The installation was for a new company set up to serve the whole southeastern region of Asia. When Thai businessman, Pongsakorn Pongsak established the General Beverage Company Limited in his home country, he was entering the beverage industry for the first time. In doing so, he turned to Sidel for the first time too, for the supply of a turnkey aseptic PET packaging line.
From textiles to aseptic bottling
Founder and owner, Kitti Pongsakdi (Pongsakorn's father), originally established the textile company, 'Suwan Spinning and Weaving' - which is today one of the top producer of yarn and fabric in Thailand - along with other textile business interests. This latest manufacturing venture in the beverage industry by Mr. Pongsakorn Pongsak in the General Beverage Company saw the business become a co-packer for the major ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) beverage producers.
A supplier to provide the right turnkey solution
Following a visit to the Sidel exhibition stand at Anuga in Germany in 2012, the world's largest food and beverage trade show, senior managers from General Beverage were introduced to Sidel technology and witnessed aseptic filling for the first time ever. They became keen on Sidel's aseptic filler and the company's overall technology capabilities. Several project discussions and meetings were conducted with Sidel's expert team to consider the solution that best matched the customer's needs. Mr. Pongsak's company, General Beverage, wanted a supplier able to supply a turnkey safe and flexible solution to produce broad ranges of high-grade beverages like coffee, tea, milk and fruit juices - the Thai producer choosing to partner with Sidel to import nearly all of its packaging equipment. As a result, Sidel designed, manufactured, supplied, installed and commissioned the entire bottling line.
Three distinct stages for development
The plant, which is in Bangkok only 60 km away from Sidel's local office, is being built at a cost of nearly 120 million Euro (160 million dollars) in three distinct stages. The first stage - already completed - now boasts the country's fastest production line of PET aseptically filled bottles. It includes: a Sidel SBO20 Universal2eco blow moulder equipped with the Ecoven which reduces energy consumption; the first-ever Sidel aseptic filler to handle production of particulates size 5 mm x 5 mm x 5 mm connected to an Aidlin Eco cap feeder.
It has a production capacity of 40,000 bottles per hour and is the most-advanced, eco-friendly, manufacturing system in the region. The factory's second stage will follow in mid-2014, while the third and final stage is scheduled to be finished over the following five years. The company performed roadshows across the country and other South East Asian nations to announce its presence as the supplier of various packaged products including coffee, tea, milk and fruit juices covering over 20 local and overseas brands.
High-technology co-packer for entire ASEAN region
The purpose-built plant of General Beverage was set up in the Sam Phran district of Nakhon Pathom to drive the market with its innovative packaging facilities for safe, high-grade food products. The company is offering its services for aseptic PET filling as a high technology co-packer to major players in both domestic and nearby international markets. The line can handle high volumes of high quality beverages of low or high acidity, including the most sensitive products. It was the very first Sidel aseptic line of any kind to be installed in Thailand, where the tropical conditions make aseptic production even more challenging. The line is currently set up to produce a nutritional drink with high dietary fibre (white grape juice with pieces of aloe vera), yoghurt and milk in a 280 ml format - with green tea and juice in the larger 350 ml format. Being new to the beverage industry, the company's decision to bottle such sensitive products was a bold move as it necessitates having the specialist knowledge required setting up and maintaining the most stringent standards of food safety to protect the integrity of the products being bottled. However, through working closely with Sidel and drawing on the company's extensive expertise and experience in developing solutions for aseptic production, the challenges were readily overcome.
Commenting on the project, Kongkiat Ramphaisri, South East Asia Pacific (SEAP) Zone Business Development for Sensitive Products at Sidel, said - "We have worked closely with General Beverage to evaluate their products' characteristics, packaging materials, bottle designs and aseptic filling technologies. This has ensured we can provide the highest quality, hygiene and food safety, together with optimum efficiency of the production line."
Helping to stimulate an already growing market
General Beverage is positioning itself as a company that will drive the SEAP beverage market by adopting innovative packaging strategies and offering high quality, high grade products. Within the region, the juice drinks, teas and sports drinks sector is forecast to grow by 4% per annum over the next 4 years, with the market share of PET bottles in this sector to grow by 6% as consumers increasingly recognise the material as more convenient and lighter than glass, and more hygienic than HDPE.
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