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Good maintenance: the best way to preserve the value of the investment

Aseptic lines depend on a great number of mechanical movements for a correct operation as well as a correct interaction with rather complex systems. If the goal is to maintain a high level of efficiency in the long run, it is not possible to avoid a correct management of the line. The main maintenance activities of an aseptic line are described hereunder:

  • Yearly Overhaul: normally planned well ahead and not performed during peak season production periods. Said activity has the goal of intervening upon wear parts that require rather long replacement times; gaskets, rotary manifold overhaul, analysis and clearance compensation.
  • Periodical inspections: to ensure efficiency of the line during peak season of maximum production and in order to avoid line stoppages due to breakage of components on the system.
  • Re-validation of the system after overhaul: it is possible to re-validate the performances of the aseptic line in the event of an overhaul upon substantial components.
  • Upgrading proposals on existing systems: due to continuous developments in the technology, it is often possible to implement new equipment or modified components that may significantly improve the performances of some parts of existing aseptic lines. Said upgrades are normally performed during programmed overhaul interventions.
  • Cost analysis and optimization of the interventions: a good relationship between customer and supplier must include well-organized aftersales interventions. Every line depending on the products and containers run and environmental conditions may have important variations in terms of level of wear of certain components. A good supplier, on the basis of an analysis of the interventions already performed and a preventive inspection of the line is able to evaluate the level of wear and propose maintenance investments aimed at maintaining the efficiency and thereby avoiding to intervene in places that do not require intervention.
  • Increase availability of the system: by increasing the average efficiency thanks to frequent interventions aimed at restoring initial conditions. An intelligent planning of the line maintenance preserves the system from worsening in terms of performances due to malfunctionings: this immediately signifies an overall increase in line availability.
  • Adaptation of the systems according to changing market demands (new sizes, new packaging, new products): a system designed to produce a certain product and a specific container can be modified to produce diverse products and to run different containers of different shapes and sizes as compared to those foreseen during the project negotiation stages. The adaptation may imply the supply of additional components and a correct recipe of the new combinations container/product, in order to optimize the treatment.

Service Culture

Regular maintenance is an investment to ensure high performance and maximum life cycle time of a plant
Fig.6.1. Regular maintenance is an investment to ensure high performance and maximum life cycle time of a plant

The general approach of the After Sales & Service activities has been based, in the past, mainly on repair. However, in practice the service has several applications normally categorised as follows:

  • Repair maintenance: the plant is run until a component breaks down. This requires fast response and no detailed planning.
  • Preventive Maintenance: the plant carries out maintenance based upon the expected lifespan of components. This requires an organised response, technical skills and careful planning.
  • Condition Based Maintenance: the plnt controls (with different methods) the actual status of the equipment and predicts the need for future intervention. It requires high technical skills, data analyses and complex planning.
  • Improvement Maintenance: the plant continuously verifies the status of components and finds ways of improving duration and reliability with innovative service.
In recent years the business has changed several times: Customers were carrying out the maintenance themselves buying only parts and some support; then it was completely outsourced to a supplier or to local service companies; then a mixed approach; and more recently, completely outsourced.
Outsourcing often has caused problems that are now widely recognised by customers: a short term saving has often brought long term regret!
Aseptic filling requires specialist knowledge and experience and therefore companies are increasingly relying on the know-how of suppliers. The business has also become more demanding and the continuous change of the ecosystem has often shown the limit of the organisation.
Due to the success of the TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) culture, companies have realised that poor maintenance can affect productivity, safety and product quality. Suppliers are now putting a lot of effort into cultivating the relationship with the customer to provide innovative services that were previously lacking. Customers and suppliers are increasing engaged in a joint effort to work on actual needs and fit them into newly developed activities.
Working with customers from a service point of view requires the quality of service to be analysed, not only in terms of simplistic KPIs (Key Performance Indicator such as delivery time, price, response time, etc.) but also to interact with and understand customers’ problems, frustrations and poor results.

This could be summarised simply as:

Service is about transferring additional values and functions to better satisfy customer needs. The transition we are seeing is change management that will bring more added value to customers.

All suppliers are passing from the After Sales Service that provided parts, components and skilled engineers to the Customer Support Service that also includes intangible assets like expertise, technical support and, in general, a trust-based relationship with customers.
This requires a change in the organisation and, most important, in the service culture in general. The interaction between supplier and customer is changing from a transactional one to one that is relationship-based. That explains the success of fixed-price contracts that cover all needed services during a pre-defined period. This approach partially transfers the risk of failure to the service provider but also focuses on relationship-based service working on the product, on the operations and on the response time in the event of break down. Suppliers can therefore optimise material management and resource management.

The next step will be a further change to a Customer Development Service: the main goal is to develop customer potential through innovative services. These will include activities that have, so far, been neglected or that divert the customer’s attention from its main focus which should be "produce at the right time, in the right quantity and with the right quality".
This field is still unexplored and requires a strong and trustful relationship with customers, the use of creativity at the highest level and the capacity to understand the real needs, to minimise frustration.

This is the challenge that Service is facing: to add value to customers with innovative solutions.

"Service is about transferring additional values and functions to better satisfy customer needs."


