ABC Group is a major food and beverage company in Indonesia. The company has been in business since the 1970s and, in 2011 it decided to diversify to produce drinking milk, flavored milks and drinkable yoghurt to meet a growing Indonesian market. In such a geographically expansive nation as Indonesia this was never going to be easy. What’s more, ABC Group decided to provide a product from farm to consumer from a single source. It was a challenge that GEA’s technology helped to master.
Warren Choo, CEO, ABC Group explained that he had wanted to enter the dairy business because of the market potential in Indonesia. “The first step was to find the land for the dairy farm and the milking parlor,” he said. The site chosen is in Bandung West Java. This achieved Mr. Choo found a green field site close by at Garut, on which to build his milk processing factory. Construction began in 2015.
But Mr. Choo knew that to make a real impact on the market in Indonesia he would need to do things differently. Indonesia is a nation of islands, more than 17,000 of them: the world’s largest archipelago, over 5,000 km from east to west. Moving goods to some of the more remote areas can take months by which time the shelf life of any normal fresh product would be compromised. However, Mr. Choo wanted to find a way to bring fresh, nutritious, great-tasting products to the country’s population.
“We chose to use aseptic technology in PET bottles as the standard Tetra cartons can easily become damaged during transport and doesn’t offer the same flexibility as PET,” said Mr. Choo. “We wanted our product not only to taste great but look good as well. We have had experience before with PET and the new technologies available made us decide to go that route.”
The technology in question is aseptic filling in which the PET bottle is sterilized, filled and capped in an aseptic environment. This, combined with utilizing the latest developments in light barrier materials, allows ABC Group to create fresh dairy milks and drinkable yoghurt that have a shelf life of up to nine months giving ample time for the distribution process, even in a country such as Indonesia, to take place.
In choosing his technology suppliers, Mr. Choo travelled to China for inspiration. “I went to China to research all the lines in several factories to see how the development of aseptic filling is going especially in the dairy segment. We also had our dairy consultants from Japan help us to make the decision.” After fully researching the market, ABC Group chose GEA to supply the aseptic filling technology with all its upstream equipment such as homogenizer, deaerator, UHT, aseptic tanks and CIP stations. “Thanks to the positive experience with the aseptic filling technology we were confident that GEA provided the best overall turnkey solution for us from top to bottom. We also included our milking parlour at the farm in the scope of supply.”
To help manage the filling process, ABC Group commissioned the service of Uniplastido Interbuana (Uniplast). Uniplast was a pioneer of aseptic filling in Indonesia and has many years of experience working with the technology. “We chose a synchro aseptic system featuring a GEA ECOSpin2 sterilizing technology fitted with a Fillstar FX-C filler,” said Edwin Gunadi, CEO of Uniplast. “We are very familiar with GEA and have had a good working relationship with the company for many years.”
Developing the light barrier
Uniplast then worked with its suppliers to develop a new light barrier for the PET bottles that would protect the fresh product adequately. The process took many months, but the outcome has provided a mono-layer light barrier that has same functionality as common carton packaging. “It will provide protection for up to nine months, preserving the colour, taste and nutritional characteristics of the product without the need of a cold chain,” said Mr. Gunadi. The PET bottle is lighter and easier to handle than alternatives and provides the opportunity to design bottles in a variety of shapes in line with ABC Group’s marketing requirements.
“We are proud to be the pioneer of this technology in Indonesia that allows us to fill milk successfully with zero contamination to provide maximum shelf life with the highest safety standards,” he said. “I look forward to working with GEA on many similar projects in the future.”
GEA’s integrated PAA sterilizing system: the safest solution for sensitive products
A key feature of the GEA ECOSpin2 is its robust and reliable bottle and cap sterilization with the lowest chemical residual. The system uses only 1 PAA (Peracetic acid) sterilizing solution to treat the bottle both inside and out simultaneously as well as the cap, without the need for wetting agents. The PAA solution is fully recovered and reused in a controlled loop. The PAA temperature does not exceed 65°C so there is no risk of PET shrinkage when using lightweight containers. Caps are sterilized through immersion in a PAA solution to reduce and potential mechanical stress and achieve a proper bottle seal. The system at ABC Group fills up to 40,000 0.5 liter bottles/hour, however, GEA ECOSpin has a maximum capability of 72,000 bottles/hour.
Dual-speed volumetric filling prevents foaming
The Fillstar FX-C from GEA is a proven, high-speed, volumetric filler specially designed for filling still products, such as milk, with and without pulps, fibers and pieces with dimensions up to 6x6x6 mm. This GEA aseptic system can extend filling to dose accurately particles with dimensions of up to 10x10x10 mm. The filler has an aseptic product tank, located on the top of the carosel, that feeds the product through a linear path to reduce wastage during product changeover. Its dual-speed design – with a slow speed mode used at beginning and end of filling cycle – prevents foaming even when filling critical products. There is no contact between the filling nozzle and the bottle neck to avoid any cross contamination.
The signs are pointing to further expansion
The whole project for ABC Group was five years in the making from concept to first production in 2017. The result, however, is a unique plant that safely supplies highquality milk and drinkable yoghurt to the 250 million population of Indonesia with the confidence that the product will arrive in perfect condition, nationwide.
So, is Mr. Choo planning further expansion? “Yes, definitely,” he said. “We will have this plant up to full capacity within two years and we have field space on this site to build another two lines if necessary. We may also expand to another location in the future.”