Aseptic lines in Lifecycle Service – the Ferrari in maintenance
Both customers and colleagues tend to furrow their brow when aseptics are mentioned and like to dub them “rocket science”. Some fellow workers are fond of this comparison: What we’re dealing with here is not a Volkswagen beetle but a Ferrari. Aseptic lines are also regarded as one of the most complex type of equipment in Lifecycle Service.
These uncertainties concerning aseptics are in no way alleviated by present-day circumstances –worldwide travel restrictions really put our customer responsiveness to the test at times. But since both our clients and we at Krones have for quite some time now attached high importance to this subject, we have over the past few years already taken a series of precautions. For instance, we have trained a great number of validation engineers and service technicians at our various international facilities to give them the skills they need to expertly handle aseptics kit. An approach validated by its success because the requisite contact persons are now available locally and can even in these difficult times provide comprehensive assistance in regard to any microbiological and technical challenges encountered, thus making sure our clients continue to get properly targeted, fast support.
Maintenance in consultation with the customer
Close-to-client proximity is especially important to us when it comes to maintenance: Thanks to years of experience in this field, Krones has great know-how as far as after-sales service support for aseptic lines is concerned – which we share with our customers, of course. Our maintenance concepts are drawn up in close consultation with our clients and rigorously focused on their specific needs while also factoring in their expertise in the field of aseptics. The first aseptic lines built by Krones have meanwhile been up and running for 20 years and continue to deliver very good service. These lines are so reliable and our customers so well versed in handling them that our support is not needed during the year. Newcomers in field of aseptics technology, by contrast, are given intensive support. Our clients know about the additional stress on the machines, besides running at top speeds, caused by aggressive media and high temperatures in hygienic-design production lines and have understood what it is exactly that these machines need:
- Compliance with the ambient conditions specified
- Correct storage and quality of the consumables used
- Staff taking great pains to ensure that daily maintenance and cleaning routines are properly performed
- Preventive maintenance in line with specified intervals, 100 sterilisation cycles or after one year, depending on what comes first
Professional care, maintenance and servicing are important components to ensure lengthy line lifetimes. When compared to conventional filling kit, in aseptics even the tiniest of details is crucial in determining whether the machinery’s potential is utilised to optimum effect. When our clients perform the maintenance routines as specified and play by the rules, all of them will be able to effectively handle aseptics. Even if maintenance of aseptic lines seems to be a costly business at first glance, one should never lose sight of product safety and the producers’ responsibility in relation to consumers. Products filled on an aseptic line must be put into the bottle under especially safe and reliable conditions for them to have a dependably long shelf-life. Knowing this, our customers are more than pleased to invest in proper maintenance routines in order to guarantee not only product safety but also good machine performance in the long term.
I can hardly wait to see what the future will bring with all its digital innovations. Perhaps, in up to five years’ time machines will be able to signal an impending problem early enough and in sufficient detail, so that standstills can be forestalled before they even happen. There is one thing I can definitely promise you: We are working flat out to progress aseptics in this way, too. You can look forward to a few surprises – We will keep you up to date.