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Integrated Systems At Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd

2-Jun 2008 - Press Release

Astec Conveyors has recently completed the integration of two major liquid filling and packaging lines at Coca-Cola Enterprises, the world's leading bottler, marketer and distributor of non-alcoholic beverages. Working in association with the main machinery supplier DS Smith Packaging Systems, Astec was involved in the design, manufacture and integration of all handling systems - linking together complete filling and packaging lines for "bag in box" and "MegaBox" bulk syrup carriers.

Stephen Parry, Manager at DS Smith Packaging Systems commented, "Apart from providing a competitive quotation, Astec was selected because they demonstrated their experience and handling capability, and could supply all the different conveyors for both filling systems within the given time frame to fully satisfy Coca-Cola Enterprises requirements.

Astec also provided a full project management service on behalf of DS Smith Packaging Systems, ensuring all third party suppliers were aware of their responsibilities to ensure the project was delivered on time and to specification."

Filling The Requirements Of Coca-Cola Enterprises

Coca-Cola Enterprises was looking to streamline 24/7 bulk filling operations to achieve greater efficiencies and productivity.

Astec Conveyors handling solution was acknowledged as being both innovative and unique, providing custom built equipment in the form of a "Symmetric Merge" unit and "Pack Twister" to provide accurate tracking, optimum speed flow and accurate orientation of product throughout the system. Their proposal to manufacture to the highest food quality standard using an all stainless steel construction, coupled with the unique system design features and competitive tender, went a long way to assist Astec securing the prestigious contract with Coca-Cola Enterprises.

'Bag in Box'

Previous operations were undertaken on two separate filling lines according to the packaging size; 10ltr. packs on an auto line and 20ltr. capacity on a semi-auto operation at 3 boxes/min. Due to an increase in demand for 20ltr. packs, Coca-Cola Enterprises took a decision to introduce a new auto filling and packaging system that would handle both sizes of 'bag in box'.

From a DSSP (OTOR) case erector two different sized carton packs (10/20ltr) could be dispensed to order, feeding in single file onto a modular mattop side flexing belt conveyor supplied by Astec and operating at line speeds of 25/20cpmin respectively. A specially designed "one-to-two" lane divider transported empty cartons - bottom sealed, top flaps open, to feed two online 'bag-in-box' (RAPAK - a division of DS Smith Plastics) filling machines.

A spokes person for Coca-Cola Enterprises acknowledged the complexity of the system saying, "Based on our own experience of running 10/20ltr. 'bag in box' packs, we required the finished package to be orientated in certain directions to allow for specific coding requirements for different customers, but this was not to impact on line speed. Astec's design solution to these complex issues was unique and very effective."

Once accurately filled with the required volume of syrup, the carton is discharged on chain driven clutched roller accumulating conveyor and through Astec's "Symmetric Merge" unit, which is a specially designed roller 'Y' merge. This unit eliminates the need for guide rails by centralising the cartons on to a mattop modular belt conveyor to accurately track around a 90° bend, precisely presenting for ink-jet coding and feeding onto a Mettler Toledo check weigher. Any over / under weight cartons are automatically rejected on exiting the check weigher.

Complete filled cartons are transported through a case closing and sealing machine (DSSP - OTOR), and controls monitor for open flap detection on discharge, prior to entering the Astec 'Pack Twister'. This unique twister unit was specially designed by Astec Conveyors for handling the 'bag-in-box' packaging, changing the pack orientation from vertical to horizontal and presenting the finished product in the ideal plane for automatic shrink wrapping and palletising.

Astec Conveyors not only provided the mechanical hardware in terms of handling equipment, but project managed the installation and interface of the system with full controls. Accumulation zones are strategically positioned within the system at key stages of packing to provide controlled build-back of cartons. Product is monitored from the filler discharge and tracked throughout the symmetric merge and on to the check weigher, so that over / under weight cartons can be identified and traced back to the originating filler machine for any necessary rectification.

Coca-Cola Enterprises reported, "The new all stainless steel filling system is very flexible and has certainly speeded up the process, reduced manual handling and product waste, and increased accuracy of fill and packaging operations. The current line utilisation is approximately 70% but steadily rising in line with demand.

Change over in pack size from 10ltr. to 20ltr. is very quick, as there are no guide rails to adjust and handling system controls are not affected by change in product size."

'MegaBox System'

Astec Conveyors had to provide a system to handle the specially designed MegaBox - a tamper proof, bulk handling returnable syrup packaging system produced by ArcaSystems for Coca-Cola Enterprises. In order to convey these containers, which can carry the equivalent to 12.5 x 20ltr bag-in-box's (250ltr.), Astec designed a heavy duty, special stainless steel twin chain pallet conveyor.


From store, the collapsible space saving MegaBox is manually erected to form a bulk liquid container and positioned onto the pallet conveyor. From this infeed position, MegaBox containers are transported and precisely indexed for two filling stations to complete the process in an agreed controlled sequence. The system has been designed to provide maximum flexibility and each filling station can be operated independently.
Right angle chain/roller unit

Lids and labels are manually placed on to the filled Megaboxes and a right angle chain/roller unit transfers the two containers off the main conveyor line, positioning them side by side for a forklift truck to simply offload and transfer the goods to the warehouse for storage and despatch.

As with both systems, Astec Conveyors not only supplied all the mechanical hardware and integrated the system with electrical controls, they acted as project managers liaising with all parties throughout. This was essential as there was a very tight 'time window' for stripping out old equipment from Coca-Cola Enterprises, installing and commissioning the new system. This was completed within two weeks, on time and within budget.

Andrew Baxter Projects Team Leader at Coca-Cola Enterprises stated, "From the off, Astec Conveyors demonstrated their willingness to deliver workable solutions to resolve our handling requirements and meet our challenging timescales. The system is very impressive and successfully meeting our project criteria." 

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