Development prospects of equipment for filling dairy and sour-milk products into PET bottles

Publication date: 12.04.2022 | Author: Andrew Ryssiev

Interest towards the possibilities of packaging in PET bottles in Russia continues to grow. This is due to both the features of packaging and specifics of production lines.

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PET bottle packaging lines are promising for manufacturers on several grounds.

  1. Сost. Launching of production in a PET bottle is more economical than paperboard and more modern than a traditional bag.
  2. Payback-price ratio. Launching of production in a PET bottle removes expenses associated with the launching of the line and reconfiguration. For example, milk filling in the bag may involve the loss of first production batch to tens of liters. The use of Tetra-Pak packaging means the purchase of rather expensive lines and consumables.
  3. Dependence on the of equipment and consumables manufacturer. In this case the PET bottle competes well with the bag, and at the same time, the shelf life of the product, convenience, and attractiveness for the consumer increase.

PET bottles with a volume of 0.33 to 2.5 liters are the main type of packaging for drinking water and non-alcoholic drinks. In recent years, dairy products with a shelf life of 5 to 14 days are also packaged mainly in PET and, occasionally, in HDPE bottles. Rising demand for HDPE packaging in the dairy segment is due its lower opacity and reduced light effect on the product, and to a more interesting shape, including a square one (it is possible to use advantageous shelf space in hypermarkets).  Also, this shape is associated with the classic «milk jug», so often used in commercials for dairy companies.

Polyethylene and combined (polyethylene + cardboard) three-seam bags, including rectangular bags and pyramids, are used exclusively in the dairy industry and are gradually being replaced by more convenient types of packaging for consumers and manufacturers. In consumption, lack of possibility of repeated opening and closing is their significant disadvantage. It is affecting the shelf life and the convenient storage of opened products, and it does not correspond to the active lifestyle of consumers. Packing in a three-seam packaging is characterized by savings on packaging materials with a parallel increase in their consumption and loss of product during the packing process (caused by instability of soldered seams). In this regard, the demand for this equipment and products packaged in this way is not high and lost ground to packaging in PET and HDPE – bottles that have several advantages:

– convenience and light. The weight of a glass bottle is 200-300 g, and a PET bottle of volume weighs about 17 g. This not only reduces the cost of transportation and facilitates the product display on the shelves. The PET bottle is comfortable to hold in the hand, it does not increase the product weigh and the bag with groceries. This type of packaging is demanded by the audience living an active life.

– strength and resistance to external influences. Filled PET bottles carry a static vertical load to 140 kg. and do not break on falling from a height one and a half meters. In addition, they are safe for use by children, with them there is never a danger of splinters. Increasing the stiffness and preventing deformation of lightweight PET bottles with non-carbonated drinks is possible by using nitriding technology – adding a drop of liquid nitrogen into the packing before capping. Thereafter closed PET bottle feels almost like glass, only warmer.

– high tightness and the possibility of multiple opening and closing, as well as the possibility of secondary operation in the household. For example, one of the interesting examples of recycling PET packaging is the storage of bulk products, such as sugar.

– high thermoplasticity and a variety of shapes. It is important for the promotion of packaged liquid products on the market

– a high level of packing hygiene. Packaging can be produced by blowing from preforms at the site immediately before packing

– low cost of packaging, equipment for packaging and transportation of packaged products.  It makes it accessible to the consumer and stimulates the sales. Group six-piece packaging of PET bottles is cost-effective and quite capacious. It reduces the cost of transporting PET packing compared to glass packing approximately ten times.

– the possibility of processing. This area in our country is still underdeveloped and requires special study, but in the EU and Japan are taken very seriously and actively use plastic waste processing technologies.

opacity and the ability to show the product. This property of PET packaging, equating it to glass according to this indicator, is actively used by manufacturers to attract the attention of consumers with color.

PET packaging have several features that you have to be dealt when choosing this packaging format and that should be paid attention.

Depending on the composition of the packaging, ethylene glycol, dimethyl phthalate, formaldehyde, all kinds of alcohols (not for food purposes), catalyst residues, which include acetates of manganese, zinc, cobalt, antimony, etc., can get into the liquid at wrong storage. It is worth considering that migration of harmful substances into the liquid increases non-compliance with conditions and shelf life of drinks in plastic.

