Packaging World - September 2009 - (Page 38)
BAG-IN-BOX FILLING Wine-box packaging line speeds sake filling Centuries-old Japanese sake company Gekkeikan Sake invests in modern packaging technology to handle growing demand for its restaurant-bound bag-in-box product. O 38 Anne Marie Mohan, Senior Editor O ON THE WEB RELATED ARTICLES For more, see packworld.com/wine VIDEO To view the machinery described in this story, see packworld.com/video-27996 One of only 41 members of a prestigious and selective association of family-owned bicentenary companies known as the Henokiens, Gekkeikan Sake Company, Ltd., Fushimi, Japan, has been brewing its country’s national alcoholic drink since 1637. In the 370-plus years since, the company has consistently embraced new technology to improve the quality and presentation of its sake. In Folsom, CA, the company’s U.S. facility continues this trend. Situated on nine acres, Gekkeikan Sake (USA), Inc. is uniquely housed in several traditional Japanese-style buildings, surrounded by gardens and a Koi fish-stocked pond. The plant supplies product for the U.S., Canada, South America, and Europe. In May, the facility began operation of its third packaging line, a National Instrument (www.filamatic.com) Filamatic Cubitainer® filling and capping system. Says Gekkeikan vice president of production Bill Piper, the line was installed to handle growing demand for the company’s 18-L bagin-box style container of sake for restaurant use. According to Gekkeikan, it holds an approximate 25% share of the U.S. sake market, which averages nearly 13.5 million liters annu- ally. Spurring the company’s U.S. growth since 1989 has been sake’s popularity as a common menu item in Japanese and other Asian restaurants. To supply these venues, Gekkeikan offers a bag-in-box solution called the Cubitainer from Hedwin Corp. (www.hedwin. com). The Cubitainer combines a flexible, heavy-duty Cube® Insert made from linear low-density polyethylene, placed inside a corrugated fiberboard overpack. Until recently, Gekkeikan filled the Cubitainer on its second packaging line, which also accommodates a 3-L glass jug and a 1.8-L barrel. “It was getting to a point where the line was actually maxedout in terms of what we could produce in a given day in the hours available to us,” explains Piper. “We needed to get equipment that was faster and at the same time, more efficient.” TASTE OF JAPAN. Against a backdrop of Japanese-style buildings and gardens, Gekkeikan produces its bag-in-box sake product. | PACKAGING WORLD | SEPTEMBER 2009
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