good price/performance ratio.” KHS’ customer-oriented services were also convincing. “KHS supplied us with a coating recipe specifically tailored to our specifications and pretested in the KHS lab. Everything was therefore perfectly coordinated from the very beginning.”
As part of the process the people at Van Pur, who were closely involved in the project and the installation of the line throughout its entire duration, took part in a blind tasting session, among other things. “Everyone could clearly taste the much better quality of the beer filled in Plasmax bottles after a storage period of three months,” Polanski remembers. “This ultimately convinced our employees of the innovative Plasmax coating and its effect on the product taste.”
Van Pur has since ordered a second InnoPET Blomax Series IV stretch blow molder. The reason for this is that when the company ordered the line it assumed that in the short to medium term it would run at full capacity in two-shift operation. Van Pur then wanted to make bottles for stock on the InnoPET Plasmax and InnoPET Blomax in a third shift. Yet after just one year the whole line was running almost continuously in three shifts. With the additional InnoPET Blomax included in the line the brewery can produce stock bottles for its various beer brands offline parallel to the filling of kvass and non-alcoholic malt beverages on the same line. The latter products are much less sensitive and do not need glass-coated bottles.
With the stock PETs the line can then run at maximum capacity when beer is bottled. The system fills up to 25,000 bottles per hour; each InnoPET Blomax produces 13,200 bottles at the most an hour and the InnoPET Plasmax 12D coats a maximum of 12,000 bottles every 60 minutes.
Piotr Polanski therefore sees his company well prepared for further growth, especially where its export business is concerned. All the other general entrepreneurial conditions at Van Pur are also perfect. “With Plasmax technology for our PET bottles we will carry on meeting our demand for premium products in this area as well. As the largest privately-run brewing company in Poland we’re also continuing to benefit from fast decision-making processes and therefore a high degree of flexibility. As far as the future’s concerned, we feel we’re very well prepared on all counts.” Van Pur is sure to stay a household name!
“Excellent product quality is our top priority. With Plasmax technology we can guarantee a minimum shelf life of eight months for our beer in PET bottles. Test results have shown that the quality of the beer is outstanding during this period and directly comparable to that of beer bottled in glass. This way we can convince consumers of the benefits of the plastic bottle in the long term.”
“PET bottles for beer are light, reclosable, and unbreakable – and therefore almost even easier and more convenient to handle than beer in cans, which is very popular in Poland with a current market share of over 40%. We’re thus assuming that there’ll be a rapidly growing demand for beer in PET bottles.”
“Plasmax bottles are 100% recyclable (bottle-to-bottle recycling). The glass barrier can be separated from the PET material by simple treatment with caustic. What helped trigger our decision to invest in the InnoPET Plasmax, among other factors, was that KHS not only supplied us with the machine but also with a coating recipe specifically tailored to our specifications and pretested in the KHS lab. Everything was therefore perfectly coordinated from the very beginning.”
Taste, freshness and a long shelf life:
a question of coating
Piotr Polanski, operations director at Van Pur, gives three reasons why his company invested in Plasmax barrier coating for PET bottles.