The new Sidel Matrix Combi production line is scheduled to be delivered to next month, after which it will be installed and commissioned. Along with increased capacity, the new line should bring a reduction in the amount of plastic required per bottle using Sidel’s StarLite base design, although the precise level of reduction achievable will not be known until the line is fully operational.
Growing water market
“We are confident that the Sidel Matrix Combi line will help us meet our objectives in the market and achieve operational excellence, as the criteria we followed to make our decision included capital cost, maintenance and running costs, technical capabilities and after-sales support,” said Georges Makhoul, general manager of Tannourine Water.
Currently Tannourine Water sells around 150 million litres of water per year to customers in Lebanon, as well as the wider Middle East and West Africa and Australia. With Lebanese bottled water consumption forecast to rise more than 3% per capita this year, the company was looking for both greater capacity and improved efficiency.
“Tannourine wanted a packaging line for water, but they were looking at doing it in the most ecologically efficient sense, in terms of the lowest energy consumption, the lowest plastic consumption, in order to make their bottle environmentally friendly and efficient in terms of production. The water market is very competitive these days, and the area where you can make your money is by reducing the cost of the production element,” said Clive Smith, zone vice president for the greater Middle East and Africa at Sidel.
One of the main methods used to reduce cost is to drive down the pressure required to blow the bottles, according to Smith. Thanks to advances such as improved base designs such as StarLite, the average pressure required to produce a bottle has fallen roughly by half, from 40 bar in the past to between 18 and 23 bar now.
He explained: “The StarLite base, or the right-weight base, is all about making a bottle that uses the least amount of plastic for the market that it sits in. From our perspective, we need to right-weight the bottle, while maintaining the top-load of the bottle – the bottles sit on pallets, they have weight on top of them, and they go on varying different logistics systems. In some places in the outback in Africa they need to withstand quite a heavy load, whereas on nice roads in Dubai they don’t need to withstand as much.
“So right-weighting means we do the design of the bottle as low in plastic as possible, while also complying with the market requirements. In some markets, consumers don’t like a very lightweight bottle – in others they like the lightweight bottle because it’s the most ecologically-friendly,” added Smith, saying most customers were able to achieve a 30% reduction in plastic content per bottle.
Sidel has made a number of sales in the region over the past year, including to Nestle, Hana Water and Nova Water in Saudi Arabia, and Al Ahlia in the UAE. Following Al Ahlia’s upgrade, the company said it had cut its bottling energy consumption by 20%, while Nova Water and Hana Water have boosted capacity to 134,000 and 72,000 bottles per hour, respectively.