This is confirmed by Ian Beukes, manufacturing manager, and André van der Walt, sales manager, who are happy to explain the intricacies of the new equipment.
A first in South Africa, the new SIPA technology is producing a hot-fill HR (heat resistant) PET bottle, capable of handling filling temperatures up to 87°C. Hot filling eliminates the need for preservatives in fresh or frozen drinks, fruit juices, isotonic beverages and teas.
A PET bottle requires a special structure to withstand the mechanical constraints of the hot-filling process; and a special PET resin is used to manufacture the preform. It’s specially designed with a reinforced neck finish, which allows for filling at up to 87°C without previous crystallisation, which is usually required for hot-fill temperatures. The combination of the specialised heat-set blowing process (to provide relatively high crystallinity of the bottle wall), with the special design features of the bottle base and vacuum panels, results in a PET bottle that can withstand visual deformation and limited shrinkage. It also maintains cap/neck compatibility and bottle capacity. As added bonuses, the new bottle is strong and recyclable.
Caption: The Glaceau Vitamin Water range by Coca Cola is the first product to be launched in the new hot-fill PET 500ml bottles.
As the new PET bottle provides a solution to growing consumer demand for preservative-free beverages, Mondipak Plastics believes its introduction will accelerate the transition from glass bottles and metal cans to plastics packaging.
Advanced SIPA technology
So, how does the SIPA technology differ from a standard blow-moulding process? In order to improve the heat resistance of PET, the crystallisation level needs to be enhanced. In the oven, the preform undergoes enhanced reheating that initiates the crystallisation phenomena. The bottle is blown in a hot mould at 160°C. The contact of material against the mould surface improves crystallisation.
A standard PET bottle has a low 25% crystallisation level which is highly heat sensitive. With heat-set treatment, crystallinity reaches 30 to 37%, creating high heat resistance.
Caption: Ian Beukes, manufacturing manager, and André van der Walt, sales manager, at Mondipak Plastics’ Wadeville plant, are confident of future market success thanks to their new SIPA blow-moulder for hot-fill PET bottle manufacture.
Mondipak Plastics is currently geared up to produce four different hot-fill bottle designs/sizes on its SIPA HR stretch blow moulding equipment. Standard PET bottles can also be produced, which allows for efficient machine utilisation.
The SIPA project is being driven by Coca-Cola, which recently launched its Glaceau Vitamin Water range in South Africa in a 500ml hot-fill PET bottle.
Coca-Cola Canners is the first to install a PET hot-fill line in South Africa and partnered with Mondipak Plastics to ensure that the SIPA technology met its requirements.
‘We believe this installation allows for flexibility to produce a range of empty bottles,’ comments Carel Engelbrecht, MD of Coca Cola Canners. ‘It also allows for future expansion into other products.’
The Coca Cola Canners plant is situated in Wadeville, adjacent to the Mondipak Plastics plant, limiting transport costs and reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
Lyle Bachelor joins the team
Mondipak Plastics also introduces Lyle Bachelor, the new general manager at Wadeville. No stranger to the Mondipak business, Lyle has recently moved from KwaZulu-Natal, where he was general manager at Mondipak’s Pinetown plant, to take on a new challenge in Johannesburg.
The Wadeville operation is recognised as an industry leader in the manufacturing of PET preforms, bottles and jars for the food, beverage, mineral water, edible oil and homecare industries. Mondipak Plastics enjoys the major share of the carbonated soft drinks (CSD) market and is also a leading player when it comes to wide-mouth jars.
The operation comprises of three distinct production areas – injection moulding of preforms; the stretch blow-moulding of bottles; and the single-stage moulding of both bottles and wide-mouth jars.
The company has embarked on long-term supply contracts for preform supply for in-house blow-moulding of CSD bottles for various brands and exports to other African countries.
It is safe to say that the latest SIPA investment is opening the door for PET to be used for an even wider range of products. The build-up to the 2010 World Cup is under way – surely a major consideration in the minds of the beverage industry giants. This should offer further opportunities for new hot-fill PET projects, not to mention an additional welcome boost to production levels at Mondipak Plastics Wadeville. Both Ian and André are more than confident that they are ready to meet the challenge.