Bottling Beverages – Packaging Machinery

From bottled water to sports drinks, juices, spirits and soda, there are a multitude of thirst quenching products on the shelves from which consumers can choose. But the way those products make their way into the bottles can vary depending on a number of different factors. Below are a few of the beverage choices available to the thirsty consumer, along with a brief explanation of some of the common machinery used to package the products.

BOTTLED WATER

Arguably, one of the simplest packaging lines to create is the bottled water line. This is in part because almost all bottled waters are packaged in a nearly identical manner. A typical bottle of water will be packaged in a 16.9 ounce clear plastic bottle, with a flat, screw on cap and a wrap label. Repetition leads to simplicity and efficiency, so that many bottled water packaging systems will look nearly identical. Bottle rinsers will be used to remove dust and debris from containers before the filling process in most applications. These packaging machines remove contaminants that may be left over from the manufacture of the bottle or that may accumulate during transport or storage of the bottle. Once rinsed, an overflow filler can almost always be found after the container cleaning equipment. The overflow filler allows for a level fill on each and every bottle, which can be important when dealing with clear bottles. Level fills create an appealing shelf appearance when the product reaches the customer. After the fill, either a spindle capper or chuck capper will normally be found, either of which will tighten the screw on cap consistently and reliably. Finally, a pressure sensitive labeling machine will wrap the label around the bottle, again allowing for consistent and reliable packaging. The loading and unloading of bottles may differ, with some using automated equipment and others using manual labor, and the water treatment used may vary depending on the source. But the rinse, fill, cap and label applications will almost always be similar to those noted above. Using this basic bottled water system as the norm, we can look at some other popular beverages and the differences that are required when it comes to packaging machinery.

CARBONATED DRINKS

Carbonated beverages may present the biggest deviation from what we term the norm for this article. The unique filling machine used for carbonation is known as a counter pressure filler. In general terms, the counter pressure filler will pressurize the container being filled and replace oxygen with CO2 to keep a beverage fizzy. Adding carbonation to a beverage will normally require a carbonator and a chiller, as low temperatures are also a necessity for carbonation. Other packaging machinery may vary as well, as carbonated beverages are more likely to use a variety of different bottle or can materials, come in various sizes and use different closures. While spinde and chuck cappers might still be used, as well as a pressure sensitive wrap labeler, carbonated beverages may use unique closures and labels that require a different type of machine. However, the biggest difference lies in the filling equipment and the counter pressure filler.

ALCOHOLS OR SPIRITS

Again, with alcohols and spirits the bottle size and shape may differ more than would be seen with bottled water. But surprisingly, much of the equipment may be the same. Overflow fillers can work with alcohol or distilled spirits, though gravity fillers may also be a popular choice. Capping machines may also be unique, in that bartop corkers are popular for corks, T-corks and other stopper type closures. Capsule spinners are also somewhat unique to alcohols and spirits, though they may be seen on olive oils, sauces and some other products. These extra machines will use heat or a spinner (for plastic or tin capsules, respectively) to provide tamper evidence and aesthetic value to the product. The biggest difference, however, will be the sensors used in the vicinity of the fill area on the packaging line. Many distilled spirits lines will use intrinsically safe sensors, floats, pumps and other components near the fill zone, to protect against the flammable properties that come with these products. Remote control panels will also be set up outside the fill area for safety purposes as well.

THICK BEVERAGES AND PARTICULATES

Some creamy drinks or drinks with higher viscosities (without carbonation) may require a different type of filling machine, moving away from overflow and gravity fillers. The same is true of beverages with pulp or other particulates, like those found in some juices. Both pump fillers and piston filling machines are manufactured to handle higher visocisty products and the principles allow for particulates to pass through in a consistent manner. Different pump types and piston sizes will be used depending on the particulate size and product fill size. Other than the filling machine, other equipment will stay pretty standard, but will also show more variation than the bottled water line simply due to a wider range of product and package characteristics.

Of course, there are many other beverage types on the market, with new products emerging nearly every day. Other features of beverage packaging lines may include sanitary equipment to keep the product safe, as well as hot fills when pasteurization is necessary. While almost all beverage lines will include some type of bottle rinser or other container cleaning machine, other lines will incorporate unique machinery, such as the capsule spinner for distilled spirits. Though some similarities and consistencies have been pointed out for specific beverages in this article, it is always a good idea to speak directly with the machine manufacturer to ensure that the best equipment is built for and given packaging project.

