Solarec, Belgium’s largest dairy company, is gearing up for the future by partnering with its new solution provider SIG. By replacing the previous production lines with four efficient, flexible SIG filling machines for aseptic cartons, Solarec achieves several goals at once. Opting for SIG, they can offer retail customers a wide range of even more sustainable packaging solutions – including tethered caps. In addition, Solarec can fully utilize the potential of SIG's state-of-the-art, flexible, and highly efficient filling technology to optimize its production.
“It was time to take a leap into the future. For us, SIG is the best partner for this, because we get excellent filling machine technology, sustainable packs, state-of-the-art digital solutions, and outstanding service from a single source. As a result, we not only pack our own products efficiently and sustainably, but also offer a broader portfolio to our retail customers,” says Louis Ska, chief executive officer at Solarec.
“The SIG team is excited to be Solarec's partner for the future. We see our new customer as a company that cares about its employees, its associated farmers, as well as its retail customers, consumers and the environment. We look forward to supporting Solarec in providing efficient, flexible, and sustainable packaging solutions for the benefit of all,” says José Matthijsse, president and general manager Europe at SIG.
Highly flexible filling lines for multiple formats and volumes
The first of four SIG Midi 12 Aseptic filling machines was installed in the third quarter of 2023. Each of these filling lines will enable Solarec to propose two packaging formats (SIG MidiBloc and SIG MidiFit) in two different volume sizes (500 and 1,000ml). Format and volume changeover are quick and easy, taking less than 30 minutes for a format change and less than 15 minutes for volume changes – for maximum flexibility. This unique flexibility will allow Solarec to react quickly to new market demands and differentiate. The machines have a high output of 12.000 packs/hour which perfectly handle Solarec annual production of 190 million liters of UHT milk.
Broad portfolio of even more sustainable packaging solutions
With the new SIG filling machines, Solarec can now offer its retail customers a broad portfolio of even more sustainable packaging materials. The innovative SIG Terra portfolio provides a range of industry-leading firsts and exclusives that offer both unrivaled on-shelf appeal and outstanding environmental credentials. The SIG Terra range offers various value-added packaging solutions, from aluminum-layer-free structures to ones with renewable, forest-based polymers and ones with recycled polymers*. With this step, the company achieves a lower carbon footprint: a Life Cycle Assessment conducted for Belgium in 2022 proves a significant CO2 reduction**.
From the beginning, Solarec will fill dairy products of its own brand “Véritable lait d'Ardenne” in SIG Terra MidiFit with polymers that are 100% linked to forest-based, renewable materials. Compared to a standard aseptic SIG carton pack, 52% CO2 can be saved. The company thus increases the share of used materials that comes from forest-based, renewable sources to 95%. To meet the regulatory requirements that will come into force in 2024, Solarec has also opted for a SIG SwiftCap Linked – one of SIG’s closure solutions with tethered cap.
High end digital services
Solarec and SIG agreed on a long-term service partnership to efficiently ramp up after commissioning and to keep productivity at a high level while implementing more connectivity for the filling lines. SIG’s end-to-end digital solutions utilize the power of data for ultimate productivity and efficiency on the filling line. SIG Connector allows for bi-directional communication between SIG filling lines and the MES system – for full control of the production with minimum manual operation for efficiency and human safety. SIG Asset Health Monitoring increases the filling line availability by eliminating unexpected breakdowns. SIG’s latest Line Monitoring System allows for real time monitoring of the performance of all lines in one insightful, user-friendly and modern line monitoring system.
* The polymers in SIG Terra packaging material support the transition to renewable polymers from the forest using a certified mass balance approach. For the production of the polymers, SIG is supporting the sourcing of tall oil as a forest-based raw material. This is a by-product of the paper industry, thus avoiding the use of raw materials from agricultural crops. The polymers are certified according to the ISCC PLUS certification scheme. The ultra-thin aluminum foil used in the packaging material protects the contents from light and oxygen and is certified against ASI (Aluminium Stewardship Initiative) standards. SIG’s tethered closures and the SIG Terra portfolio complement SIG’s roadmap to become a ‘net positive’ company by contributing more to society and the planet than the company takes out.