Pet Bottles… Inseparable Element in the Packaged Drinking Water Industry

Times have completely changed

This goes way back in 1995. In an exhibition, where we had participated; there was a special stall for “Mineral Water” available. Obviously, it was not just the Mineral Water, but the Packaged Drinking Water. It used to be sold @ Rs. 10/- that time. Almost everyone had a definite conviction in their mind : “This is a typical Western Fad. Not gonna work here- (India)”. I remember even having asked the gentleman on the Bisleri Stall.. Yeh Show-wala Pani Koi Letabhi Hai..?” meaning… Does someone really buy this Show-Water?” He came out with an obvious “Not really” answer. But after some time, some official from Bisleri came & personally met me. He said: Water may be plenty available in India, but not the PURE Water. You will see the trend completely reversing !

Do you really need me to tell you, that his saying came to a reality today? Though I was personally happy that his first assumption is proving wrong – there is plenty of water available in India (You know the current imbalanced situation–thanks to our fast urbanization).

Almost every beverage is in PET bottles now

Earlier, there was almost an equation : Beverages = Glass Bottles. But now? If you keep aside some of the liquids where only Glass has to be used, PET has replaced glass totally. There is a massive shift from Glass to PET, in Bottles. And if we talk about Packaged Drinking Water Bottle, its almost 100%. Water is packed in PET bottles necessarily. Of course there are exceptions. I remember having seen a company in Pune, which packs Mineral Water (different than a BIS 14543 grade Packaged Drinking Water), does offer it in Glass Bottles too. It’s a premium offer, but I also remember him having sold all the stock before the day-end.

Why PET Bottles ?

  1. Very easy to handle, no spillage.
  2. Very convenient to carry while traveling.
  3. Easy to manufacture compared to Glass Bottles.
  4. Manufacturing Setup doesn’t require huge investments.
  5. Reduced weight makes the bottles cost effective.

There may be many interconnected benefits of using PET bottles, but the above listed are the major ones. And there are challenges too. Major of them is the Plastic usage. PET is a Plastic Material. It’s NOT an Eco-friendly thing. However, to some extent, it is recycled. But many places around the world, Plastic Bottles are getting Banned. You should consider this threat.

Is PET Bottle your business?

At the prima facie, the question does not seem valid; as PET bottle is not your business. But you will see that Packaged Drinking Water bottling companies do have their own Bottle Manufacturing units–their own. Some reasons listed:

Operational Cost Saving.

As you may be aware that a PET bottle of 1 Ltr. is blown from a small bottle, almost 1/10th of its size. It is called as PET Preform. With the help of a PET Blow Machine, this is done. So, when you buy a 1 Ltr. empty bottles from outside, you need to transport the Bottles. And vice versa, when you make a bottle within factory, you need to transport the Preforms. Preforms being 1/10th of size of the bottles, it’s 10 times cheaper to transport them compared to the Bottles.

pet-bottles1 preform to bottle

Lesser Dependence

When you already have a Bottle Producing setup, you are almost assured of uninterrupted supply of Bottles. This case is more valid in peak seasons, when there may be pending orders. Just imagine, you are ready with everything and just waiting for the next truck of bottles to arrive !

No Hi-Tech Setup Required

As mentioned earlier, it does not call for a very hi-tech setup. So, it does not remain monopoly of big companies (Remember how huge is a glass factory?) You can very easily train 1-2 workmen to operate the machinery & that’s it.

Not much space consumptive

Blowing Machine

If you talk about the most basic machine (which suits the 2000 LPH plant), it won’t need more than 500 sqft. of space. The elements in a Blowing Setup are :

  1. Blow Machine Itself.
  2. Compressor to blow air.
  3. The mould suiting to the Bottle.
  4. Cooling Arrangement for Mould (Cooling Tower).
  5. Preform Heating Conveyor.

Reasonably good production rate

Again if we talk about the basic 2000 LPH Packaged Drinking Water Plant Setup, the typical, simple basic 4-cavity Machine will give you a production of 1000-1200 Bottles per hour. Usually, combined with the next in Line Machine – The Bottle filling machine. The Blowing machine needs to be run for a little more time compared to the filling machine. Normally the blowing machine, if run for 12 hours a day, will give you production suitable to a 8 hour run for a filling machine.

Reasonable Investment

Talking about the PET Blow Machine Pricing today (May 2016), the basic setup as mentioned above will cost you appx 8-9 Lakhs. Again this may vary from company to company.

There are challenges too! I have listed the top of them

Different Technological interface

The major challenge being the training and maintaining the manpower to operate a different setup than water. The Mould, its own peculiar issues, need to cope up with them. Then comes the Blowing Machine operations etc.

Additional Investment

As it is almost essential, every packaged drinking water businessman has to buy this otherwise unwanted stuff. So this becomes (though cost effective) an additional investment burden to him.

Huge Power consumer

The simplest Blowing Machine setup needs 30-35 HP Power. Not only this, but the electrical heaters in the machine also run your meter like anything. Be ready for this.

plastic-bottle-cap-250x250

What about the bottle cap?

Okay. Cap is not made on the PET blow machine. But this is relatively a smaller & lesser cost effective item, I would suggest you buy it directly. Remember: your business is Water, not Plastic. If it’s plastic, do make those. Then also make the shrink sleeves, labels!

Buy or Produce, what to do?

The straight answer to this is:  Produce. But there may be some exceptions to that like :-Buy-or-Produce

  1. Your Product Mix does not have more than 10% share of Bottles.
  2. You have a Bottle Manufacturer next door.
  3. You are selling Water in Glass Bottles.

As a whole, I am sure you got your answers. If you have questions, you are welcome to post them through the comments section.