Suntory Japan, manufacturer of soft drinks and spirits, has adopted Gebo AQFlex, Sidel’s conveying and accumulation solution, which it says ensures the highest level of product quality and optimises its line operations for its brand-new bottling facility.
Described as having a “smooth and contactless” single-file handling of containers, Gebo AQFlex was able to guarantee the full product integrity required by Suntory Japan while improving the overall line performance.
Suntory Japan says its key priority is reaching the highest levels of quality for its customers.
“Our philosophy is ‘Mizu To Ikiru’, that is, ‘Living with Water’. By this, we endeavour to ‘satisfy people like water’. Our highest priority was to ensure the best quality for our customers,” said Toshiya Kobayashi, COO at Suntory Japan's Global Technical Department.
Suntory Japan’s newest bottling facility, Shinano-no-mori Plant, is the production home for Tennensui mineral water, produced in what Suntory describes as one of the lightest PET bottles in Japan. The light weight of the bottle increases quality risks during production, such as dents being caused by contact between the bottles, or bottles falling.
Suntory Japan says it required a product handling solution that would ensure full product care by protecting the bottle’s exterior and preventing the possibility of bottles falling. The beverage manufacturer turned to Sidel and made the decision to adopt Gebo AQFlex.
Designed for all types of containers, Sidel’s all-in-one product conveying and accumulation solution ensures, it claims, the highest level of product quality, due to its gentle, 100 per cent contactless and single-lane handling of containers, thus fully meeting Suntory Japan’s expectations.
Suntory Japan approached Sidel to implement the Gebo AQFlex in its new plant after hearing about its success at Suntory France and witnessing the accumulation solution in action.
“After several visits to the Suntory France site where the Gebo AQFlex was already successfully installed and running, we were reassured that the solution would be able to reach the high performance and output levels we required,” said Toshiya Kobayashi.
Offering a compact, all-in-one design and reportedly operating fully automatically at an efficiency of more than 99.5 per cent whatever the speed, Sidels’ Gebo AQFlex solution enabled Suntory Japan to improve its line layout and guarantee the brand’s high level of productivity while ensuring the safety of its employees.
“Gebo AQFlex has improved our production line in many ways, from the space-saving aspect, the simplicity of layouts to the wide range of automation solutions, and it has contributed to improving the line’s operating rate and quality,” he added.
Complete customer support
The installation of the Gebo AQFlex commenced during Covid-19, limiting the ability of Gebo AQFlex experts to physically visit the plant. However, they fully supported Sidel local technicians and Suntory teams by carrying out a remote Factory Acceptance Test using AR glasses, and by providing 24/7 assistance during installation and commissioning. Once able, they visited the plant to fine-tune the machines and optimise efficiency. As the only plant producing Tennensui mineral water, the site must run 24/7 therefore Sidel’s remote support proved even more important by ensuring the production line was never stopped.
“Our project with Suntory Japan demonstrated Sidel’s focus on prioritising its customers’ needs, which was shown through the performance of the equipment and full dedication in project support and follow-ups,” said Nicolas Bossert, Gebo AQFlex product and business development manager.
Flexibility for the future
While Suntory Japan currently only manufactures two types of bottles at its new plant, the small, 550-mL plastic bottle and the large, 2-L plastic bottle, Sidel’s Gebo AQFlex offers enhanced flexibility which can easily increase and introduce new bottle formats if needed in the future.
“The solution can accommodate any product, whatever the application, in all container materials, formats and shapes. It is sold all around the world and can be used in many different market categories highlighting its impressive flexibility.” concluded Bossert.