Aseptic Filling Technology

Reliable and efficient – with Eaton’s UPS we were able to significantly increase our company’s productivity.
- Marco Ghirardi Equipment HW Design Manager at GEA Procomoac


Background
Situated in Sala Baganza, near Parma, GEA Procomac has more than 35 years of experience in the design, production and installation of aseptic filling lines for drinks such as fruit juices, energy drinks, milk-based drinks, soya milk and cold infusions. GEA Procomac also designs, produces and installs complete, integrated transport, palletisation and depalletisation systems for packaging lines in the food, drink and packaging industry in general.

With more than 400 employees, sales offices and representatives in more than 70 countries in the world, GEA Procomac’s client base includes some of the main global manufacturers in the food and drink sector. Since 2007, the company has formed part of GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft, an internationally successful company listed on the German MDAX with 18,000 employees worldwide.

Challenges
One of the main technological innovations developed by GEA Procomac is the ABF (Aseptic Blow Fill) system. This system involves sterilising the bottle preform with gas-phase hydrogen peroxide and blowing it in an aseptic blower, so that each bottle is already sterile when transferred to the filler, which is also aseptic. The blow fill capsulator assembly is sealed inside a microbiological isolator, which is sterilised with each start of production and kept sterile as a result of sterile air overpressure.

GEA Procomac bietet auch die Technologie der „Nass-Sterilisation” auf Basis von Peressigsäure für die Sterilisierung von Verschlüssen und Flaschen an, die 2008 von der amerikanischen Food & Drug Administration (FDA) eine Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung („Letter of no Objection”, LONO) erhielt. Dieses Verfahren beruht auf einem Peressigsäure-Fluss bei kontrollierter Temperatur, Konzentration und Kontaktzeit und ermöglicht die Sterilisierung der Innen- und Außenflächen des Flaschenkörpers und -halses in einem Prozess. Die Sterilisierung jeder Flasche wird mithilfe von kraftvollen Düsen durchgeführt, die ein „Smart Sensor” automatisch überwacht.

GEA Procomac also offers ‘wet’ sterilisation technology based on peracetic acid for sterilising caps and bottles that, in 2008, obtained a Letter of No Objection (LONO) from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). This treatment comprises a flow of peracetic acid at a controlled temperature and concentration for a controlled contact duration and allows the sterilisation of the internal and external surfaces of the body and neck of the bottle in a single passage. The correct sterilisation of each bottle is ensured by penetrating nozzles that are automatically controlled by a ‘Smart Sensor’.

This delicate and complex sterilisation process is made possible by a series of electric motors and pumps performing a primary role in maintaining the environment inside the blow and fill machines completely aseptic. Therefore, a sudden stop of the motors and pumps caused by a temporary electricity failure would result in the loss of the sterile environment and seriously jeopardise the production process. An event of this type would lead to the loss of the product undergoing processing and halt production for around four hours before it would be possible to restore the asepticity of the environment. Therefore, guaranteeing a continuous flow of electricity is key to preventing problems of this type.

Solution
Specifically designed for applications in an industrial environment, Eaton’s UPS 93E was selected by GEA Procomac to guarantee the supply of clean, continuous power to the pumps and motors of the bottling lines. Available from 80 to 400 kVA, depending on customer requirements, this innovative device for managing the power supply was chosen by the company for its efficiency, robustness, reliability and ability to withstand the adverse environmental conditions of an industry such as bottling.

“We chose Eaton as our supplier for two main reasons – the efficiency and reliability of the product in industrial environments,” explained Marco Ghirardi, Equipment HW Design Manager at GEA Procomac. “However, we were also won over by the valuable support that Eaton provided during the design phase as well as the global presence of the company which is, therefore, able to satisfy the requirements of an international group such as GEA.”

Reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) by combining energy efficiency, maximum reliability and compact dimensions, the 93E is the ideal solution for applications requiring highly reliable power supply protection. Furthermore, this UPS allows a significant reduction in operating costs owing to 98.5 percent energy efficiency.

Results
As a result of the support of Eaton’s uninterruptible power supplies, the aseptic bottling lines of GEA Procomac are able to contribute to a significant increase in the company’s productivity. “Assuming around 40 events in which a UPS intervenes to prevent problems relating to a disruption to the system,” Ghirardi explains, “if the line had to shut down for approximately four hours for each of these, installing a UPS would mean a productivity increase of around 160 hours per year.”

Thanks to its filtration and reset function, the UPS also contributes to eliminating problems of harmonic distortions and relative components operating under abnormal conditions, thus preventing their premature wear and overdimensioning.