• Investment in sustainable manufacturing: Robert Iervasi, CEO, Asahi Beverages Group
    Investment in sustainable manufacturing: Robert Iervasi, CEO, Asahi Beverages Group
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A $55 million investment in an upgraded manufacturing site outside Ipswich secures Asahi Beverages a major manufacturing presence in South-East Queensland and brings new beverage filling and packaging technology to the plant.

Popular beverage brands including Schweppes, Solo and Pepsi Max are manufactured and packaged at the site, and following this upgrade, other leading beverages will be produced there too, including Cool Ridge water, Lipton Iced Tea and Pop Tops juice.

It's official: the upgraded plant was opened by (from left) Roland van Bommel, chairman of Asahi Holdings Australia; Atsushi Katsuki, global president and CEO of Asahi Group Holdings, and Robert Iervasi, Asahi Beverages Group CEO.
It's official: the upgraded plant was opened by (from left) Roland van Bommel, chairman of Asahi Holdings Australia; Atsushi Katsuki, global president and CEO of Asahi Group Holdings, and Robert Iervasi, Asahi Beverages Group CEO.

This latest expansion brings Asahi’s investment at the Wulkuraka plant to more than $100 million in the last five years. It has also created more than 12 new jobs, with the plant now employing around 130 people full time.

The upgraded plant was officially opened on 24 June by Atsushi Katsuki, global president and CEO of Asahi Group Holdings, Roland van Bommel, chairman of Asahi Holdings Australia, and Robert Iervasi, Asahi Beverages Group CEO.

According to Iervasi, the equipment highlight at the upgraded facility is the hot-fill, blow-fill line, which will make Lipton Iced Tea and Pop Tops.

Robert Iervasi said, “The line’s innovative design means these drinks will be made without preservatives and using bottles inflated [blown] on-site from small pieces of preformed plastic [preforms]. These are more sustainable than pre-inflated bottles because many more can be delivered to site per truckload – significantly reducing truck trips and carbon emissions.

“This will help Asahi Beverages reach its sustainability goal of reducing Scope 3 carbon emissions across its entire supply chain by 30 per cent by 2030. Asahi Beverages will also reduce carbon emissions in its operations by 50 per cent by 2025.”

The blow-fill technology is supplied by Krones, who told PKN this equipment was originally installed in a plant in Tatura, VIC and has been relocated to Asahi Wulkuraka. Automation and integration specialist Foodmach handled the relocation and refit. End-of line packaging systems have been supplied by KHS.

The filling line includes a blow-fill bloc between the Krones Contiform C324-Multiprocess and Modulfill VFS filler. The line is capable of filling still products hot (87deg C) or carbonated products cold (17 deg C), with Asahi currently only using the hotfill function.

The blow moulder is equipped with preform inspection as well as PET-view, which inspects the blown bottle for imperfections. The line also includes Krones' Sleevematic MD2 with Multireel fully automatic reel changeover, which is located after the bottle cooler.

This line is producing Lipton Iced Tea (500ml and 1.5 litre) and Pop Tops (250ml) along with future scope to produce other preservative-free products. According to Krones, the rated line speed for 500ml Lipton Ice Tea is 40,000 bottles/hour.

A second packaging line will produce Asahi Beverages’ Cool Ridge and Frantelle spring water range, along with spring water produced on contract for major customers. It is expected to be operational in August and is a blow-fill line.

The upgrade of the Wulkuraka site involved the construction of a new manufacturing hall to accommodate two production lines and associated processing equipment. It also included a 39-metre-high warehouse from where drinks are shipped across Australia. The facility will operate 24/7.

The Asahi plant in Wulkuraka will now produce 300 million litres of non-alcoholic beverages each year.

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