GEA Aseptic Filling Pilot Plant
The GEA Test Center for Aseptic Processing & Filling located at Ahaus, Germany, replicates a real end-to-end production plant for sensitive beverages, merging GEA commercial technologies in one connected scaled process. Designed with a modular approach, the Test Center includes a large variety of processes from raw ingredients mixing and initial product preparation along with thermal product treatment up to aseptic filling in containers.
The filling module allows very flexible performances, handling a large variety of bottle shapes and sizes (from 100 ml to 3 l) and testing different container materials – including PET with additives or barrier to oxygen and light, as well as HDPE containers amongst the others. The system features a sustainable dry sterilization process that does not require any water consumption during production; using H2O2 in vapor form for both bottle and closure treatment, it reaches up to 6 log reduction.
How the filling module works
On entering the system, the bottle is first warmed up to avoid any sterilant condensation during the container treatment in order to control the final residue in the packaged bottle. In the sterile area of the filling module, the bottle is subjected to a consistent and reliable sterilization process followed by a purging with sterile air before being transferred to the aseptic filling phase.
A very flexible and versatile filling station aseptically handles a variety of different liquid products, from still to carbonated sensitive beverages either high acid or low acid, being clear or with fibers and particles and offering fully automated changeover when switching from contact filling to non-contact filling to ensure the highest food safety performances.
Depending on the target product to be filled, it is possible to take advantage of a dedicated filling head for the aseptic dosing of large particles, hard particles or even very fragile particles. The Fillstar PX aseptic piston doser, which is part of the unique Dual Fill technology from GEA, minimizes particles destruction rate and maximizes the filling accuracy of particles, facilitating the creation of innovative and premium beverages.
The container sealing system features a sustainable dry process to sterilize a variety of different caps sizes, shapes and materials before being applied by an aseptic capping station which hermetically seals the bottle within the aseptic module and completes the aseptic packaging process.
The GEA Aseptic Filling Pilot Plant is a unique system which allows customers to:
- improve and refine the formulation of new products to be launched on the market;
- verify the effectiveness of new or existing treatments and processes, optimizing them for full-scale production;
- identifying further research objectives;
- support strategic investment decisions;
- reducing the time to market.
In all stages of the developing process, the GEA testing team can support beverage manufacturers in implementing sustainable projects and cost-effective solutions thanks to the extensive expertise and insight in the beverage and liquid dairy industry at the GEA testing center.
At the final stage of the pilot testing session, the customer can evaluate the final bottled product first hand as if it were produced in a full-scale commercial facility, by experiencing the required technology modules and related process parameter to secure the optimized product formulation.
The GEA Aseptic Filling Pilot Plant is also available to be installed at customer’s as stand-alone module and be connected with the required processing modules, so the customer can implement at their premises or R&D facilities a robust internal product development process without impacting on their daily production to perform small scale production batches required to test new products to be launched on the market.
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