Canmaker: “Former Ball chief to set up metal bottle plants”

Jan Driessens

A newly-formed independent manufacturer is planning to offer lightweight aluminium bottles to brewers in Europe who are looking for more stylish containers that match the look of glass.

Helvetia Metal Bottles Co is being led by former Ball president in Europe Jan Driessens, who is also a member of The Canmaker magazine’s editorial board.

Driessens has been working with canmaking equipment manufacturer Schuler AG on the specification of the D&I manufacturing lines, and especially the Japanese-developed TMC neckers necessary to produce aluminium bottles with taller necks than are currently available.

“Talking to the brewers, we found that they would welcome tall-neck aluminium bottles similar to those in glass,” said Driessens.

“Using the D&I process the bottles will also be between 35 and 50 percent lighter than equivalent impact-extruded bottles, and therefore more cost effective. We expect them to cost on average €200 [US$223] per 1,000 compared to the €280 to €320 [$312 to $356] per 1,000 for impact extruded bottles.”

Driessens says he expects to have customers in place by September or October. Funding will be available for two factories to be set up, one in Italy, the other in the Netherlands, to provide coverage for customers up to 500km distant in Europe.

The D&I production lines will be set up in existing factory units, reducing the capital costs. Although line speeds of 1,250 bottles per minute are envisaged, the plan is to start at 500 bottles per minute, scaling up with additional bodymakers and neckers as demand increases. This offers an initial capacity for each line of 200 million bottles a year, increasing to almost 500 million.

The plan is to have the first production lines operational in the second quarter of 2019.

“The investors asked me to lead this venture,” said Driessens. “Then we formed Helvetia Metal Bottle Company, set up the website and now we are talking to potential customers.

“There are a number of potential markets for this new type of bottle – non- and low-alcohol drinks for younger consumers, premium and craft beers, and ‘fab’ drinks, or fabricated drinks.

“The customers are looking for added value for their quality products. The innovation of our ‘metal bottle’ is key to this objective. Both for the off-trade as well as the on-trade this bottle proposition gives ample opportunities for growth of the top-line as well as the bottom-line.”

View the story in the Canmaker!

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