High Speed Bottling in Mecca

    Krones filling System

    One of Saudi-Arabia’s biggest water producers has opted for high-speed bottling. At a speed of 81,000 containers per hour, a new PET bottling line is humming busily away at Makkah Water in its Mecca facility. This corresponds to an incredible 22.5 bottles per second: the highest speed that Krones is currently achieving in PET bottling. Makkah Water’s production operation is above all highly focused, concentrating exclusively on filling still water. In Mecca, the company fills its water exclusively in PET bottles, in three different sizes. Around 85% of the water in Saudi-Arabia goes into PET containers, and according to Euromonitor, things are set to stay that way. Up to 2019, at least, the market for water in PET is forecast to grow by an annual average of 4.4%.

    Water is booming
    Besides the growth of the populace, which is at an incredible 18% a year at present, the growth of packaged water in Saudi-Arabia is driven by two other factors: firstly the increase in numbers of youthful inhabitants, and secondly a rising level of health awareness among the population as a whole, but predominantly among the middle-aged. For them sports and exercises are getting more and more important.

    “The decision-makers, responsible this time, opted for a block solution integrated into a complete line from Krones”

    Investments on a continuous basis
    So as to be able to meet this gratifying level of demand adequately in the future as well, the Bin Zomah Group has been purposefully channeling capital investment into its two facilities at Mecca and Al Janoub. In Late 2015 and early 2016, the water bottler commissioned one blow-molder/filler block each in Mecca and Al Janoub, rated at 49,500 containers per hour. In doing this, Makkah Water for the first time took the plunge into the world of a block-type layout, away from the traditional set-up where container production and the filling kit, are connected to each other by air conveyors. Ahmed Al Geddawi, Assistant General Manager, says: “The block construction was a crucial reason for choosing the lines.” In 2016, with its most recent investment, Makkah Water even went one step further. The decision-makers, responsible this time, opted for a block solution integrated into a complete line from Krones – and that at the maximum possible filling speed of 81,000 containers per hour. This new line runs only 0.33-litre containers. This means: no carbon dioxide, no flavors, no format change-overs, no intermediate cleaning routines before switching to a different product – in short: a “dedicated line”. The filling process in particular is truly impressive: the containers seem to “fly” out of the machine, with individual bottles hard to discern for the human eye. Needless to say that when you’re running the line at such a high speed, everything has to be “spot-on”. And this is precisely what Krones ensures with its Modulfill VFJ filler, which is fitted with 156 filling valves and has a pitch circle diameter of 4.3 meters. It has been integrated into a cleanroom featuring HEPA filters for keeping the air in flawless condition. The filler has been block-synchronized with a Contiform S stretch blow-molding machine, a combination that is instrumental in achieving this incredibly high speed. The lubricants from KIC Krones provide additional support for the smooth running of the high-speed line, which was in its entirety erected by Krones at the facility in Mecca, commissioned by Krones in January 2016 and by April had already passed its acceptance test. 

    “…the water bottler intends to build a third filling plant either in Eastern or in the Central part of the Kingdom”

    Krones Filling System

    Sights set firmly on the future
    “So far I’m very satisfied. And I’m quite sure things will stay that way in the future as well, because Krones’ after-sales service support team are doing an excellent job indeed,” explains Ali Saad Bin Zomah, General Manager at Makkah Water and General Manager and Member of the Board at Al-Janoub Water. “We’d given some in-depth thought to the subject of high-speed lines before we decided to install one. We can look back on a lengthy business relationship with Krones, which is why we are convinced that nothing untoward will be coming our way from this company. The line’s design is outstanding, we’re very happy with our line.”
    Magdy Osman, Makkah Water’s Plant Manager, adds: “The minimized footprint, in conjunction with the high output, is this line’s absolute highlight. We opted for this high-speed line firstly because of our complete confidence in Krones’ technology, and secondly because of the space-saving layout. We have already changed over three lines featuring conventional technology with air conveyors to a blow-molder/filler block, thus achieving higher efficiency levels on a reduced footprint. The new line, too, is running at an efficiency of more than 96%.” Ahmed Al Geddawi, Assistant General Manager, emphasizes especially the service-idea of Krones: “Thanks to Krones’ three echelons of service support, on local and regional levels, and from the company headquarters in Germany, availability of the lines is assured at all times.” The next phase of expansion is already in the planning stage: in view of the gratifying experience gained with the block configuration, Makkah Water will now for the first time be using a wet-end block, an ErgoBloc L consisting of stretch blow-molder, labeler and filler. In order to render its supply operations in the east of this vast country more efficient, the water bottler intends to build a third filling plant either in Eastern or in the Central part of the Kingdom where the company aims to install not one but two ErgoBloc L systems straight away, each with a maximum output of 81,000 containers an hour.
    Krones AG