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Sustaining success at Coca-Cola

There may be no more globally famous consumer brand than Coca-Cola. Always looking to introduce innovative processes and products while maintaining the traditions and product quality that are demanded of such a well-known company can be a daunting task.

In parts of Europe and Africa, this task falls to the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC), Zug, Switzerland, which was formed in 2000 when the Hellenic Bottling Company SA acquired Coca-Cola Beverages Ltd. Today, Coca-Cola HBC operates in 28 countries ranging from Ireland in the west to the Pacific Coast of Russia in the east and the Arctic Circle in the north to Nigeria in the south. In 2015, Coca-Cola HBC produced more than two billion unit cases, or the equivalent of approximately 50 billion servings, of sparkling (carbonated) soft drinks and still drinks like water, juices, teas and energy drinks.

Sustainability is integrated across every aspect of Coca-Cola HBC’s business. In Hungary, Coca-Cola HBC operates nine facilities, two of which are manufacturing plants while the rest are warehouses. The largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in Hungary is in the city of Dunaharaszti, located about 15 kilometers (10 miles) south of the Hungarian capital of Budapest.

“Sustainability at Coca-Cola is very important,” according to Coca-Cola HBC’s Zoltán Marincsák, maintenance manager for the Dunaharaszti facility. “Coca-Cola is the most famous brand in the world, so people expect a certain quality, and we also try to reduce day by day our carbon footprint or effect on the environment.”

The beverage-production process in Dunaharaszti involves receiving constant shipments of different consignments of raw materials and components such as sugar, concentrates, bases and syrups. These components are then transformed into drinks like Coke, Sprite, Cappy Juices, Nestea Iced Tea, Kinley, Lift and Powerade sports drinks.

A key link in the production chain is the unloading of the tanker trucks that deliver the base components to the syrup room. Focusing on production efficiency, Coca-Cola HBC decided to employ a “just in time” approach for its supply of concentrates. Because of this, it is imperative that unloading times are optimized and that no delays are experienced. In addition, these concentrates, bases and syrups must be handled in the most sanitary manner possible.

This process puts tremendous pressure on the pumps used to unload the tankers and transfer the beverage components to storage and holding tanks. The unloading of trucks was a job that the existing twin screw pumps were finding increasingly difficult to perform safely and satisfactorily at the plant.

“It would also take about four to six hours to empty one tank, and due to the low temperature and highly viscous nature of the concentrates we were transferring, the pumps would sometimes freeze,” said Marincsák. “The twin screw pumps were not able to empty out the total system, so from every tanker we had a lot of wasted product.”

Marincsák began a search for a solution and turned to PROBC Kft., a Miskolc, Hungary-based distributor of pumps and industrial equipment for use in industrial liquid-transfer applications. During a visit to the Dunaharaszti facility, it was clear to Richard Lackner and David Pétervári, co-owners of PROBC, that the existing pump technology was at the problem.

“We realized that the main challenge was with the pump, but there was also an improvement to be done in the piping at the connection to the system,” recalled Pétervári. “By changing the pump and adapting the piping, we knew they could solve the problems that the twin screw pump was causing, including low unloading speeds from trucks, cavitation that caused noise, large energy consumption and very high maintenance costs.”

PROBC’s solution was to introduce the SLS Series Eccentric Disc Pump from Mouvex®, Auxerre, France, a product brand of PSG. SLS Series pumps are designed for use in the food, beverage, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. The pumps feature a seal-less design that incorporates a hermetic pump head with a self-adjustable eccentric shaft protected by a double-wall stainless-steel bellows that ensures long life and product safety. Eliminating mechanical seals, packing and magnetic drives, Mouvex pumps reduce the risk of product contamination and costly leakages while avoiding messy spills, waste and product spoilage. This design has helped the SLS pumps earn certification from EC 1935/2004, EHEDG, 3A and FDA for use in food-processing applications.

The disc technology provides strong vacuum and compression effect for enhanced line stripping and optimized product recovery; low shear rate; self-priming and dry-run capabilities; exceptional volumetric consistency; no slip; and almost completely pulsation-free operation. The pump has only two wear parts, making in-line maintenance easy.

Cavitation and vibration have been eliminated, and energy and water usage has been  “But the best benefit for Coca-Cola HBC,” according to Pétervári, “is that the SLS pump guarantees a higher rate of product recovery because the Mouvex pump can suck much more concentrate from the container and push more of it through the pipeline to the tank.”

Marincsák says it’s very important that there are no seals where foreign material can enter the system, so the hygienic design of the Mouvex pump was a plus. “Although there was a strong argument to justify integrating the Mouvex pump into the system, the key selling point was the recovery of pure concentrate and the contribution to the facility’s sustainability goals. More than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) were left in the truck and pipe system with the old pump. With the Mouvex, less than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) remain in the pump and the piping system.

“With the Mouvex pump we eliminate waste, we reduce water and energy consumption, and our maintenance costs are reduced. We also get very good technical support from PROBC and PSG, which is very important to me,” Marincsák states.