#JourneyxJourney was a unique experience made up of cities explored, challenges surmounted, people met, and stories told. But importantly, it was also an amazing opportunity for Meagan and I to learn about our own company, and the people and processes behind it, in a very personal way – which is no small feat when you work for the world’s largest beverage company!
Our bottlers are an essential part of the Coca-Cola system, so we visited several during our three-week trip across America. But one in particular, in the small town of Truesdale, Missouri, has a unique claim to fame that not many people may know about – it distributes 100% of aluminum contour bottles in North America!
We wanted to share some of the fascinating things we learned with the rest of the world. So here (with the help of a few GIFs), the ABCs of packaging and innovation, brought to you by Truesdale:
A is for Aluminum
The aluminum contour bottle is an incredibly popular package for Trademark Coca-Cola brands (Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero) and Sprite. But did you know it’s barely more than a decade old?
The bottle was first introduced in global limited edition in 2005, before reappearing in France the next year as the package for the short-lived Coca-Cola Blak. And by the time it launched in North America, the bottle’s design had been refined into the form we know and love today, twist-off cap and all.
While growing in popularity and availability over the years, the aluminum bottles have remained a regular canvas for limited-edition designs and collections, helping to keep that sense of "specialness." And another bonus to these bottles? They’re 100% recyclable!
B is for Bottling
This was our first visit to a live production line, and what an experience it was. We were able to watch from the startup process, and the bottles began moving through at what looked like a pretty fast pace to us.
And then they just kept speeding up.
In fact, we learned, the Truesdale plant can process its aluminum bottles at a speed of 800 per minute. And even that cap of 800 isn’t so much a limitation of the laws of physics as it is instead care for the form and for the final product –any faster and it would risk imperfections or dents in the famous contour shape.
C is for Cappers
Three of them, that is.
And when we say "capper," we’re referring to this magnificent bit of machinery:
As plant manager Dedrick Harris explained to us, the capping technology used at Truesdale is a remarkable achievement and one of the key parts of the bottle’s success. The caps on the aluminum bottles are twist-off, resealable designs. But it was actually a major challenge to develop the process that could roll these caps on and seal them effectively, while still keeping the shape of the delicate, lightweight bottle intact.
When the designers struck gold, the new capping process allowed for the Truesdale plant to become the fast and effective operation that it is today. And the technology is unique – of four such machines in the entire world, Truesdale has three.
We ended up leaving Missouri loaded down not just with new knowledge, but also with casefuls of aluminum bottles to share along the road! Thanks to the team at Truesdale (and the designers at Ford's Motor City Solutions, who had custom built a cooler into the trunk of our Escape!) we were able to bring bottles fresh from the production lines to our hosts and guests on the road ahead. And at every stop we were able to tell them that these bottles came direct from the only plant in North America that produces them... the plant in Truesdale, Missouri.
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