With an increase in temperature above 28°C, the penetration rate of the compounds contained in plastic packaging into the product increases by 10 times.

Specialists of «AVIS» Company recommends that you pay attention to the quality of the plastic. Also, you should carefully control all technological processes. It will help to avoid negative impacts.

PET packaging produced immediately before packing must be subjected to hygienic treatment – rinsing with ozonized water – to remove the remaining vapors generated during the blowing process, as well as to wash off dust and other possible contaminants that can get into the preforms during their production and storage. transportation.

Blowing equipment. Short review

Manufacturers offer two types of blow molding machines on the market: automatic and semi-automatic. The main difference is constructability and performance.

The blow molding machine produces a PET bottle and feeds it on conveyors to the filling line. You only have to put the preforms into the feed hopper and press the start button. The device does everything by itself: it loads up the preforms into the machine, heat up the workpiece., blow it out and send it to the line.

Semi-automatic machines require an operator. An operator manually puts the preforms into the heating oven, take down the heated preform and put it in the blow molding machine, take down and puts together the finished PET packaging.

Productivity of the machine allows to blow from 1000 to 7000 bottles per hour, and the semi-automatic machine blows from 100 to 1200 bottles per hour. Productivity depends on the volume of blown packaging, compressor equipment and the power of the machine.

Automatic machines are more expensive. The price is several million. However, such lines pay off quickly. This option is suitable for large and medium-sized manufacturers, where the payback will not keep itself waiting long. Semi-automatic blowing is cheaper, and it is available to almost every manufacturer. Semi-automatic blowing Is suitable for manufacturer where product is filled in small batches.

The composition of the equipment for blowing

It is Individually for each site and type of packaging. Specialists of «AVIS» Company create individual solutions for specific production facilities. The composition of the equipment may differ, but the main components will be as follows:

Automatic or semi-automatic PET blow molding machine

For semi-automatic blowing, two units are needed: a heating oven and a blow molding machine. In the automatic version, this is a single unit, where there is oven, blowing and cooling.

The batcher for orientation and preform feeding are set up as a separate unit.

Compressor Station or Compressor

The compressor equipment is like the heart of the whole system, it feeds the pneumatics of the machines and provides high-pressure compressed air to blow the bottles out of the preform. We will tell you more about the types of compressor equipment later.

Fluid Coolers & Compressed Air Dryers

These are secondary components, Without these there is no chance to ensure the function of compressor and blowing equipment. Dryers provide the quality of the compressed air, while liquid coolers provide the quality of the blown bottle.

Press form

The final element of blow molding equipment. It is impossible to blow bottle without it. The bottle takes on the shape that was intended in the press form.

Round table “ Processing of milk.”: Economical or environmentally friendly? What should be the packaging?

Interview with Andrey Rysyev  –   Commercial Director of the machine-building company «AVIS»

1. What are the factors in the consumer’s choice of packaging? Is it true that today’s buyer chooses not only for convenience of consumption, attractive design, but also goods in eco-packaging?

The main factor in the choice of packaging by the buyer, of course, is habit. Literally, it looks like this: “That’s what I always buy – that’s what I will buy!” And the question: “Why do you buy goods in this packaging and not another?” – rather, it’s perplexing with the subsequent answer: “I always do this because …” And then fantasies begin to answer why. The vast majority of humans do not know consciously and reasonably why they choose this product and in this package. Of course, our choice is influenced by the attractiveness of the design, and convenience, and the price, and the quality of the product, and the subjective ratio of these qualities. But it is a fact that we do not live in an information vacuum. “Environment” is shaping our habits and life pattern. “Environmental friendliness” is the main factor that will influence our decisions soon. But until the end it is not clear what is it?

This issue is complex and controversial. It is positive tendency that we have stopped thinking that paper is good, plastic is bad. We began to ask questions: what is kind of paper, and what is kind of plastic? Now we know that specific plastic is more environmentally friendly than a specific “paper”.

