Concentrated manpower for a mega-project

In order to install and commission a high-bay warehouse and four PET lines within just two and a half years or so, you primarily need two things: a sophisticated master plan and can-do teamwork.

About four years ago, Britvic, one of the UK’s biggest soft-drink producers, got in touch with Krones for the first time, with a very specific idea: instead of producing its beverages at plants distributed all over the country as hitherto, the company wanted in future to confine itself to just three locations – which were to be completely modernised and expanded. The order comprised a total of seven new PET lines, plus a fully automated high-bay warehouse from System Logistics – for the three facilities in Leeds, Beckton and Rugby.

My colleague Matthias and I visited the last of these plants in summer, to conduct interviews and take photos for an article in the Krones magazine. And although the lines were already in full production mode and the warehouse was full of pallets down to almost the very last slot, there were still some Krones staff on site. One of them was Lukas Hausladen, who is responsible for one of the lines as Project Manager: “I took over the project from installation of the machines and lines. As from mid-October, I was on site for eight months in all, to look after the installation and commissioning work.  And after that, I was regularly on site, like now, to see if everything’s running smoothly.” And it was: because for all seven lines Britvic had opted for similar concepts and layouts. So obviously, thanks to reproducible settings, the commissioning and acceptance test phases were completed faster with each line.

Kilian Richter was responsible for ensuring that the aseptic fillers were running smoothly, and were handed over to the client in faultless condition. As the service technician for the aseptic block, he had likewise been in Rugby since November – and even remained there after the acceptance tests, so as to support and train Britvic’s operators in the initial phase, particularly: “Commissioning the aseptic lines is a significantly more elaborate job than with standard fillers. Because when you have to make re-adjustments during production, and the line has to be opened up for them, then you have to run a sterilisation routine: first rinse with hot water, then dry with hot air, and finally decontaminate with H2O2 gas. That takes about an hour, which also means an hour of production downtime.” Kilian has been working for Krones since the end of 2015 – and commissions primarily aseptic fillers all over Europe. For this purpose, he stays for an average of nine months in the same place. Where’s he going after Rugby? “First of all to Neutraubling for some training, and then I’ll have to wait and see,” says Kilian.

Lukas Hausladen on the left, Kilian Richter on the right

Even in the final phase of the project, there was still plenty of support from Germany on site, which won praise, too, from Clive Hooper, Chief Supply Chain Director at Britvic: “If ever things got a bit tricky, then Krones immediately sent service support from Germany, and pulled out all the stops to promptly solve any problems.”

For anyone keen to know what Britvic has to say about the project and the collaboration with Krones, and what the lines and the high-bay warehouse at Rugby look like, we did of course bring back with us from the trip a film, plus photos and articles – we hope you enjoy viewing and reading them.