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Belgian brewery Martens an international trendsetter

Tried-and-tested stretch blow mold and barrier coating technology from KHS chosen for producing PET beer bottles
The Martens brewery in Belgium, an extremely experienced filler of beer in PET bottles, has put a new line from KHS into operation. This consists of an InnoPET Blomax 8, an InnoPET Plasmax 12D for improving the gas barrier, an air conveyor, and the entire palletizing area. After being stored temporarily, the high quality barrier-coated PET bottles are then filled by a KHS filler, among others.

With an output of 2.5 million hectoliters of beer, Martens is one of the largest breweries in Belgium. Now in its eighth generation, the enterprise is currently managed by Fons and Jan Martens. The company's own house brands constitute approximately 15% of its output, with the remaining 85% attributable to private labels, filling under contract, and the sale of PET beer bottles produced in the brewery. Besides European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, England, Italy, and Sweden, the market outside Europe is also growing, with China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Israel showing increasing interest in Martens house brands and private labels.

The new KHS line, capable of processing 12,000 PET bottles per hour, is currently set up to produce three different sizes of PET beer bottles: the 0.5-liter, the 0.66-liter, and the 1-liter beer bottle. A fast and efficient changeover between the various bottle formats is guaranteed by the high level of flexibility and optimum coordination of the individual KHS systems. It would also be possible to expand production to cope with additional PET bottle shapes and sizes at any time. If required, the line can also be used to manufacture PET bottles for the filling of other beverages, such as wine or carbonated soft drinks. Jan Martens claims, "With this technology we are well prepared for the future in all respects. The setup couldn't be any more flexible."

The new line has been conceived in such a way that all of the coated PET beer bottles are fed by a KHS Innoline LTR air conveyor straight to the palletizing station. After palletizing they are then sent either to bottle storage or to the filling line. Or, if Martens' clients require it, the bottles are delivered to customers empty. On the German market, for example, Bitburger Brauerei uses PET bottles with Plasmax barrier coatings produced at the Martens plant.

PET bottles with Plasmax InnoPET barrier coatings provide sensitive beverages, such as beer, juice, and wine, and also liquid foods with the best possible protection against loss of quality caused by gas transfer with the surrounding atmosphere. Plasmax coating involves applying a wafer-thin layer of glass to the insides of PET bottles in a plasma process. This coating prevents oxygen penetrating the PET bottles and carbon dioxide escaping from them. This in turn guarantees a long shelf life and maintains top product quality. One special advantage of the Plasmax process is that the coated PET bottles are completely suitable for bottle-to-bottle recycling.

Jan Martens claims, "Among other things, our new KHS equipment is enabling us to further expand our business activities. The next step we're planning is to supply coated PET beer bottles to the French and Italian markets. Besides making the actual bottles, we're also happy to handle the filling and packaging of products for our customers both at home and abroad."

KHS machinery is also used at Martens Brewery for the latter task - namely the filling and packaging of beverages. This includes the computer-controlled, Innofill DVF pneumatic pressure filling system, which very gently fills bottles using long filling tubes and the volumetric filling method. Another piece of KHS technology in operation at Martens is the Innopack SP shrink packer that wraps products in film with the utmost precision and is also extremely adaptable when it comes to coping with very different formats.

Arne Andersen, Sales Manager for KHS Plasmax, says, "Martens is a brewery that is active both nationally and internationally. It enjoys great acclaim in the brewing sector and is famous for its top quality and high degree of cost awareness. Thanks to the good reputation Martens has, we see the decision to use Plasmax technology here as an excellent reference for the brewing industry worldwide."

Jan Martens adds, "With KHS we have an established partnership based on trust. Once again, practice has proved to us that the technological advantages promised by KHS really do bear fruit. We are very enthusiastic about the high quality of the PET bottles produced on the new KHS line. This year, we reckon on producing around 60 million PET bottles on our new line."