2. Most manufacturers agree that Switch to environmentally friendly packaging will affect the final price of the product and will fall on the shoulders of the consumer. That’s it?

Of course. The cost of packaging is always fall on the shoulders of the consumer. And if manufacturer’s costs for a particular packaging increase, the consumer will compensate this additional price.

But not the fact that eco-friendly packaging will be more expensive.

Let’s assume that gross emissions of СO2 at all stages of the life of a packaging: from the production of all elements of raw materials to utilization of this packaging, as well as the amount of costs from production to the final stage of utilization or recycling is an absolute measure of the environmental friendliness of the package. In such circumstances PET can be recognized as the most environmentally friendly and cheapest packaging. СO2 emissions at all stages of the packaging life cycle are minimal and support of each production step needs minimal expenses. We just need to fine-tune the system of collection and recycling. Can the expenses for utilization affect the final cost of a PET product? Yes, but not as much as for other types of packaging. Ceteris paribus, the price for polystyrene, tetra-pack and laminated cardboard will increase. Even biodegradable packaging will increase in price – it turns out that CO2 is released during the decomposition of this packaging much more than when cardboard is burned.

3. What packaging formats will be most in demand in the nearest prospect? What is the reason for this? Is it possible to switch to more inexpensive types of packaging?

Packaging price, logistics costs, convenience and attractiveness are the basic parameters for consumers.

The parameter of environmental friendliness will be added to it, but it will become indirect through other parameters. I think that the issue of environmental friendliness will be implemented through the mechanism of accounting for the costs of packaging recycling and thus the costs of environmental friendliness will be directly related to the price of packaging. And we will get that the main packaging, at least for liquid dairy products, will be PET. PET will hold position instead of laminated cardboard and tetra-pack, but it will also press fin-pack packaging. It is possible that glass will increase a share in the market a little, but not significantly. Cheap packaging will definitely not appear in the market, at least there are no prerequisites for this in the light of “environmental” issues.

About AVIS on the eve of Agroprodmash 2020

Ilyas Sayfetdinovich Gazetdinov, Director of the Machine-Building Company «AVIS», answered the questions of the «Processing of milk» magazine

1. AVIS will celebrate 25th anniversary soon. Tell us about the list of equipment supplied by the company to the market today?

It’s true, our company was founded in 1997. The founders were native of Izhevsk machine-building enterprises and had serious production experience. It all started with a small production. Today, щгк company occupies an area of ​​12,000 m2, and our product range includes more than 100 production units of equipment. The AVIS is a full-cycle enterprise, The plant is a full-cycle enterprise, that combines all stages of production from engineering development, metalworking to the launch of finished products at customer sites.

Traditionally, the company specialized in the production of equipment for working with PET packaging. This direction is dominant today. The product line of our company includes the whole range of equipment for creating full-cycle filling lines, both automatic and semi-automatic. We produce blow molding equipment, machines for filling, capping, cap orientation, labeling, group package, conveyor systems of various configurations. We work with drinking and carbonated water, drinks, beer, kvass, technical liquids, oils.

Since 2008, the Company began to master the production of equipment for filling milk and fermented milk products in PET. And now this direction is flagship. This year we have stepped over a hundred implemented projects for filling milk in PET.

2 Can you identify the dominant trend in the development of dairy packaging equipment?

Let’s start with the fact that revolutionary changes in the packaging market, especially liquid products, will not happen in the near future.  There will not be securely packaging, utilized in the snap of a finger.

The main market of liquid dairy products will continue to be divided between “traditional” types of packaging: finpack, PET, purepack, glass and foil cardboard.

But the share of each type of packaging in the market is constantly changing. In Russia as early as 40 years ago, glass was practically the only packaging. But eventually glass lost the price war to other types of packaging. And the triumphant return of glass positions to the packaging market will not happen.

Today’s consumer often changes in his preferences: he wants the “flexibility” of packaging, but at an affordable price. And in such a situation, only PET corresponds to all parameters. Individual format – yes, relatively low price – yes, keep the product fresh – yes, go far with minimal cost and not be damaged on the way – yes. And thanks to the combination of all these qualities, PET is increasingly expanding presence in the market of liquid dairy products through other packaging. Of course, PET packaging will not conquer all market, but it will be the prevailing one. With regard to environmental friendliness of this packaging, is a favorite as it is easy to recycle. Therefore, PET will be the main packaging for liquid dairy products.

