Coca-Cola plant in Henrico completes $23m in expansion and equipment investments

By Gregory Gilligan | Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Coca-Cola bottling company has spent $23 million upgrading and expanding its plant in eastern Henrico County.

The bulk of the investment by Coca-Cola Consolidated was used toward adding a new piece of equipment that takes a 3¼-inch piece of high-density plastic — about the size of a test tube — and molds the plastic into the desired shape and size of a bottle by having a machine blow high-pressure air into it.

“The blow-mold process is where we get pre-forms — they are pre-made plastic bottles,” plant manager John Eady said. “We take that pre-form, stretch it and blow it into the size bottle that we need for the packaging equipment.”

The pre-form plastics have a standard length but come in various weights that affect the final size of the bottle. For example, a half-liter pre-form has a different weight than the 20-ounce pre-form. Adding the blow-mold line for bottle production allows for more efficient production with a lower environmental impact, the company said.

“This reduces a lot of freight for our company,” Eady said. “It also increases the productivity in the facility, as we are able to run at higher speeds, and more efficient packaging process.”

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