Patio Beverage Cooler

A patio beverage cooler is a must for the patio these days for a well integrated, entertaining experience. A patio, either roofed or not, is a great spot to relax with family and friends, as well as participate in some serious entertaining. A beverage cooler of some description is a great idea because it allows everyone to remain on the patio, rather than going in and out of the house to the refrigerator in the kitchen. The beverage cooler can be purchased in a range of shapes, sizes and materials as well as a variety of styles. They can be portable or fixed in place and rely on either ice or electricity to keep the beverages cool. A patio and warm weather make for a winning combination and accoutrements such as a beverage cooler, complete the picture.

A patio beverage cooler can be as large or small as you want and as simple as a bucket of ice. However, given the variety of creatively crafted coolers on the market today, you are sure to find something which not only matches your patio decore, but may turn out to be a conversation piece as well. Some beverage coolers are small and portable enough to sit on the table, so you won’t even need to leave your seat to fetch a refill. Others are free standing with artistically crafted legs of various heights and can be freely moved around the patio. They are designed to be fashionable as well as portable.

Other varieties include insulated box shaped containers which come in small through to large sizes, but essentially store ice and drinks at a location of your choice, such as between chairs as well as beside, or on the table. Some coolers which have come on the market recently, have wheels as well as a pull out handle to make transporting a filled cooler very easy. The enclosed box style coolers can also be moved from patio to car to picnic spot or boat, proving a very versatile option for keeping beverages cool, no matter the occasion.

For those who choose to go electric, and whose patio is roofed, there are a range of beverage refrigerators on the market. Some consumers in this situation like to go for a full size upright refrigerator which stays permanently in the one spot on the patio. This is the ultimate patio beverage cooler and has been known to be called a ‘beer fridge’. These are also available in small sizes and because of the smaller and lighter design, they can be easily moved if necessary. Electric patio beverage coolers also come in the small portable box design (as opposed to upright) and can be placed on the patio table. Like the ice filled, portable box coolers, the electric box coolers can be used in car and boat but with the added advantage of being able to run by battery or a standard electric outlet.

So like any consumer purchase, you should work out what you want to do with the beverage cooler and then choose the one which best suits your needs. With the small artistic coolers though, they are cheap enough to purchase in multiple quantities and strategically place them around the patio area for a decorative as well as functional effect.

Complexities of Beverage Storage

Most people enjoy more than one type of beverage. I am no different. There is an appropriate time to enjoy that glass of wine, cool can of beer or favorite soft drink. The problem is how can you store and cool all these different types of beverages and still have them handy for serving. What can you do when the proper storage temperatures of your choice beverages are different? How can you keep your wine stabilized and still maintain ready access to the other cooling beverages? What control options do you need to keep alcoholic beverages from the youngsters?

Historically, my home solution to this multiple beverage storage dilemma was the standard, full-sized refrigerator in the garage. Our fridge was a classic “Harvest Gold” in color. Harvest Gold appliances were popular years ago along with those that were that awful green cooler. The cans were easily added to the main shelves and the narrow door shelves. My bottles of wine were lain on there sides on one of the main shelves. I was careful to keep my white wines near the cooler bottom and my reds near the top. Of course, the youngsters when retrieving a soda just pushed the wine around to access their favorite beverage. Not to good for the wine.

In general, red wines should be stored close to 70 degrees F. and white wines between 50 and 60 degrees F. Canned beverages are best when they are stored ice cold, closer to 40 degrees F. To solve this problem, you should look for combination beverage coolers that have two distinct cooling zones with separate temperature controls. Keep your wine in one zone and your canned favorites in the other. Commonly, these types of beverage coolers use the nomenclature of “dual-zone wine and can beverage centers”.

The best way to store wine is on a shelf that is specially designed to conform to the shape of a typical wine bottle. Shelving can range from the simple chrome rack system to an exotic wine storage cradle that is trimmed in fancy wood and glides out on roller guides. Your wine will safely cool without unnecessary disturbance that could affect its taste and aging process.

My kids have grown up and now have families of their own. The issue of youngsters accessing the refrigerator for other than nonalcoholic drinks pretty much disappeared until the grandchildren starting to arrive. My concerns for securing the beverage refrigerator could not be solved with chains and padlocks around my aging “Harvest Gold” monument to the past. If you have these concerns, there now is a simple solution, a locking beverage center. Many of the new ones on the market have separate locks for each zone so you can structure your beverage storage to solve your security issues.

One other issue you need to consider, but is often over looked, is which way the door opens. The door on your beverage-storage-cooler must open correctly given the place you intend to install it. Look for a beverage storage cooler that has reversible door hinges so you can make it open the way you want it to. Additionally, while all of these products can be utilized in a freestanding application, under counter appliances must be front-vented, zero clearance coolers; otherwise, your rear-vented wine and can cooler will over heat and eventually give up the “ghost”.

