Consumers have appreciated the advantages of the beverage can for decades, yet just recently the market share for cans has again showed a marked increase.
There are numerous reasons for this. On the one hand, more and more energy drinks are being sold in cans; on the other, the craft movement is pushing this development by increasingly filling soft drinks, hard seltzer, beer and cider into this format.
KHS can also look back on a long tradition in this segment. The Dortmund engineering company entered the American can market over 50 years ago. Since then it has asserted itself with numerous new technologies and positioned itself as one of the world’s leading providers of canning equipment. The turnkey supplier is once again building on its decades of expertise to continuously further improve its tried-and-tested systems. A whole host of recent updates is designed to make the can fillers for the high- and medium-capacity ranges even more flexible and hygienic.
Back in 2014 the systems provider presented the first can filler in a totally new generation in the form of its Innofill Can DVD that can process up to 135,000 cans an hour. In 2017 KHS began specifically targeting SME canners with its compact Innofill Can C can filler that at the time was able to fill a maximum of 28,000 cans per hour.
Gentle can guiding and filling
Both machines offer many advantages and set standards – in hygiene, for example, thanks to the reduced cleaning effort; the extremely hygienic design and elimination of water lubrication in the filler carousel area prevent the open cans from being soiled. This allows cleaning intervals for exterior cleaning to be lengthened.
The most important upgrade in relation to hygiene on the Innofill Can DVD, however, is the pneumatic lowering device for the centering bells. Unlike on previous models these are no longer moved mechanically by rollers and cams. Instead, the proven pneumatic lifting and lowering motion found on the smaller Innofill Can C filler is now also being used here, explains Manfred Härtel, filling product manager at KHS. “With this system we reduce the number of fittings on the valve. On a filler, the rollers especially are subject to heavy wear. This means that a certain amount of abrasion can be caused above the open cans. With this now no longer an issue in the future, we’ve managed to again considerably increase what was already a very high level of hygiene.”
The first Innofill Can DVD to feature the new technological functions went into operation at Radegast Brewery in Nošovice in the Czech Republic in the spring of 2020.
The lifting and lowering of the bells is intelligently controlled. As cans are becoming ever thinner as weight and materials are saved, it’s particularly important to guide and fill the containers as gently as possible. Pneumatic actuation allows the contact pressure to be adapted to suit different qualities of material. The once new technology has long outgrown its pioneer status and since proved itself on the market many times over; the recent technological upgrades have improved it even further.
“We satisfy high hygiene requirements, especially those made by sensitive beverages such as non-alcoholic beer, mixed beer beverages and flavored ciders,” Härtel continues. KHS can fillers not only display a high standard of hygiene inside the machine but also outside it – an aspect that’s becoming increasingly important in view of the trend towards beers and mixed beverages with less or no alcohol. “Our filling valves are famous for their hygienic properties, compact design and simple handling and maintenance,” states Härtel. This is especially beneficial to bottlers with a wide assortment of products, this requiring maximum flexibility of the technical equipment on the production line.