A new Krones PET bottling line replaces two existing ones at the Ogeu Group’s site in Quézac, with a customised block solution provided for the cold-glue labelling specified by the client. Ogeu’s history began almost 200 years ago in the heart of the Pyrenees. In 1820, a spa resort centre was set up around the spring in the eponymous town of Ogeu-les-Bains, followed later on by a bottling plant. The group itself was then formed after the Second World War, and has been family-owned ever since. Today, CEO Jean-Hervé Chassaigne and his sister Pascale Lapassade are carrying on the family tradition in the third generation. Ogeu’s market strength is a result of water brands from different regions – a segment in which the group nowadays is the market leader in France. “In view of the fierce competition, it doesn’t really make sense to try and establish a national brand,” says Jean-Hervé Chassaigne.
Facilities all over the country
The family firm fills water from and in a hugely diverse array of the country’s landscapes: from the Atlantic coast of Brittany in the north through the heartlands of the country with the Ile de France, all the way to the French Alps, the lavender fields and Mediterranean beaches of Provence, and the mountain ranges of the Pyrenees in the south. With a series of new acquisitions and start-ups, Ogeu has expanded the number of its springs, and nowadays operates six facilities for bottling mineral water. With a payroll of 200, the Ogeu Group achieves a turnover of around 80 million euros, from overall sales of 350 million litres. For this purpose, it operates 18 lines, eight of them for PET containers. It was back in 1971 that the group had commissioned its first PET bottling line. Now it has for the first time opted for a complete line from Krones. This was installed at the facility in Quézac, which Ogeu had taken over from Nestlé only in January 2017. It is located in the heart of the French Cevennes National Park, only around 100 kilometres away from the Mediterranean coast. This oasis of natural splendor is often referred to as one of Europe’s last remaining “wild corners”: the scenery is characterized by high mountains, deep ravines, tenebrous grottoes, untamed rivers, isolated mountain villages and uninhabited plateaus.
New format, less weight
Already before the take-over, the plant was filling carbonated mineral water in 0.33 and 1.15-litre PET bottles on two lines. One of the first goals of the new proprietor family was now to replace the ailing small format by a 0.5-litre container and to fill both sizes on a single line. At the same time, the client wished to retain the design of the popular 1.15-litre customized bottle, and the paper labels as well – a rather unusual choice for PET containers. Ogeu also wanted to save weight at the preforms. So the group got in touch with Krones: the new line was supposed to be able to fill and package both formats cost-efficiently under the specified preconditions.
Initially, Ogeu was thinking of an ErgoBloc L, in which the labeler is located between the blow-molder and the filler: “Krones is the only vendor on the market that has mastered this technology,” comments Jean-Hervé Chassaigne. Because of the cold-glue labelling, however, Ogeu and Krones then opted for a Contiform Bloc with a directly coupled modularized labeler downstream of the filler.
“We nonetheless achieved our goal of running the wet end with just a single operator,” explains Jean-Hervé Chassaigne. Together with the people at Krones’ container design team, moreover, Ogeu took a long hard look at the 1.15-litre container, and at the base and the neck finish reduced the weight from 34 to 30 grams. The change-over to a short-neck closure produced additional savings.
Extremely short manufacturing and installation times
After just three short months of manufacturing time, installation of the new line had already begun in August 2017. “A mere three weeks later, the line was ready for commissioning,” explains Plant Manager Mickael Ferreira, and Jean-Hervé Chassaigne adds: “This was important, because we had a fixed deadline for market-launching the 0.5-litre bottle. I was very happy with Krones’ punctuality. This could be achieved only because we had chosen Krones as our single-source vendor. I was also very impressed by the training our staff received from Krones during the commissioning phase,” he says.
This exceptionally short erection time was likewise favored by the fact that the new line was being installed in an emptied storage area, while the older lines next to it were able to continue operating until the new line was up and running. So now the new Krones non-returnable-PET line is the sole bottling line at the facility in Quézac. It is rated at 27,000 containers per hour, referenced to the 1.15-litre container, and runs in three-shift operation, round the clock from Monday to Friday.
Carbonated water only
At this facility, Ogeu bottles only carbonated water, and thus – despite the focus on regional roots – ranks fifth for this market segment in France. You see: carbonated mineral water is more of a niche product there, with a market share of around 15 per cent; the French mostly consume still water. The mineral water bubbles up from a spring 200 metres away, with a natural carbon dioxide content of two grams per litre. Before being bottled, it is carbonated in the Carboflow to 5.5 grams per litre. As with the filling operation, the variants are manageable in terms of packaging as well. Both container types are each formed into six-bottle shrink-packs by a Variopac Pro FS. Afterwards, the 0.5-litre containers are then grouped together to form 24-bottle trays in a second Variopac Pro TFS. “One weak point in many lines is layer preparation upstream of the palletiser,” comments Jean-Hervé Chassaigne. “The elegant solution with the Robobox was another important criterion that tipped the scales in favour of Krones.”