Your new Aseptic Line

Aseptic technology today is the best production system for the beverage industry. Having said this, the investment required to install an aseptic technology system is higher, in comparison to other systems with minor capability. However, the total production and distribution costs (per single unit produced) are notably lower as compared to hotfill and ultraclean lines.

An Aseptic line permits significant advantages as compared to other competitive solutions, and do not limit the extent of a company’s growth potential. This is particularly true if we also consider the possibility that the company may extend its range of products and have the confidence that they will attain maximum quality that only an aseptic system can offer.
Aseptic technology system
Fig.5.1. Aseptic technology system

Preliminary Checklist

Is Aseptic technology suitable for your needs?



How much is the potential market worth?

Up to 20 million bottles/year
The investment necessary to purchase an aseptic system with low outputs significantly increases the effect of amortization costs upon the price per single unit. However, the value of the product plays an important role (and therefore the quality level requested by the market), as it could justify the investment even in view of far lower output productions

Over 20 million bottles/year
Aseptic lines are designed to run 24 hours a day and ensure a high level of efficiency. This matches producer requirements perfectly, as high volumes are attained. High outputs have a minor influence on amortization costs of the system and allow producers to spread the effects of the costs of the auxiliary units (process fluids systems).



How much is it worth to preserve the quality of your product?

Average quality Products 
Firms specialized in the production of lower price beverages whose quality aspect is of secondary importance may not call for the benefits offered by aseptic technology in terms of organoleptic characteristics of the product.

Standard quality Products 
Aseptic technology permits a high level of repeatability and minimizes the use of additives. For this reason it is recommendable to use this technology for all productions, especially for co-packers, in order to avoid complaints and possible recall problems.

High quality products 
Aseptic technology permits a better preservation of the peculiar characteristics of the best raw materials available. This permits the production of exceptional products, based on rare and unique ingredients that permit the conquering of increasingly demanding and expanding markets.



What are your requirements in terms of container shape?

Standard design 
The basic requirements tied to a standard design may be realized starting from diverse technologies, including technologies with minor purchasing costs such as hot fill. However, have you ever thought of how a custom- made container could further benefit your business? Not considering that Hot fill bottles have in average a higher weight than aseptic bottles, that means higher cost for PET.

Custom-Made design 
If your product deserves a container that makes the product recognizable and unique, aseptic technology is exactly what you are looking for. The filling operation at room temperature makes said technology compatible with containers of various shapes and sizes; moreover, it is possible to use very lightweight and significantly cheaper bottles.

Custom-made and continuously evolving design 
If your design in addition to being unique changes continuously, then aseptic technology is your best bet. Other parameters also have to be taken into account carefully: in particular, the movement of the bottles and the size changeover modalities of the lines you are about to evaluate in order to verify possible size restrictions. Timing and costs tied to the implementation of new container sizes on the line also need to be evaluated.



How much does your product have to cost?

Do you predict an increase in production in the next 5 years? 
Aseptic technology permits an increase in margins upon increase in production. The costs of the container, lighter than those used on other systems, as well as logistics costs are definitely lower

Centralising production

How much is the production potential of every single production facility worth for you? 
Aseptic filling lines permit the natural extension of the product’s shelf life, subsequently it is possible to concentrate the production, for a large number of users (also on a continental scale) within one sole production facility. This allows producers to attain large scale savings with suppliers thereby significantly reducing the production costs. Thanks to the flexibility and the productivity of aseptic lines, the beverage industries may extend the range of products run in each production facility thereby increasing the strategic potential demanded by the modern distribution network.

Evaluation of the investment

Return of investment
Fig.5.2. Return of investment

Prior to planning the purchasing of an aseptic line, it is fundamental to first consider the types of products to be filled, the potential markets in which the products are to be launched, and the company structure, as said basic data will help to outline the investment. Aseptic technology presently entails higher initial investment costs as compared to other technology, whereas the overall management costs are far lower. This is why an initial precise planning of the investments becomes very important for projects that consider the installation of aseptic lines.

The basis of the outflows is the so-called life cycle cost of the system. In other words, the initial purchase costs of a bottling line are viewed on the basis of its entire life cycle and are compared with the operational revenues gained from that system during its life cycle. These costs also include updatings implemented by internal employees after the initial purchase and operational costs tied to the updating, maintenance and operation of the line.

When evaluating an investment to purchase an aseptic line, the analysis of the life cycle cost must take into account a higher purchase price for the system as compared to alternative technology (e.g. hot fill), a lower cost in terms of containers and caps due to the possibility of using lightweight PET containers, and a cost per single sterilization cycle determined by the cost of the chemical agents and power used. Other factors that impact the calculation include maintenance costs, contamination control, filter systems and laboratory activity costs. On the other hand, the evaluation is to be extended to the cost for distribution activities which are performed at room temperature and not in cold chain; moreover, it is necessary to determine as to how far the possibility of having appealing containers with customized shapes and dimensions affects the possibility of obtaining major revenues, due to a more competitive ranking of the product upon the market.

Three considerations are normally made that define the feasibility and the features of the investment. All three depart from an analysis of the estimated financial flows during the life cycle of the system; all three consider the time factor as the essential element for the analysis.