By monitoring the overall plant it is possible to define and plan corrective actions while avoiding breakdowns, keeping costs down and benefiting from continuous production
Fig.6.2. By monitoring the overall plant it is possible to define and plan corrective actions while avoiding breakdowns, keeping costs down and benefiting from continuous production

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a management policy for improving the productivity of plants making processes more reliable and less wasteful. Today, even the aseptic market is more and more competitive and the reduction of production losses is increasingly important for the success of a company.

Frequently, production losses are linked only with breakdowns or failures but they have a wider meaning. Indeed every cost that doesn’t add value to the final customer is a loss. For example the time lost changing formats or making adjustments, time lost in the start-up-phase, and limited production speeds are production losses. Even scraps of raw material, defects in the final product or simply improper procedures are significant too. Generally the losses can be measured on their whole by the ratio between the actual and the potential productivity of the plant. The index is known as OEE, overall equipment effectiveness.

TPM promises to locate the causes of production losses by monitoring the overall plant, increasing the availability of the production means and driving the company towards continuous improvement. The effectiveness of the plants monitoring is the key point. It allows plant managers to collect the information to initially evaluate the plant performance, define corrective actions and evaluate their success. Knowledge of equipments, processes, and experience from the field, are normally the drivers for a successfully designed monitoring system. In this way the experience of the user, and the skills of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), can be merged to offer tailored services and tools to satisfy the common need: increased plant performance.

Maintenance is one of the major areas in which the relationship between user and Original Equipment Manufacturer could be more profitable. Documentation (e.g. User and maintenance manual, spare parts list, troubleshooting lists …), training and corrective maintenance are the tools that have been available so far. Today maintenance is approached in a more scientific way and from different point of view: it usually distinguishes between preventive, condition-based and improvement maintenance. 
The curve of the failure risk of a component is shaped like a bathtub. The failure probability is generally high in the early failure phase, often called infant mortality, because of possible manufacturing defects. It decreases initially with ageing and reaches a low risk stable phase throughout the useful life. The end of its life is characterized by an increasing risk due to its ageing and wearing (wear out phase). The entirety of the technics focused on the estimation of the useful life is called Preventive Maintenance and allows the scheduling of replacements parts before facing the wearing out phase. Imagine having to implement these technics to the whole plant, the vast amount of data that have to be managed for effective maintenance scheduling is huge. Therefore Preventive Maintenance is often put in practice by computer-aided systems, known as Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) that help maintenance workers to do their job more easily thanks to better management of assets and information.

Preventive maintenance, however, as it has been presented, is often ineffective against accidents that could affect the risk of early failure. These risk causes can be fought by using Condition Based Maintenance that aims to continually monitor the plant and translate its real health state in the form of useful information. The information is usually provided as threshold limits above which the failure probability will be very high. It is usually effected by a Condition Based Maintenance System CBMS that performs periodical plant monitoring to detect the plant’s real running condition. 
Generally CBMS are highly powerful devices that will have an increasingly central role in the general management of plants. The monitoring, for example, could supply data to better estimate the useful life of components thereby improving preventive maintenance. The CBMS could even be an important source of information to identify previously unknown damaging phenomena that should be considered in the design phase of machines to increase their ruggedness under normal operating conditions.

The last is the most advanced approach to maintenance, known as proactive maintenance, where the increased knowledge of the system is used to make improvments and enhance performance. The monitoring system should be at the heart of the Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) programme and must be developed taking into account the maintenance needs of mechanical, process and automation systems. The effort and investment must be concentrated on the critical points that have been located using experience or by Failure Mode Effects and Critical Analysis (FMECA). Each point must be analyzed to establish the failure modes, and the causes, and choose the most suitable monitoring technology. This is why a comprehensive knowledge of the machines, - dynamic, cinematic and process - is so important. Even the monitoring procedure has to be chosen according to the criticality of the operation: continuous monitoring will be preferred if the components are very expensive or their replacement is critical for time or money, or if the component is inaccessible. This is normally carried out by expensive on-line devices and usually results very powerful, for example they allow remote diagnosis. Conversely, it is possible to perform periodical monitoring with portable instruments. This is much cheaper and ideal for less critical components but cannot be performed by remote control and does require trained, mobile personnel.

Nowadays a lot of technologies are available and they’re more and more affordable for the most varied applications:

  • Vibration analysis is suitable to control rotary mechanical devices or devices generally characterized by periodical strain;
  • Thermography helps to locate mechanical, process and electrical problems as well;
  • Motor testing detects anomalies hidden in electrical motors that are working inefficiently, and are potential cause of failures;
  • Ultra sound is very useful to locate leaks in gas pipe lines;
  • Augmented reality are devices that help provide remote assistance.
Diagnostic information can be even provided by simply re-arranging the signals from the machine’s original instruments.
The plant user and the equipment manufacturer have to be aware that poor investments can also degenerate into losses. Investments have to meet the real needs of the plant. 
For this reason users and manufacturers alike should be encouraged to pursue a durable partnership to enhance their competitiveness by working together.
Preventive Maintenance allows the scheduling of replacements parts before facing the wearing out phase
Fig.6.3. Preventive Maintenance allows the scheduling of replacements parts before facing the wearing out phase


  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

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The ultimate guide for the beverage industry decision-makers. Investigating the future market challenges, understanding the technology that can be used to anticipate them and turn them into a successful business.

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