Changing production to be greener

The innovative KeelClipTM packaging system, made of FSC paper, reduces annual CO2 emissions by 50%.

To feed with dedicated conveyor belts the machines of a new FSC paper packaging system and adapt the bundling machines of the packaging line to the new planned format, Coca-Cola HBC Italia relied on the experience of BBM Service, which was able to implement the can line number 1 of the Nogara site according to customer’s wishes.

Part of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, with two thousand employees at present, Coca-Cola HBC Italia is the main Italian producer and distributor of products under the brand The Coca-Cola Company, a company with a product portfolio able to cover every occasion of consumption.

In addition to the head office in Milan, the Group has five active production plants: Two dedicated to bottling mineral waters – one at Fonti del Vulture, located in Rionero in Vulture (PZ), and one at Lurisia, located in Roccaforte Mondovì (CN) – and three for beverages and soft drinks, located in Oricola (AQ), Marcianise (CE) and Nogara (VR).

The latter is the largest production site of Coca-Cola HBC in Italy and, with 700 million liters produced annually and more than one billion packages, it is the first in Europe in terms of production capacity.

Dario Soriano, Plant Manager of Coca-Cola HBC Italia in Nogara.

“Ours is a cutting-edge industry – says Dario Soriano, Director of the Coca-Cola plant HBC Italia in Nogara – that since 1975 can boast several historical achievements: among them, the first production of cans in Italy or, in 2015, on the occasion of the first 40 years of activity, the setting up of a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest human image of a bottle, during which more than 600 employees and their families came together to form the company’s iconic Coca-Cola bottle.

Nogara is also a benchmark in terms of sustainability, thanks to the photovoltaic plants installed and a cogeneration plant that produces energy, heat and cold water in quantities that make us potentially self-sufficient”.

-50% CO2 with the KeelClipTM system

Environmental sustainability and the ambition of the HBC Group to reduce the impact on the environment were the guiding principles of a recent investment that led to a modification of the can line number 1 of Nogara. “We have – explains Soriano – a total of ten production lines: 2 can lines, 2 aseptic lines, 3 PET lines, 1 glass line, 1 BIB and 1 barrels. The can line number 1, which is the first format produced in Nogara, is dedicated to carbonated drinks (multiformat) and can reach a maximum speed of 90,000 cans/h.

From this year on, we have started the production of cardboard wraps, eliminating plastic from the multiple packaging of products and halving our annual CO2 emissions: KeelClipTM, this innovative FSC paper packaging system, has been available on the market for a few months now. In order to achieve our goal, we relied on a technical partner who was able, firstly, of engineering the layout of conveyor belts for feeding the new packaging machines and, secondly, of adjusting the wrapping machines to the new format. After launching a tender, the contract was assigned to the company BBM Service of San Pellegrino Terme (BG), which we have known for some time”.

New spaces and infeed logics

Specializing in the supply of spare parts, machinery and services for automated bottling and packaging lines, BBM Service offers customized solutions and provides customers with technical support, service, maintenance and overhaul services on all types of machinery, as well as the sale of used, overhauled and guaranteed spare parts and machinery.

Daniele Milesi, Operations & After Sale Service Manager of BBM Service.

“We have been working with the HBC Group throughout Italy for years”, says Daniele Milesi, Operations&After Sale Service Manager of BBM Service. The customer is familiar with our technical expertise, our reliability and availability and, at the same time, our operators know how to move independently between the various production departments, know the lines and the machines, which greatly simplifies the work and the management of resources.

Coca-Cola HBC Italia was looking for a technical partner who could handle the engineering process for the layout of conveyor belts that feed the new packaging machines: the equipment used for the KeelClip system, in fact, required new spaces and infeed logics, and it was necessary to get the product divided into two rows before the clustering unit.

In short, it was necessary to adapt and supply can conveyor belts to the new packaging machines, guaranteeing the appropriate speed for the machines and at the same time taking care of the removal of the two shrink-wrapping machines previously used for packaging clusters. Being qualified as “preferred vendor” of the Italian Group, the client asked us to take part in the tender: our proposal passed all the requirements and convinced the company”.