  • Payback Analysis
  • Net Present Value (NPV)
  • Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

  • The payback analysis simply calculates the payback period; the number of years necessary for the cash inflows to recover the original investment outlay. The payback analysis indicates the time required to retrieve the initial capital expenditures made by the company. An investment is far more preferable if the refund period is much shorter. There is no pre-defined timing (number of years) by which an investment can be judged to be good. The payback time must be judged essentially on the basis of the company’s targets and in comparison with other investments. This method is somewhat limited, as it does not take into account the cash flow trend after the recoup of the initial costs.

  • With the Net Present Value (NPV), the net financial flows are deducted period by period, using a discount rate. The statistical sum of the discounted inflows and outflows represent the Net Actual Value of the project. The factor used in the analysis of the Net Present Value is the chosen reference interest rate, (typically the capital opportunity cost), as it represents an alternative that is forsaken in order to undertake the specific investment project. With the capital cost for the company; typically the average considered between its own capital and third party capital. The NPV is a value, stated in the currency in which the financial flows are expressed, that indicates the value of the investment to date. The NPV is based on the principle that an initiative deserves to be taken into account only if the benefits that may derive from it are superior to the resources used. According to said criteria the preferred investment project is the one that has the highest NPV.

  • The Internal Rate of Return (IRR), is aimed at finding the discount rate which statistically resets to zero the inflows and the outflows associated to the project. This rate is then compared with the typical rate requested by the company for similar projects. An investment project is performable, according to said criteria, when the IRR exceeds the capital opportunity cost (or other rate used as reference, typically the capital cost considered). The internal earnings rate cannot be calculated directly but it is the outcome of attempted assumptions in order to find the rate that gets as close as possible to the desired result. The IRR is basically the rate that gives NPV equal to zero. Among the disadvantages of the IRR method, is the complexity of the calculation and the fact that on its own it is not always possible to provide a correct measure of profitability.
In brief, the investment criteria are many. Typically it is beneficial to perform comparable project evaluations using these three measurements together to reach an appropriate evaluation.

Choose according to your own needs: the value curve

In order to choose among the diverse aseptic technology available, the one that is more suitable to a particular project, it is important to perform a series of systematical evaluations upon the different technological, organizational, management features of the various options.

In order to facilitate the analysis it is a good idea to assess each of these characteristics on the basis of the importance that they cover for the actual project. The assessment criteria must be focused as far as possible, on the notion of the effective value created by each characteristic. The graph of all the evaluations is the so-called value curve, which allows one to evaluate the average values of the market and to visualize the strengths and weaknesses of every possible alternative technology.


How to measure the performances of an aseptic line

  • Production speed, expressed in bottles per hour, of a certain size, to the palletizer, net of overall efficiency of the various machines that make up the line (eg. 30.000 bottles/ hour x 85% overall efficiency = 25.500 bottles/hour).
  • Container sterilization capability expressed in terms of log reduction on colony forming units with respect to a reference microorganism and a specific testing protocol. We speak of sterilization performances of 6 log reduction when for 1.000.000 (1x106 ) colony forming units present in a specific location of the container (spot point) prior to treatment, max 1 (1x100 ) colony forming unit is detected in the container upon completion of the sterilization treatment protocol.
  • Maximum defective rate of the containers. This indicates the maximum number of acceptable defective containers on the production line. For example, GEA Procomac declares a maximum defectiveness of 1 bottle out of 100.000 for high acid production performed with a clear beverage filling test and 3 bottles out of 30.000 for low acid production performed with a clear broth media filling test.
  • Maximum quantity of residual sterilizing solution in the bottle. Said performance reflects the capability of the system to efficiently eliminate the sterilizing solution upon completion of the sterilization cycle on containers and caps. The United States FDA requires a residual sterilizing solution inside the container of total peroxides under 0.5 ppm (parts per million). Within the wet technology PAA said performance is obtained by rinsing with sterile water, whereas with other technology such as dry H2O2 technology, residual H2O2 can be removed by blowing hot air inside the bottle.
  • Hours of continuous aseptic production without intermediate CIP/SIP cycles. Said performances are strictly connected to the repeatability of the process, considered as capability of the system of not accumulating possible contamination during production, and this reflects directly upon line efficiency. GEA Procomac guarantees 165 hours of continuous production for high acid and low acid production lines. Other manufacturers, due to intrinsic restrictions of the technology used, perform intermediate CIP/SIP cycles (duration ranging from 5-15 minutes) every 4-8 hours of production.


