Case-Study: Meeting Canning Demands Positively

Monday, September 18th, 2017

In Hochdorf, Lucerne, Switzerland, Ramseier Suisse AG operates a large independent brewery which concentrates solely on the production and filling of dealer’s brands. To cope with the rising demand for beer in aluminium cans, Ramseier installed a canning line from Krones, and it’s running like clockwork. By Thomas Weber, sales Southwest Germany and Switzerland, Krones AG

Ramseier Suisse AG possesses vast in-house expertise, particularly in the fruit juice segment. It owns four juice processing plants, but besides its own brands and products, the company also possesses long years of experience in the field of dealer’s brands.

The company offers, as a private label, production capacities and filling options in glass, PET, soft-packages, and most recently cans as well—for fruit juice, sweet beverages, ice tea, mineral water or beer.

At its fourth facility in Hochdorf near Lucerne, the company has focused on producing and filling beer, plus small quantities of syrup. This production plant in Hochdorf evolved from the former Lupo Brewery which had been producing beer since 1963, to primarily a house brand for the discounter Denner, which was integrated into the Fenaco Group in 2006.

Today, this brewing facility in Hochdorf is Switzerland’s biggest brewery that is not dependent on a foreign conglomerate. In 2014 it achieved an output of 260,000 hectolitres. The brewery concentrates entirely on producing dealer’s brands. The customers include the LANDI and Volg retail chains, owned by the Fenaco Group.

Hitherto, the plant in Hochdorf had been operating with a single bottling line: rated at 33,000 bottles per hour for returnable and non-returnable glass bottles and for PET containers in the 0.33-litre, 0.5-litre and 1.0-litre sizes, most of it installed by Krones in 2000.

Quenching Demands

Demand for canned beer in the retail sector has soared in recent years—meanwhile one in three beers on the shop shelves is sold in cans. This is why the company decided to progress its expansion thrust in the beer segment, and to further upgrade its value creation chain by installing a new canning line.

“Competitors from abroad, particularly from Germany, constitute serious rivals when it comes to contract beer canning,” said Kurt Felder, plant manager in Hochdorf.

The company accordingly decided before the end of 2013 to invest in a canning operation of its own. By doing so, the company wanted to upgrade its perceived competence as a beverage specialist and production partner. With great success: from 2014 to 2015, Hochdorf increased its beer production output by around 30 percent, from 200,000 to 260,000 hectolitres.

“The aluminium beverage can was for years perceived by the public as an ‘environmental sinner’. Thanks to minimised energy consumption during production, and their reduced weight, however, nowadays beverage cans do very much better in life-cycle analyses than they did 10 years ago. Meanwhile, cans exhibit figures of similar quality to those for PET bottles, and have long since surpassed non-returnable glass,” to quote the company.

Switzerland, moreover, possesses a superbly organised, regionally networked recycling system: even without charging a deposit, the recycling rate for aluminium cans is running at over 90 percent.

Turnkey Order For The Canning Line’s Wet End

In December 2013, the company placed a turnkey order with Krones for the wet end of the canning line. The machines were delivered in May 2014, with commissioning completed in June. “We felt it was important to have the delivery capability in place before the peak season began,” explained Mr Felder.

The company decided to use the dry end of the existing glass bottling line for both the glass line and the new canning line—alternately, of course. Because there was already an end-of-the-line packer integrated there for six-packs plus 18- and 24-bottle shrink-packs with and without trays; the space available would not have permitted separate end-of-the-line packaging and palletising for the canning line.

“At present we’re running two or three shifts on five days a week. We could, of course, increase our filling capacities still further by running the line 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mr Felder continued.

Can Filler For Ultra-Accurate Fill Quantities

A Pressant Universal 1A sweep-off depalletiser feeds the bulk cans, which are delivered in stacks of 15 layers into the line on a raised level. After a short conveyor section, an inclined rinser passes the cans down to the Volumetic VOC filler.

Its filling principle, featuring metering chambers, guarantees ultra-accurate fill quantities: before the product enters the can, it first flows into a metering chamber where the inflowing liquid is monitored by a probe with a magnetic float. Once the specified quantity has been reached, the inlet valve closes.

While the can is entering the filler, the centring unit rises, and descends again as soon as the can has been placed underneath the filling valve. After pressurisation and flushing, the valve opens. As soon as the magnetic float in the metering chamber has descended to the specified switching point, the filling function ends.

The can filler has no front table, and is erected with a free-standing glass enclosure. The protected area also accommodates a Ferrum can seamer, in the new hygienic design. A Checkmat FM-X then inspects the cans for the correct fill levels, and a first Linadry dries the filled and seamed cans in single-file transport.

After this, the containers are turned by 180 deg, and passed through a second Linadry. The cans can now be reliably datecoded, and passed to the packer for end-of-the-line packaging.

The line currently handles 0.5-litre cans only. It can, however, in future also provide an option for handling 0.25-litre and 0.33-litre slim and sleek-cans. Lubricants from KIC Krones ensure optimum protection for the kit at Ramseier Suisse AG.

A Persuasive Overall Concept

It was the overall concept that the company found persuasive when reaching this decision, said Mr Felder. “It wasn’t the cheapest quotation, that’s true, but if you look at the package as a whole, we thought it was definitely the most favourable for us.”

The company has in the past been very satisfied with its Krones kit, not only with regard to layouts and specialised competences, but also in terms of the project management and cooperation, as well as the entire service support provided by them, he added.