Integrate the new, optimize the existing

During a preliminary technical meeting, Coca-Cola HBC Italia explained to BBM Service the new system for the cluster, highlighting the technical and marketing needs of the project. Then some surveys were carried out at the plant by the Bergamo-based company, in order to verify the volumes and spaces already present on the line.

“We studied the collected data and proposed the customer a layout that would allow the integration of the new solution optimizing the working areas on the line”, says Milesi, “then we talked with the supplier of the two clustering machines to define every detail. We then took care of the removal of the old machinery, the supply of the software for the management of the line and the mechanical assembly of the new conveyor belts, creating a system that included storage and aligning tables, to be able to convey the cans in a single row to the entrance of the clustering machines.

We also reviewed and upgraded the two packaging machines, optimizing them and adapting them to the new carton cluster, which saved the customer time and money. We were able to meet the deadlines requested by the HBC Group, always offering maximum availability and providing timely responses and immediate solutions to the needs arising during the construction phase”.

The Nogara plant is the largest production site of Coca-Cola HBC in Italy and, with 700 million liters produced annually and more than one billion packages, it is the first in Europe in terms of production capacity.

An extremely versatile line

The cans arrive at the factory ready to be filled and their journey begins at the depalletizer, which places them on a conveyor for transfer to the filling department. Along their path, the containers are checked by a system of cameras that ensures the integrity and the absence of internal foreign bodies, then, by means of blowers with ionized air, the sanitization of the cans takes place.

The filling has two distinct steps: the first is dedicated to the preparation of the drink, and the second to the actual filling. The capping with a crimping machine is the next step, before the cans are coded to guarantee their traceability.

The final step is the finalisation within the secondary packaging, which, thanks also to the system developed with the support of BBM, now takes place on an extremely versatile line, which can create a 24-cans tray loaded in bulk and the KeelClip format (clusters x4 and x6) inside the logistics tray. The two upgraded clustering machines optimise the volumes produced and increase the flexibility of the entire system.

More productivity, lower costs and consumption

“The design step is very important for a project of this kind, to evaluate the best solutions without wasting resources and time during the implementation, thus avoiding problems and additional costs in the future – explains Milesi of BBM.  A study project like this requires about three months of work, during which all the details are examined and there is a continuous exchange of information with the client.

Once this step is completed, delivery and testing are much simpler: It takes approximately two months for the realization of the conveying systems and one month for the testing and putting into production of the various formats. It was an ambitious project, but it was fully focused thanks to our expertise and technical skills.” This is confirmed by the Director of the Nogara plant: “We have established a relationship of maximum cooperation and fairness with BBM Service, and consider them to be excellent partners.

Ours is a long-standing partnership, born from the installation of several packaging machines for which BBM has been in charge of the annual maintenance. Over time, upgrades have become necessary for new formats and new types of bundles, for which we have always relied on the Bergamo-based company, including a re-layout of the packaging department and its rationalization.

All the technological choices related to our packaging plants are aimed at expanding our technical capabilities and ensuring productivity, cost optimization and resource savings, from energy to water. If I think of this last project – concludes Soriano – we have benefited from the maximum support of BBM, especially in the delicate phase of plant start-up, during which we faced some inevitable difficulties, considering also the complexity this type of cluster, unique on the market.”

“It was necessary to adapt and supply can conveyor belts to the new packaging machines, guaranteeing the appropriate speed for the machines and to remove the two shrink-wrapping machines previously used”.

For an increasingly circular economy

“At Coca-Cola HBC Italia we are constantly committed to designing, optimizing and using good practices that allow us to manage resources responsibly and, at the same time, generate added value for all our stakeholders, for the communities in which we operate and for our people. Our commitment is constant along the entire supply chain, from production and bottling to logistics and distribution through all sales channels, to ensure the highest possible quality of our products.