  1. Introduction
  2. 1.Markets, opportunities, a comparison of the technologies
    1. 1.1. “High acid” and “Low acid” beverages
    2. 1.2. Juices and Nectars
    3. 1.3. Sport Drinks
    4. 1.4. Tea and infusions
    5. 1.5. Functional Beverages
    6. 1.6. Milk-based products
    7. 1.6.1. UHT Milk
    8. 1.7. Historical perspective: Evolution of the technology from the Roman era to our day and age
    9. 1.7.1. "Aseptic" technology in the Roman era
    10. 1.7.2. The Roman "filling, capping and storage process"
    11. 1.8. Technologies to meet market demand
    12. 1.8.1. Use of preservatives
    13. 1.8.2. Hot fill
    14. 1.8.3. Ultra-clean filling
    15. 1.8.4. Aseptic Filling
    16. 1.8.5. Aseptic Blow Filling
    17. 1.9. Advantages and disadvantages of containers for beverages
    18. 1.9.1. Glass
    19. 1.9.2. Polylaminate carton
    20. 1.9.3. PET
    21. 1.9.4. HDPE
    22. 1.9.5. Cans
    23. 1.9.6. Pouches
    24. 1.10. Caps, closures, fitments
  3. 2.The right direction of sustainability
    1. 2.1. Material
    2. 2.2. Energy
    3. 2.3. Space
    4. 2.4. Time
  4. 3.Thermal treatment for product
    1. 3.1. Heat Exchangers for Liquid Products
    2. 3.1.1. Plate Heat Exchanger
    3. 3.1.2. Single Tube Heat Exchanger
    4. 3.1.3. Multi Tube Heat Exchanger
    5. 3.1.4. Triple Tube Heat Exchanger
    6. 3.1.5. Spiral Tube Heat Exchangers
    7. 3.1.6. Scraped Surface Heat Exchangers
    8. 3.2. Indirect and Direct Heating
    9. 3.3. Direct Heating UHT and ESL Designs
    10. 3.3.1. Direct Injection
    11. 3.3.2. Direct infusion
    12. 3.4. The best heat exchanger for your application
    13. 3.4.1. Heat Damage to food
    14. 3.4.2. System Selection Criteria
    15. 3.5. Conclusions
  5. 4.Understanding aseptic filling technology
    1. 4.1. Aseptic technology: an integrated system, not a series of connected machines.
    2. 4.2. Structure of an aseptic filling line
    3. 4.2.1. Sterilization
    4. 4.2.2. Container sterilization
    5. 4.3. Treatment of containers
    6. 4.3.1. Peroxyacetic Acid (POAA or PAA)
    7. 4.3.2. H2O2
    8. 4.4. PAA WET container sterilization
    9. 4.5. PAA vapour container sterilization
    10. 4.6. H2O2 CHP container sterilization
    11. 4.7. H2O2 VHP container sterilization
    12. 4.8. Preform sterilization technology
    13. 4.8.1. CHP sterilization
    14. 4.8.2. VHP sterilization
    15. 4.9. Cap sterilization technology
    16. 4.9.1. PAA spray sterilization
    17. 4.10. PAA immersion sterilization
    18. 4.10.1. CHP sterilization
    19. 4.10.2. VHP sterilization
    20. 4.10.3. Pre-sterilized caps handling
    21. 4.11. Energy-based sterilization without chemicals
    22. 4.11.1. UV light sterilization
    23. 4.11.2. Pulsed light sterilization
    24. 4.11.3. Ionizing radiation Sterilization
    25. 4.11.4. Electron beam sterilization
    26. 4.12. Aseptic Filling
    27. 4.12.1. Volumetric electronic filling
    28. 4.12.2. Weight filling
    29. 4.12.3. Other filling technologies
    30. 4.13. Capping
    31. 4.14. Bottle handling
    32. 4.15. Ancillary process equipment
    33. 4.15.1. Sterilizing solution production
    34. 4.16. Sterile water production
    35. 4.16.1. Utilities and fluids handling
    36. 4.16.2. CIP, SIP, COP, SOP
    37. 4.16.3. Integration of ancillary process units
    38. 4.16.4. Piping
    39. 4.16.5. Simplification of line handling
    40. 4.16.6. Radiation-based fluids sterilization
    41. 4.17. Line automation
  6. 5.Your new Aseptic Line
    1. 5.1. Preliminary Checklist
    2. 5.1.1. Volumes
    3. 5.1.2. Products
    4. 5.1.3. Design
    5. 5.1.4. Costs
    6. 5.1.5. Centralising production
    7. 5.2. Evaluation of the investment
    8. 5.2.1. Choose according to your own needs: the value curve
    9. 5.2.2. How to measure the performances of an aseptic line
  7. 6.Good maintenance: the best way to preserve the value of the investment
    1. 6.1. Service Culture
    2. 6.2. TPM
  8. 7.Improved safety: for the product, for operators and for the environment
    1. 7.1. Microbic Contamination
    2. 7.2. Contamination Control
    3. 7.3. Microbiological Isolator
    4. 7.4. Air Filtration
    5. 7.5. Differential Pressures
  9. 8.Aseptic filling and FDA
    1. 8.1. FDA Validation
    2. 8.2. Electronic Validation
    3. 8.2.1. GAMP 4 Module
    4. 8.3. Paper Recording vs Electronic Recording
  10. 9.Sell Aseptic to sell "more" and sell "better"
  11. 10.The Future of Aseptic
  12. Conclusions
  13. Addendum
    1. 1. Thermal treatment for products
Reference: Schlünder,E.U.:Dissertation Techn.Hochschule Darmstadt D 17, 1962.