Quality Control

Quality Control

Meticulous quality

Quality is at the heart of everything we do

We’ve invested in state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, with an entire line made up of Krones  equipment. Engineered in Germany, Krones has built a solid reputation as the leader in beverage manufacturing equipment.

Each can of your beverage is mixed in-line through our Contiflow mixer at a continued dose rate for a well-rounded, smooth-tasting product. This ensures your product specifications are consistent throughout the entire run, avoiding the risk of inaccurate Brix or alcohol levels at the start and end of production.

From there, your cans are filled through our Craftmate at a rate of 18,000 cans per hour, with 32 filling valves allowing us to fill 300 cans per minute. In the beverage industry, efficiency is key and the Craftmate allows us to run your product quickly and consistently.

We have three Checkmat inspection systems:

1. The first Checkmat comes into play before filling, inspecting the structural integrity of each empty can as it passes through. Any cans that don’t meet the criteria are kicked off the line before they’re even filled.
2. The next Chekmat inspects each can straight after filling to ensure no underfills of your product.
3. Our final Checkmat runs a secondary post-pasteurisation check, removing the occasional can that has leaked under heat.

The next stage of the line is pasteurisation, and a completely automated software ensures that your beverages have a constant PU for their entire journey through the tunnel pasterusier.

Protecting your brand’s reputation

We produce our own beverage - Vista - at Free Flow, so we understand the importance of quality control better than most contract manufacturers. We know that slip-ups can’t simply be fixed with a refund or credit note, as this doesn’t reverse the damage to your brand’s reputation.

Our in-house production manager and quality control team follow a rigorous process to ensure that every single can leaving our facility looks, tastes and feels exactly how it should.

Our quality control measures

Inwards goods: All raw ingredients are assigned a batch number and tracked in our inventory system on arrival. Any ingredients that require chilling are temperature checked before they’re stored.

Water filtration: Water goes through a reverse osmosis system, removing sediments, chlorine and other dissolved solids to provide the cleanest water for your beverage.

Blending: We weigh each ingredient manually using calibrated scales and carefully follow the blending method detailed in your beverage’s recipe. Beverages are individually mixed in-line, ensuring accurate dosage rates for every can. After blending, we use reference samples of your beverage to check the new batch.

Lab testing: We test every batch of your beverage in-house, measuring the pH, sugar and carbon dioxide levels. Alcoholic beverages are distilled and then the alcohol volume is continually monitored using our in-line Anton Parr.

Pasteurisation: During the pasteurisation process, we monitor your beverage’s PU and ensure it remains at the correct level using an automatically-controlled system through our Krones software.

Fill height: Each can passes through one of our Checkmat machines, which checks the can’s body quality and fill height before and after pasteurisation. Any cans that don’t fit the criteria are booted off the line.

Seam testing: During production, our shift managers run a 3-stage seam test to check that the lid on each can has been seamed correctly.

General production checks: Our shift managers, machine operators and packaging technicians spot check random samples of each beverage throughout the production process, assessing can weight, pack weight, carbonation level and glue quality.

Cleaning: We have a rigorous daily and weekly cleaning schedule to ensure our facility is equipped for safe handling, eliminating the risk of contamination.

Downstream testing: Random samples of each finished beverage are sent to independent labs at 6 months and 12 months after production, where shelf life and quality specifications are checked.

Internal audits: Our systems and processes are reviewed regularly, with an annual audit that focuses on cleaning, testing and training procedures.

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