In the heart of the Peloponnesus, some 250 km southwest of Athens, Greece, nestled among olive plantations and oleander trees, sits the Port of Patras industrial park. Here, on five injection lines, Belgian group Resilux manufactures some 600 million PET preforms every year for water and soft drinks. In 2006, Resilux Hellas acquired the first model in Sidel’s new range of SBO Compact™ equipment in response to a request from its customer, Loux, a leader on the Greek soft drink market. Since October, the SBO 4 Compact has been blow molding 1,600 bottles per hour/per mold in 0.5-liter and 0.33-liter sizes. The plant’s director, Athanasios Tsellos, offers high praise: “Product quality is perfect.”
Resilux Hellas specializes in the production and sale of preforms, mainly for the Greek market, where the company led by Thekla Ikariou enjoys a 70 percent market share. Resilux also exports products to Central Europe, North Africa and the Black Sea region. But Resilux operations have expanded to include blow molding as well. In 2003, its customer, Loux, ran out of space in its plant in Patras and outsourced bottle production to Resilux. So Resilux Hellas acquired a blow molding machine. That original machine produced 4,800 bph for 1.5-liter bottles and 5,000 bph for other sizes. As consumption rose, Resilux kept pace by adding a second line. This time it turned to Sidel, “with whom the Group was familiar”. Resilux chose the SBO 4 Compact machine, a perfect match thanks to its “output, small footprint, and flexibility, which enable us to test bottle innovations before launching mass production”, explains Tsellos who also likes the “more modest price of the linear machine compared to rotary machines”. After several months of sometimes difficult work required before startup of the prototype, the SBO 4 Compact went into production. It is now operating round the clock, five days a week and in the summer six days a week producing mainly 0.33-liter bottles (70 percent of sales at Loux) and 0.5-liter bottles (20 percent of sales). This summer, Tsellos expects to achieve 95 percent end of line efficiency. When asked about the advantages of the Compact™, he cites “the simple design, quick format changeovers that take less than half an hour to switch from one format to another, and ease of maintenance”. As for bottle quality, numerous tests and monitoring in the lab every day (to measure dimensions, material, thickness, perpendicularity, and preform color) are proof positive.
An eye on another Compact™
Resilux has definitely had a positive experience in blow molding. The company is already working with another soft drink customer, and Sidel is working on drawings for 0.33-liter, 0.5-liter, and 1.5-liter bottles. And Loux, which sells bottles to small grocery stores and large supermarkets in four flavors (cola, orange, lemon and cherry), is posting 15 percent annual growth. That’s why Resilux, which appreciates “Sidel’s philosophy of building machines that last”, plans to buy another blow molding machine, from Sidel of course. Pleased with the performance of its SBO 4, Resilux already has its eye on another Compact™ machine.