The new line, which will replace an existing squash line, has an extremely small footprint (just 1,500m2) and marks a continual programme of investment at the site, at which production started in 1961. While making the whole range of Coca-Cola and Schweppes soft drink brands, the site lays claim to being "the GB home of Powerade", according to operations director Steve Adams.
Prior to the new line's start up, the site employed 370 staff working across seven production lines producing in excess of 42M cases of soft drink products a year. It has the largest range of packaging types of any CCE plant in the UK, including cans, plastic and glass bottles. Around 120 articulated vehicles pass through the site each day.
The new turnkey line from KHS will initially produce 150ml and 330ml cans, with plans to introduce 500ml cans in future. It includes a depalletiser, filler, blender, tray shrink packer and single palletiser, which uses two Kuka robots for layer formation. It also has a GPI third generation twinstack board multipacker.
The line will feature several innovative features. These include a non-destructive online automatic X-ray seam inspection device from Sencon; online weight checks against the filler head; air replacing water rinsing of empty cans; and coding of cans prior to filling.
Other novel features include a vision system for empty can inspection to remove out of specification cans prior to filling and seaming; and no can twists on the line, where cans are traditionally inverted to check for seaming failures or small micro leaks. Instead the new line will use an ultrasonic bath to excite the product to detect leaks.
By removing the can twists, changeover time is reduced. Also, the number of operator 'touch points' is reduced, which helps to reduce can damage.
The installation has involved major construction work to bring the area up to the latest CCE specifications, including flooring, tiling, drainage and lighting. The materials warehouse will be increased from 1,300 pallet locations to 2,300 (20,000m3 to 25,000m3).
The site was recently certified an approved supplier to the Olympics next year by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"To be here for 50 years, this site has had to improve year-on-year," said Adams at an event held at Sidcup site last month to celebrate the opening of CCE's fourth education centre there. "But improvement to us is not just about being more competitive year-on-year, it's about doing that in a sustainable way."
Over the past year the site has achieved zero waste to landfill for the first time. It has reduced its water ratio (the number of litres used per litre of product made) to 1.67. It has also worked with various organisations to improve the local environment.
Other targets set for the new line include a reduction of 610t of carbon dioxide by 2012, with 630t and then 700t set for subsequent years; water and energy reductions of 20% compared with existing canning lines; and a reduction in chilling requirements due to ambient filing (21°C).