Earlier in the year, Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS) opened a new £13 million line at its Coleford Factory. The investment into the factory delivers a 40% reduction on water and energy needed to make each bottle and the high-speed bottling line fills 55,000 bottles an hour. This enables LRS to keep up with the demand for its drinks, including British favourites Lucozade and Ribena, whilst delivering on its 'Growing for Good' vision. Gary Burford, Project Manager at LRS responsible for managing the new line, has spoken to Packaging Today about the new line and the next steps for the factory.
What is the latest development, how are you involved and how long has it taken you to get to this stage?
We’ve recently installed a high-speed aseptic filling block, capable of blowing, filling and capping drinks at 55,000 bottles per hour. It uses dry aseptic technology to eliminate the need for rinsing bottles before they are filled, which will deliver significant water and energy savings for the factory going forward. The new filler will result in 40% water and energy savings per unit produced compared with the previous technology that we’ve replaced. Work began back in 2017, as we looked at the potential solutions and suppliers capable of meeting the business requirements. Civil works started in January 2019, with the first items of equipment arriving in May 2019, and commissioning of the new plant completed in October. We then went through an extensive period of production validation, which was completed by the end of December.
Was there a specific driving trend or force behind choosing this new line?
There is an ongoing commitment by the business to reduce the environmental impact that our operations have and we are continually looking at ways in which we can meet consumer demand and introduce drinks that support a healthier lifestyle. These were two of the key drivers for the project and remain at the heart of our strategic business plans. The new filler reduces our environmental impact in terms of water and energy. The technology also allows us to fill healthier drinks at high speed, future proofing our capability.
What is new or different about the line that makes it current or best in class? Is this the start of a wider project across multiple lines or is this a tailor made project?
It’s a fully aseptic high-speed block; blowing, filling and capping bottles in one large integrated machine. It’s the first of this type installed at the Coleford site, and we believe one of only five in the UK. The energy and water consumed, per unit produced, is significantly lower than other existing lines and the technology is currently the most efficient available. It is a tailor-made solution but we expect to look for similar efficiency savings when some of our existing equipment comes to the end of its useable life.
I know our readers follow productivity closely, what do you think are the most impressive aspects of the new line?
The speed at which a bottle is blown, treated to kill any bacteria within the bottle, filled and then capped is very impressive with very fine engineering tolerances needed to handle bottles at this speed.
Does this support LRS's sustainability strategy? If so how?
Everything we do at LRS aligns with our Growing for Good vision, helping the company to be at harmony with people and nature. We want to reduce our carbon footprint in any way possible, which is where this development plays a big role. The reduction of water and energy in production supports the overall sustainability strategy and really helps us to show our commitment to our surrounding environment. The factory has already met the highest international standards of environmental management (ISO 14001) and our goal by 2030 is to have reduced our CO2 emissions by 25% and water consumption by 15%. This installation will definitely help us meet these goals.
What is next?
We’ve got ongoing work to ramp up the efficiency of the line and we’re already planning the next phase of the project, which will be the installation of new downstream packaging equipment which the new filling block will eventually supply.