In 1990, a small company in Proctorsville, Vermont that specialised in making apple wine took the initial steps in creating the first truly American hand-crafted hard (alcoholic) cider for over 200 years.

The company, today known as the Woodchuck® Cidery*, started by making just small batches performing many production tasks by hand, including topping out the bottles with a turkey baster, applying labels and filling the kegs.

Today, the Woodchuck Cidery has a state of the art production facility with a keg filling system and automated bottling lines. The company has recently installed a blower-powered bottle drying system to help keep up with the growing demand and satisfy today’s labelling and ink jet coding requirements.

The bottle drying system was supplied by ACI Inc., the US subsidiary of Air Control Industries of Axminster. The drying line is based upon ACI’s ‘JetPLate’ system.
ACI’s JetPlate system comprises facing air-delivery plenums that can be positioned close to the travelling bottles ensuring maximum drying efficiency whilst simultaneously acting as guide rails to prevent bottles from falling.

The JetPlates are complemented by pairs of airknives and adjustable air delivery nozzles to provide detail cap and neck drying. Air for these systems is provided by an ACI ‘EL’ semi-enclosed blower unit. This is leg mounted so can be installed alongside bottle/can lines or even straddle them.
The ability of the ACI system to handle the company’s increased throughput of 600 bottles/min is illustrated by reduced instances of coding illegibility from 30% down to 3% and more accurate label placing, with no defects jumping from 50% up to 99.9%!
The JetPlates require minimal adjustment for different bottle sizes. They can handle bottles ranging in size up to 3 litres. At the Woodchuck Cidery the bottle sizes are standard 12oz and 22oz bottles.

“We needed a new bottle drying system that could cope with our increased production,” said Russ Beatty, Quality Manager. “As well as coping with our higher production levels, the ACI system is more effective than our previous systems because coding and labelling standards have improved significantly.”

* dba of Vermont Hard Cider Company, LLC

Telephone: 0845 5000 501