UniPure: the flexible filtration solutions for wines

I have to admit: I’m not a connoisseur – for me, the label is in most cases determinant for what I buy. As far as the wine’s taste is concerned, it’s not a question of different lingering aftertastes for me but rather the very simple decision of “like – don’t like”. There is something, though, that even a Philistine like myself knows and sees at first glance: the wine (no matter whether it’s red or white) should be clear, not cloudy. I have now talked to one of my colleagues, who – together with his team – has recently been assuring that Krones’ clients can meet precisely this quality expectation with absolute dependability.

Stefan, basics first: what exactly is it that the new Krones UniPure removes from the wine by filtration?

UniPure is a filtration system with candle filters that removes particles, suspended matter and micro-organisms from still and sparkling wines, and from flavoured products.

So far, Krones has always produced filtration lines for wine-based beverages in response to a specific order, or if necessary outsourced them. Why was it that now an in-house filtration system was developed after all?

Some of the vendors we’ve been buying from so far are increasingly withdrawing from machinery business and concentrating primarily on the sale of the filter elements themselves. But obviously our clients continue to be in need of complete systems – we’ve repeatedly got feedback from our sales people that there’s a definite demand for this. It’s true that we’ve sold quite a lot of filtration systems to large wineries that were built in-house, but those were invariably customised one-off solutions involving elaborate design work on the part of Krones. To speed things up and also in order to be rigorously true to our motto of “everything single-sourced”, in 2015 we took the decision to develop our own filter system.

Krones has recently included the UniPure wine filter in its standard portfolio. For whom is this filtration system an interesting option?

Ultimately, for companies making any type of wine-based beverages – no matter whether it’s red wine, white wine, sparkling wine or a mixed drink. Our filtration system can play off its strength to particularly vivid effect when a firm is handling more than one of these products. It was precisely this multi-tasking versatility that constituted the crucial challenge in our development work, the result of which is a standard machine (with all the concomitant advantages like fast internal order processing) that offers a host of different configuration options and is thus able to handle a huge variety of products.

So far, we’ve been primarily focussing on the European market, and here on the large wineries and cooperatives, in particular – this is not least a cogent reason why the BrauBeviale offers us such a brilliant opportunity for premiering the new system.

You mentioned earlier on that you are liaising closely with the sales people. What customer requirements did they pass on to you?

One of the paramount priorities for our customers is the legal situation, which lays down that classical quality wines – in Germany designated “QbA”, in Italy known as DOC wines – must under no circumstances be mixed with flavoured products. This is an especially critical aspect for companies that produce a variety of different drinks: clients running only one filtering line must spend valuable time (that could be used for production) on cleaning the filter elements – otherwise, colours or flavours could be carried over from one product to the next. For some drinks, it’s impossible to “share” one filtering line, because the requisite filtering performance depends not least on the beverage’s alcohol content. So most bottlers prefer to work with two filtering lines equipped with different filters and running alternately. That’s precisely what our new filter system is designed to address.

So should I picture the UniPure as a platform on which the client uses customised filtering lines with product-specific filter candles? Is that right? So how does this filter replacement routine work?

Exactly – and in this context it was important for us to ensure that the client is flexible in his decision as to what filter candles and housings he wishes to integrate in his UniPure system, which is therefore compatible with the components of all the established manufacturers. Indeed, replacement and maintenance of the filter candles is not such a trivial issue as you might think – as a rule, the housings are so heavy that the operator can move them only with the aid of a crane. So as to minimise that outlay for our customers, we’ve also developed for the Krones UniPure an optional, mobile lifting device that enables the filter housing to be lifted and transported much more easily.

You’ve still got more questions on this issue? Well, then we shall perhaps be seeing you this week in Nuremberg at the BrauBeviale – Stefan Höller and his colleagues will be pleased to answer any questions you may have in Hall 7A.