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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 30) – Solomon Islands beer manufacturer Solbrew Company yesterday officially opened its SB$22 million [US$3 million] beverage canning plant - providing a window of opportunities for export, easy transportation and recycling.

The opening ceremony was attended by Minister of Commerce, Industries and Employment Peter Shanel, his permanent secretary Jeffrey Wickham, representatives from the business corporations, local business owners and the company staff.

Solbrew board chairman Stephen Dowling said the introduction of the new canning plant came following difficulties the company encountered in terms of transportation and packaging of bottled beer.

"Our bottled beer has been enjoyed throughout the Solomon Islands however, because the Solomons is an isolated nation requiring products produced in Honiara to be transported by sea over long distances between provinces, the bottle package has had some drawbacks.

"Our bottles are durable, but they are not as compact as cans for freighting and they are heavy - but still susceptible to breakage."

He said while it was company policy that Solbrew products be easily accessible to customers at fair prices, the disadvantageous logistic of freighting bottles to remote areas have prevented this on various occasions. mAt the same time, he said delays in return shipping resulted in empty reusable bottles stockpiled in the provinces caused the company to experience bottle shortage at Ranadi.

However, yesterday with the officially of the new canning plant, Dowling said the new cans though it is "one way packaging", they are of recyclable aluminum which may be collected by independent agencies as scrap for sale or reprocessing. Not only that, but he said the installation of the canning line also opened up an export potential for the company.

"The can is virtually ‘export ready’ and we shall be pursuing our export opportunities once we have established the ‘canned product’ in our core market. This new canning line firmly demonstrates the shareholders commitment to the long term potential of the Solomon Islands and the new line opens new downstream employment opportunities," the chairman said.

Shanel told Solomon Star yesterday that the company’s recent development is good for the economy of Solomon Islands.

"It is good for our economy because it is government policy to encourage export and investment in our country and this company is an example of what we want for our country.

"This is very impressive and I encourage Solbrew to continue with this good work," Mr Shanel said. Brauhaase International Management, is the company responsible for the installation of the new plant. The managing director Christoph Steinwehe told Solomon Star that the new plant can produce 12,000 cans per hour and 2,400 to 2,800 cartons per day. The cans used in the production were imported from New Zealand.

In the production line, these empty cans are placed into an automatic depalletizer, which places the cans one by one on conveyors. The conveyors transported the cans through the whole production process.

Mr. Steinwehe said in the production process the cans are washed properly before proceeding into the filler machine where 355ml of drink is poured into the cans and shield with lids.

"When it comes out from the filler the cans then go through an x-ray machine to check for damage and to ensure they are filled to the required 355ml. If not then they will be pushed out from the production line," Steinwehe said. From the x-ray machine, the cans will go into another machine called pasteurizer, which gives the cans a 12-month self-life.

"This is to ensure the drinks have the same quality during the 12 months period and this is especially important when shipping these drinks to places outside of Honiara." After another series of tests and x-rays, the cans that passed the process came for packing where 48 cans are packed into two boxes after every 40 seconds.

September 29, 2006

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