In the ongoing trend for beverage cans in South America Cervecería y Maltería Quilmes, one of the oldest breweries in Argentina, continues to trust in the reliability and efficiency of its partner of many decades KHS. The AB InBev subsidiary has now fully replaced a glass line at its facility in Buenos Aires with KHS technology for can filling and packaging. Quilmes recently invested in the high-capacity KHS Innofill Can DVD can filler plus several packers and palletizers, among other equipment.
Quilmes – both the brewery and the beer – is one of the most popular beverage brands in South America and has gone for a distinctive Argentinian image, with the packaging for its well-known classic lager even designed in the colors of the national flag: light blue and white. The brewery has German roots, however; it was founded in the capital of Buenos Aires at the end of the 19th century by a businessman from Cologne, Otto Bemberg. The company now belongs to beverage giant AB InBev, which with an almost 60% market share is a key player in the South American beverage industry. Both enjoy long-term business relations with KHS that in the case of Quilmes date back around 50 years.
Strong local partner
The brewery’s most recent investment is also the result of this reliable cooperation. “Quilmes approached us with their wish for a new canning line in order to better meet the growing demand in this segment,” says David Servio. The decision to award the Dortmund turnkey supplier the contract was an easy one, as the KHS key account manager for AB InBev South America emphasizes, “Besides running our own production site in Brazil we also maintain a tight-knit local sales and service network made up of experienced specialist personnel. This means that we were able to deliver and commission the new machines quickly. Quilmes really appreciates this competitive advantage.” The extremely professional project management on both sides also played a central role in the successful installation of the line. “Here, everything went hand in hand,” Servio smiles.
Extra flexibility: can filler for all beer varieties and formats
In addition to KHS’ strong regional presence, the machinery’s high degree of efficiency and flexibility also had the Argentinian brewer convinced. The Innofill Can DVD currently has a filling capacity of 90,000 cans per hour – although this rate can be considerably increased, with the high-performance filler capable of a maximum output of 135,000 containers per hour. The machine’s special hygienic design makes for high product quality and safety during filling. Furthermore, the volumetric filling principle permits exact filling accuracy and fast product changeovers. “Our can filler can easily process all varieties of beer in the Quilmes portfolio. It’s just as flexible when converting over to the various formats, with the 350-milliliter size the most popular at the moment,” states Servio in reference to the preferences of local consumers.
The biggest market by far is Argentina, with the brand nevertheless also very popular in Chile, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. “We consider this project to be a major success for AB InBev, for of all the canning lines we’ve commissioned in the same period in various parts of the world, this one had the strongest ramp-up and far exceeded the expected volume. It also satisfies all of the requirements of our global technical specifications and our worldwide quality standards,” stresses Marcelo Petramale, global manager for packaging engineering and CapEx at AB InBev.
Optimum packaging quality in the dry section
By way of supplement to the new line, Quilmes also invested in two packaging systems. One is the Innopack Kisters SP shrink packer that achieves reliable, high-quality packaging results with its shrink technology. The second is the Innopack Kisters PSP pad shrink packer that allows the brewery to gently wrap its packs either in film only or on pads and in film, giving it added flexibility.
With its Innopal PB NF non-returnables palletizer KHS has installed powerful technology with a low-level pack feed that palletizes a range of different packs. The dry section is rounded off by the Innopal AS H depalletizer that with its cutting-edge servo technology keeps maintenance down to a minimum and gently feeds the new containers to the packaging line practically loss-free.
First-class service in all phases of the project
From order processing to installation and from the test phase to commissioning of the new canning line the project had the extensive support of KHS’ local experts. One of their important tasks was to train Quilmes’ operators. “Our employees were instructed on all machines in two phases, both before and after commissioning,” says Paulo Zeferino, AB InBev implementation coordinator for ZBS South America Zone. Should the brewery need further support from KHS, it can trust in the engineering company’s remote-control system. “This service is a huge help with maintenance or minor repairs. We can rest assured that KHS will provide us with support at any time quickly and efficiently without actually having to be on site,” Zeferino states. “And should more intensive maintenance or larger repairs be necessary, our KHS colleagues aren’t that far away.”