After what seems like years in the making, we are very excited as our new building, Phase 2 now called Bottling, has been filled with brand new shiny equipment.
Until now, we had to rely on contractors, either from the UK or from France, to help with bottling, disgorging and labeling. While we’ve been very satisfied with those services, we felt that we were missing something important: flexibility and autonomy. Although I need to point out that the Institut Œnologique de Champagne, who would come to process our sparkling wine bottling, as well as our disgorging, were always very accommodating, as we kept changing dates, from now on were are 100% independent and this is a relief. We are finally going to be able to schedule work as we please and hopefully be (even) more efficient.
We were very lucky in the way that we were able to select all 3 full lines (bottling, disgorging and labeling) from the best manufacturers. We opted for semi-automatic options, for example, to transfer empty bottles from the pallet to the conveyor feeding the bottling line. Instead of transferring bottles by hand, we’ll pilot a machine that picks up a full layer from the pallet at once. That is 142 bottles in one go!
A reminder of what loading by hand looks like:
Now, the new piece of equipment that shows a bit of a different scale:
The exact same applies to the disgorging line: Instead of picking by hand from the riddling cages, a machine will pick a full layer of 105 bottles to feed the neck freezer, as seen below.
The bottling line should run at about 5,500 bottles per hour (this is where the semi-automatic bottle loader will come very handy) and disgorging/labeling should run at about 2,500 bottles per hour.
There is now a lot to learn, a lot of information to absorb as to how to run all thee different machines and how to maintain them. For example, the disgorging/labeling line comprises of a total of 13 machines on a length of about 50 meters, it starts from the right with the red painted machine and comes all the way to the left, see below:
This is our January 2019 project as we should be disgorging around 25,000 bottles then.
Yet again, exciting times! This leaves me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. To be celebrated with English Sparkling Wine of course!!!