And our task as equipment manufacturers is to create equipment that will enable enterprises to respond to market needs without significant costs.

Our equipment provides such opportunities, within reasonable limits, of course. Almost any production model can work in the range of PET packaging from 100 ml to 2 liters. There are some nuances, but in general it is so.

3 Due to a significant increase in the production of raw milk in the Russian market, have you felt an increase in the interest of processors in the production of milk in PET packaging? What are the customer requirements for equipment? What is demanded the most?

The interest on the part of processors towards production of milk in PET has been steadily stable for many years. But we have seen the interest towards filling milk in PET from small companies. For the first, these are farms that have begun to think about their own processing.

All our customers place quite high demands on equipment hygiene. And our main advantage is the high level of cleanliness of the filling milk in our equipment.

This allows manufacturers increase shelf life of the products. Our lines, even with the basic configuration, allow to filling milk and get a shelf life from ten days.

Although the trend for extended shelf life (for milk in PET it is 21 days) is not yet widespread. Nevertheless, we have developed enough competencies, and now we have high hygiene triblocs (Ultra Clean), which increase the shelf life of milk to 21 days. There are practically no such production solutions in Russia.

But in addition, it is important for enterprises that filling machines, on the one hand, have a high level of automation, and on the other hand, be as simple as possible to operate and reconfiguration. And this combination is also a competitive advantage of AVIS Company machines. Therefore, our machines successfully work in the most remote areas of our country (Magadan, Mirny, Norilsk) and at large enterprises (Komos Group, Uvamoloko, Nytvensky Butter Plant). Our client list attests to the quality of our work.

It is worth noting the fact that AVIS equipment is not inferior to European counterparts: we use components from leading manufacturers. And our price for equipment is significantly lower than European. With an almost 30% increase in the euro exchange rate over the past six months, the cost of our products has increased by 5%, and for some positions we managed to maintain it at the level of 2019. This is the result of hard work of our team.

4 How do you work with enterprises where your equipment is already installed?

The service department is a separate and most important division in the structure of our company. Equipment is tested at our production site before it being sent to the customer. Complex of equipment is lined up in the shop floor of setup and tested in operating mode for two weeks. In case of successful testing equipment is shipped to the customer. In the process of work our service department monitors the equipment on the continuous basis, provides consulting assistance both by phone, the Internet, and with visits to enterprises. If necessary, we can run a diagnostic on sight and give professional advices. We want our response to be as fast as possible. Speed ​​is our absolute advantage.

And this is especially important in the light of recent developments regarding the pandemic and the closure of borders. Our Russian customers practically did not feel any changes in service, in comparison with those who work on foreign equipment. Delivery of components, departure of the master on the site holds in normal mode and in the shortest possible time. Moreover, we have customers who order diagnostic and maintenance on a regular basis according to pre-approved plans and regulations. These are thousands of units of equipment in Russia and neighboring countries. We monitor the operation of the equipment produced by us even if the customer’s enterprise is closed and the equipment is transferred to a new owner.

5 What are the development plans?

I think that the dairy business will remain key for our company in the next few years. We need to expand the range of equipment as production volumes of customers is growing and we must offer them new machines for more productivity. Another key quality indicator that we constantly strive to increase is the reliability of our machines. And, of course, work on costs reduction. Any equipment is a high cost for enterprises, so we try remains at a reasonable level of price level, not at the expense quality or reliability.  It requires constant modifications of the equipment. And now we have begun to actively develop the filling of water in bottles with a capacity of 19 liters (the so-called office format).

There are already working samples for blowing of 19 l bottles, now we are starting the batch production of bottling equipment which are of Western standards, but at the same time cost almost three times cheaper than European and American counterparts. In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to all employees, whose professionalism and intellectual potential are the key to the success of the company, as well as to our customers and people for whom we are working, because of them our equipment is becoming better, more reliable and qualitative.