Premix unit for soft drink production

The growing confidence of the market gained thanks to the process plants developed by Drink Systems, already a well-established Water Systems brand, has allowed a continuous development of blending technology for producing carbonated soft drink (CSD) such an extent that the company have had the possibility to supply a plant for 25,000 L/h of product to an important producer of CSDs (based on juice fruit with pulp), probably the most famous one of the sector.

The development of this kind of device is, on the one hand, the positive result of the technological growing process planned by the firm management since the company was founded and, on the other hand, it lays the foundations for a further business growth of the firm itself. The unit represents the top of technology which is now available on the market and allows to reach the highest performances in terms of dosing accuracy (0.03°Brix and 0.05 v/v of CO2) and of residual oxygen in water after the double stage of deaeration (lower than 0.5 ppm), which are the same performances guaranteed by the biggest bottling lines manufacturers.

The customer specific need to integrate the equipment in an existing line has made the preventive study where to place the component necessary by means of CAD instruments for 3D drawings, which allowed to optimize the system compactness and at the same time to guarantee an easy access to components for maintenance operations.

The whole system is developed in order to guarantee the highest qualitative standards and a qualitatively constant production, also in conditions of considerable format change; it is completely preassembled on stainless steel circular-section skid for an easy and effective cleaning and includes the following subsystems:

– inlet water deaeration: a double stage deaerating system equipped with vacuum pump removes incondensable gases; the vacuum pump is conceived to maintain the dissolved oxygen level below 0.5 ppm values;

– carbon dioxide dosing: a modulating valve and a mass flow rate transmitter inject carbon dioxide in a quantity that is proportional to the water quantity loaded into the deaeration tank; the water flow rate is measured by means of a magnetic flow rate transmitter. A special gas injecting and mixing system – specifically developed by Water Systems – performs a careful mixing with the water to be treated and, hence, the best results in terms of product perlage; the carbon dioxide concentration is maintained constant in the product receiving tank by a supervising software, which checks possible fluctuations in the temperature of the supplying water and in product buffer tank; the effective dissolved carbon dioxide concentration in the product is checked using a carbometric unit, installed on the filling machine supplying line;

– syrup dosing and mixing: at first syrup is stored in a small buffer tank, whose atmosphere is modified and enriched with carbon dioxide in order to avoid oxidation. Syrup injection is made by a sanitary design modulating valve and a mass flow rate transmitter in a quantity which is proportional to the water amount fed from the deaeration tank. Furthermore, the use of a mass flow rate transmitter allows to check constantly the effective density of the inlet syrup and therefore to compensate immediately for the dosing and to stabilize the sugar concentration in the end product within the established bounds. Analogously, when producing diet beverages, a specific refractometer allows the constant checking of the syrup injection, also in case of flow rate fluctuations from the syrup room; a second refractometer, installed on the filler supplying line, allows continuous product monitoring and, if necessary, its adjustment. Similarly the instruments minimize the waste of both syrup and product during the transitory phases of production, such as start and stop, thence allowing water-syrup dosing ratio up to 1:1 in this phase;

– product cooling: the cooling section of this plant consists of tube heat exchangers instead of plates ones because of the considerable size of the pulps present in the product;

– mixing systems: for the same reason, pulp presence in concentrate and thence in end product, the tanks of syrup and end product have been equipped with agitators designed and developed by Alfa Laval in order to guarantee product homogeneity also in case of filling line stop;

– pumping systems: concentrate and product transferring is carried out with lobes volumetric pumps which are conceived to avoid the fruit cells being damaged;

– product receiving tank and filling machine supplying system: the product tank (designed to work at a pressure of up to 7.0 bar) is equipped with an agitator designed to avoid pulp precipitation in case of filling line stop. Furthermore, the output line is provided with a cluster of mix proof valves in order to allow the supplying of two different fillers and to carry out cleaning operations on a part of the equipment while the other part continues the production.

The Blendsystem M software loaded on the mass-control premix unit is designed to guarantee the best results in terms of dosing, offering at the same time an easy control by a friendly user interface. This software enables, on the one hand, to set the main production parameters and visualize their state graphically and, on the other, to set the statistic parameters (ca, cp e cpk) linked to that kind of production.

The equipment is fitted with field buses (Ethernet) for a complete integration in the bottling line and control of production, cleaning, and sanitizing processes.


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