It’s no coincidence that the company is based on six core values: Being excellent, acting with integrity, winning with customers, taking care of our people, learning and acting as one team. 2020 has been a challenging year for us too; we have implemented several actions in favour of various operators of the catering sector along the entire supply chain, as a partner rather than as a supplier, and we have reinvested more than 2.5 million Euros in this segment, which is so important for us, through dedicated commercial, fiscal and communication policies.

In 2021 we definitely focussed on sustainability, on which over the last 10 years, we as a Group have invested more than 100 million Euros. We strive to find solutions that reduce our impact on the environment by promoting this responsibility at every stage of the value chain: We prefer agricultural ingredients grown in accordance with the principles of sustainable agriculture; we constantly innovate at every stage of the packaging lifecycle; we reduce energy consumption and emissions; and we manage our water resources responsibly.

In addition to the innovative KeelClipTM packaging system, made of FSC paper, which allows us to reduce our annual CO2 emissions by 50%, we have just launched the first 100% rPET Coca-Cola bottles, which will then be used for the other brands in the company’s portfolio – such as Fanta, Sprite and FuzeTea – for a total of 150 million packs in 2021 made entirely of recycled plastic. Another novelty is the entry, in our portfolio, of the Mezcal Perr de San Juan range, of which we have become official distributors for the catering sector all over Italy.

This is just one of the 5 agreements that we signed in 2020 and that led us to have a range of more than 50 Spirits references. Our vision is to be a 24/7 Beverage Partner, that is, a company that manages to offer products for all occasions of consumption, from breakfast to after dinner; customers and consumers are and will always remain at the center of all our choices, and that is why we will continue to renew and adapt our product portfolio, in order to intercept new consumer trends and always offer the highest quality standards.

We will undoubtedly continue our long-term sustainability strategy, called “World Without Waste”, which, in addition to the increasing use of recycled plastic in packaging, includes the reduction of raw material in glass, aluminium and plastic packaging, for an increasingly circular economy.”

A single partner to entrust the company

BBM Service is a company of 75 people, of which more than 50 specialized technicians who follow our projects both nationally and internationally. We have two production plants in the province of Bergamo, one in San Pellegrino Terme and one in Lenna; by the end of 2021, we will complete the expansion of the latter, reaching over 10,000 square meters, and we plan to open a foreign subsidiary, a project that has been slightly slowed down by the pandemic.

We choose our partners after a careful analysis, to offer our customers only the best performance; and we work worldwide for both large multinational groups – who rely on our assistance and maintenance services mainly for the availability and professionalism we show and for our tendency to optimize resources and time – and for small and medium-sized companies – who often turn to us to enhance their lines and for the supply of machinery, spare parts and used, overhauled and guaranteed bottling systems.

We offer ourselves as the only point of contact able to meet any bottling needs, so as not to leave anything to chance, from the analysis of feasibility to the evaluation of possible options, to the realization of the supply: If our strength is the offer of tailor-made solutions, reliability and competence are our cornerstones. We have a specialized office that deals with new projects and customized solutions and, in 2020 alone, we invested about € 620,000 in research, development and technological innovation.

In this period, among the systems most requested by our customers are the pick & place systems, which allow to automate the packaging of lines, optimizing the available space and reducing production times. These are compact and versatile solutions, for the handling of products of different kinds, their insertion into boxes, and tailor-made cartoning system for multilayer formats. Another great project requested by some of our customers is the universal combined blower-filler: we have created a machine called Unicom, which allows to combine a blower and a filler even of different brands, whatever they are.

This universal module is designed to optimize bottling lines, eliminating air conveyors, reducing the line size and saving significantly on water and energy costs. In this historic moment, flexibility and the possibility of offering a complete turnkey service are the key characteristics to be able to stand out on the market: the customer needs companies that can be both consultants and suppliers, and it is important not only to sell a product or a service, but to be able to understand first of all who is in front of you.

This is the only way to create lasting and concrete partnerships, such as the one between BBM Service and Coca-Cola HBC Italia. We are proud to be one of the Group’s preferred vendors and to have been part of a project with such a great ecological impact: For us, too, sustainability and environmental protection are key principles, which we also pursue within our own plants.”