I have since replaced “Harvest Gold” with a new French door design, dual-zone, locking, front-vented combination wine and can beverage cooler with a smoke glass door trimmed in stainless steel with recessed handles. Boy that was a mouth full! As I always say, buy the beverages you like, store them properly in a combination wine/can cooler, serve them at the proper temperature and enjoy them immensely.

Beverage Dispensers Serve You Well

As the name suggests, people install beverage dispensers for providing one or more beverages. There is a tap or a jet at the bottom of the tank from where you could fill your desired beverage. If you have a restaurant of your own, or wish to put one up, then a beverage dispenser will be very useful for you. Even if you love to call people over for get together and parties, it is beneficial to you. There are electric dispensers as well as non-electric ones for beverages. Mostly the people install electric dispensers in shops and refreshment joints.

They also dispense a variety of sodas. You will actually find them in all fast food hotels. It is so much simpler to get a glass of soda from the machine than getting into glass bottles and cans. The beverage dispenser is really a very good unit for party lovers. Some people love to indulge in inviting people over. Most of the times, it is very strenuous to get behind the bar and mix beverages for the guests. You can actually hang around with the guests if you invest in a beverage dispenser. It is your party and you must enjoy it too. You could ask the guests to help themselves, as it is very simple to get a glass of juice from a dispenser.

There is no wastage doing it this way, as guests only fill the much they need. Beverage dispensers can also have refrigeration. Most of the electric ones are refrigerated. For treats like shakes, slush and smoothie, they are perfect. Separate flavors could be loaded in the unit, giving a choice to the user to select whatever they need. Refrigeration is necessary for sodas also. No one would like to have soda at room temperature unless there is a health problem. Moreover, if you are bartending and you wish to make cocktails and mock tails, then a beverage dispenser could be your companion.

There are dispensers, designed in a way that the beverages stay at a particular temperature. This is possible due to the material that goes in their making. They are the insulated dispensers. The polyurethane or polycarbonate used to make the machine helps to keeps the drinks insulated. In addition, the materials are definitely anti-rust and anti-dent. Then, you can find non-electronic or non-insulated dispensers for beverages. Compared to the electric styles, they are cheaper. The advantage they have over the insulated ones is that you can carry them wherever you want. The machines are not too heavy.

Therefore, if you are planning a picnic or an outdoor Sunday feast, you could fill them up, and serve beverages from them. These come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. Some of them are really smart looking. You can also install such beverage dispensers in offices. This helps the employees to stretch and get a bit of refreshment. Little food stalls found in malls and railway stations always keep these dispensers for serving beverages for people-on-the-move. The other big advantage they offer is that they are environment friendly. You could use disposable cups or glasses to serve from a beverage dispenser. This is a step to save the planet from global warming.

Controlling Beverage Costs For Your Restaurant

Restaurants that serve just about any type of beverage can usually benefit from beverage costing, but restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages are the best candidates for beverage costing analysis for increased profitability.

Beverages are one of the easier ways to maximize profits for your restaurant due to the lower costs and far greater profit margins than with food.

How To Calculate Beverage Costs

Similar to calculating food costs, you need to designate a time frame where you will analyze the beverage costs for your restaurant. This can be one week, one month or several months. Typically, the longer time you allow for analysis, the better and more accurate the information you will gain from the report. Usually, non alcoholic beverages like soda, coffee, juice, water etc, are not included in your beverage costing calculations, instead these should be included in your food costing analysis.

After the reporting period, you’ll then need to total the beverage sales for each variety of beverage, such as beer, wine, mixed drinks, etc. You’ll then need to figure out your total beverage purchases from that same time period, which will be your cost of beverage sales. You’ll then need to determine your inventory adjustment. This means you compare the inventory at the end of your reporting period to the inventory at the very beginning of the reporting period. For instance, if the beginning inventory level for whiskey is $250, and at the end of the reporting period, the inventory level is valued at $170, then the inventory adjustment is the $80 difference.

You then apply this difference to the total purchases for the reporting period, thus giving you your total cost for beverage sales. Then you can figure out your beverage cost percentage by using the National Restaurant Association’s calculation method, which is “Beverage Cost = Cost of Beverage Sales/Beverage Sales”. Once you have this information, you can analyze your total sales and costs and make adjustments for increasing profit and efficiency. Typical figures for a restaurant’s beverage cost percentage are 30% – 32%. You can then compare the performance during the reporting period to previous performances and this will allow you to identify any problems or trends, thus allowing you to tightly control and decrease beverage costs.

Further Controlling Beverage Costs

There are some additional ways to control beverage costs, however, including restocking only as needed bottle by bottle, keeping tight control of inventory with proper theft controls, implementing a consistent method for your bartenders to complete sales and update tabs swiftly, utilizing accurate pouring methods and using consistent drink recipes.