Belvac - At the forefront of emerging technologies

Belvac is a world leader in the design and production of continuous motion rotary machinery, providing beverage-can-makers with high-speed trimming, necking, base reprofiling and reforming, shaping, bottom rim coating, flanging and inspection technology. Ricardo Ruiz de Gopegui, the company's vice-president for branded packaging solutions, discusses how it stays innovative, and his view on what's driving the big trends in the market.

It's a competitive business. Where do you see yourself positioned?

Ricardo Ruiz de Gopegui: Belvac has been known for over three decades as the provider of the highest-quality and best-performing machinery in the two-piece can industry. That 30 years' experience in developing and commercialising necking systems for standard two-piece cans enabled us to expand our technology portfolio and know-how into more complex systems to produce a wide range of containers and shapes like the aluminium bottles, at more than four times the speed that anybody else has done before.

Our high-precision and more consistent forming technologies translate into lower-cost containers for our customers, continuing the Belvac tradition that has placed the company as one of the premier technology providers in the industry.

What would you say are the key trends in the industry, as you see them?

The aluminium bottle is the biggest trend in the industry right now. Its potential to replace glass for products like beer and carbonated soft drinks is enormous - and it is already evidenced by the significant growth we are seeing from key customers in the US, Europe, South America and China.

This is driven by logistics advantages for aluminium versus glass, significantly higher recycling rates, and the ability to capture usage occasions where glass is being banned due to safety concerns, such as public events and open spaces, while maintaining the possibility for brand-owners to commercialise very profitable beverages through premium and differentiated packaging that delivers a high-quality product through its entire shelf life. The very high barrier performance of the aluminium bottle protects the beverage ingredients and retains carbonation for an extended period of time, delivering the best possible experience to consumers.

How is Belvac working to stay on top of this and innovate to stay ahead of the competition?

We are consistently investing in our technology to drive continuous improvement initiatives, and generate new technology platforms with superior performance and more flexible solutions for our customers. We are also working on multiple development programmes for new containers, with a strong focus on packages that are easy to introduce into current filling lines, as well as exploring container lightweighting opportunities. Our focus has always been, and it continues to be, on generating superior value for our customers through higher speeds, higher productivity and lower-cost containers.

Sustainability is important. How do you work to guarantee it along the supply chain?

Our technology has always had a significant positive impact on the sustainability of our customers operations. Better-performing systems with the lowest spoilage rates have always been the focus for Belvac, with a direct impact on reducing waste and environmental footprint. Our container lightweighting initiatives also support our customers' efforts to reduce the footprint of their operations and products, as a significant portion of the environmental impact for packaging converters and brand-owners is driven by the amount of material used.

Additionally, sustainable operations are not only about driving reductions in environmental footprint, but also in protecting the human component, in our case through securing the safety of all our equipment, which is designed following the most strict safety standards dictated by the CE regulations.

Where do you see the market heading in the next decade?

Standard two-piece beverage cans will continue to suffer in North America, driven by the challenges in the carbonated soft-drinks market. We see an accelerating growth for the aluminium bottle that won't slow down during the next decade. And we also see an opportunity to grow the two-piece can industry through innovation; technologies that can form more complex and differentiated designs at high speeds, low weights, and that can easily be changed over to different designs and sizes have a high potential to transform the industry to a renewed level of growth.


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