A collaboration between Domaine Chandon Australia and Sidel resulted in a packaging rethink and ultimately improved efficiencies in its bottling operations. This article was first published in Food & Drink Business July/August 2020.
As the Australian sparkling wine market became more competitive, Domaine Chandon Australia (DCA) looked to improve its bottling production line.
Working with Sidel’s experts in end-of-line solutions, DCA has increased the utilisation rate of its manufacturing assets and produced more consistent case stacking quality on pallets.
The fully automated Cermex WB46 Wrap-Around case packer – including a partition inserter module and coupled with the PalAccess palletiser – has enabled DCA to accommodate the growing local demand for premium wine.
These outcomes have led to improved downstream logistics operations.
Steeped in history, focused on the futureDCA has a history going back decades to when Moët & Chandon started producing premium sparkling wines outside of France.
Chandon’s founder, Robert-Jean de Vogüé, first travelled abroad in the late 1950s to collaborate with winemakers in foreign countries, applying his Champagne expertise to new world sparkling wine creation.
In the mid-1980s, a team of Chandon’s experts discovered Green Point, an old dairy farm in the Yarra Valley in the state of Victoria. There, the climate is cool and the soil is rich, making it the perfect spot for DCA to produce méthode traditionnelle sparkling wines.
Staying on top of the sparkling wine wave
The sparkling wine segment accounts for 6.9 per cent of the wine and cider market in Australia and is expected to grow over the next five years.
This positive trajectory is due to the increasing consumer preference towards premium and more sophisticated drinks, including French champagnes.
Since 2014, more and more wine lovers have been shifting from low-value wines to higher-value ones, leading to a growth of five per cent and an expected revenue of US$6.9 billion through 2018-2019.
With new companies expected to enter the segment, companies like DCA are looking to greater production line automation to stay competitive.
Sidel’s heritage with wine and spirits
Sidel and DCA began working on the project several years ago, starting with conceptual layouts based on the available floor space, the packaging design specifications and DCA’s technical requirements for the equipment.
Wrap-around packing is not widely used in this industry, but the Australian sparkling wine producer quickly identified the benefits of using this type of case versus the more commonly seen regular slotted case (RSC) designs.
Country manager for Australia at Sidel Julien Claudin says: “DCA is a true pioneer, and despite the challenges they represented to couple this case design with the integration of a partition inserter module within the same piece of equipment, we were very excited to be part of this journey.”
DCA’s objective for the new installation was to partner with one supplier to provide an end-to-end solution that embarked on a high level of automation for each and every step of the process.
The Cermex WB46 Wrap-Around case packer is suited for the packing operation involving premium product handling, according to Sidel.
The machine provides smooth bottle handling, regardless of the bottle’s design or applied label type. All the contact points between the machine’s parts and the products are designed to maintain the products integrity and to avoid the risks of product marking – no matter whether it is handling special editions decorated with sleeves, or regular DCA bottles, which come with paper labels.
The picking head grabs and transfers six bottles at a time onto the automated partition inserter module that is built into the case packer unit.
“We spent time verifying the proposed technical concepts to make sure that the bottles would be handled with extra care, minimising the risks of damaging any part of the container, including hoods, labels and sleeves,” Claudin explains.
Afterwards the product collation is transferred into the Wrap-Around blanks that are then fully enclosed around the bottles to provide a strong and perfectly squared case. The latter is fundamental to ensure proper palletisation and successful downstream logistics operations.
Chris Fraser, production supervisor at DCA says: “Our cartons have an extremely squared shape and also stack very well on the pallet; this means that there is minimal impact on our quality once the product is transported.”
DCA operations director Richard McCaughey adds: “We already had a case packing solution onsite but this one still included a high level of manual handling: we inserted case partitions by hand, palletised by hand and forklifted between machines for stretch wrapping.”
Coming out of the Cermex WB46, the cases are labelled and conveyed into the Sidel PalAccess palletiser. This piece of equipment is another automated unit with tool-less changeovers, requiring neither a change of parts nor manual adjustments.
Looking into the future, the HMI’s built-in PalDesigner software enables operators to design, simulate and load new pallet patterns without the need of additional programming or specific service intervention.
The new operating panel’s interface also allows access to the machine’s technical documentation, One Point Lesson (OPL) sheets and specific videos to assist with trouble shooting operations.
McCaughey says, “Throughout the whole process, the Sidel teams were very proactive and helped us analyse some of the most difficult challenges of the project, in particular the automated partition insertion into the cases.”
Sidel expands ANZ footprint
“One of the doubts we initially had during this project was working with a supplier who have their roots in Europe: we were afraid that the local support they might have provided to an Australian customer was less than what we usually get from local players.
“Looking back, it was very encouraging to see that Sidel is rather able to combine local proximity with a global footprint; this is key if they want to increase their operations in our region,” McCaughey says.
“We are currently expanding in the Australian and New Zealand markets,” Claudin says. “For us, Chandon are a very strong partner here, especially since we want to grow further in this market, building on our longstanding legacy in the wine and spirits segment.”
The end-of-line project has now been running successfully for more than a year and DCA is seeing positive results all around: the sparkling winemaker has been able to achieve higher efficiency levels and reach their production targets in a growing business environment.