Since its founding in 2006, Hell Energy has rocketed to success. The energy drinks maker took over market leadership in its home country, Hungary, in just four years and soon extended its position to other countries. Hell Energy is now one of the top three energy drink brands worldwide. To meet the steadily rising demand for energy drinks and carbonated soft drinks, the company has been investing heavily in new equipment, including two high-speed canning lines from Krones.
Premium quality at an affordable price? At Hell Energy, the two factors are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary. As a result, the company’s energy and soft drinks are conquering the world. Currently available in over 50 countries, they are less expensive than comparable premium products. A well-conceived business model has paved the way for the company’s success. “We have the highest level of vertical integration in the energy drink sector. We cover the entire chain of production in-house: from our own aluminum beverage can factory to one Krones PET line and four filling lines for metal cans – three of them from Krones as well – to a fully automated high-bay warehouse. We also operate our own filling station, mechanic shop and vehicle fleet, maintain an online store, and manufacture our own vending machines,” says Barnabás Csereklye, Managing Director of Hell Energy, adding that “No other company in our sector does all of that in-house.”
Output more than tripled
In response to steadily rising demand for its beverages, Hell Energy has been systematically growing its infrastructure, placing particular emphasis on state-of-the-art technology. As part of its investment campaign, the company put two high-speed can filling lines from Krones into operation in 2018 and 2019. “Until then, our capacity for filling cans was just under 100,000 containers per hour, not nearly enough to cover demand. So we decided to expand our production capacity – and we more than tripled it,” explains Csereklye.
When it came to selecting the new equipment, Hell Energy chose Krones. It was no coincidence, as Csereklye explains: “We’ve relied on Krones ever since we started bottling and canning here in Szikszó. They installed a canning line and a PET bottling line in 2011 – and we’ve been incredibly satisfied with both performance and service. Krones has always done its best to meet emerging needs – and they’ve always been professional, friendly, and driven by our common goals.”
Pasteurizer instead of preservatives
Each of the two new Krones lines processes 120,000 cans per hour – and both are already operating at full capacity, around the clock, in four shifts. “High speed and automation are key to our ability to meet the growing demand for our products,” says Csereklye. While one of the two lines is dedicated exclusively to 250-milliliter slim cans – mostly of Hell Classic, the company’s top-selling energy drink – the second fills all of Hell’s other energy drinks, carbonated soft drinks, and XIXO brand iced teas into three different can sizes.
The two new lines are configured identically: Besides various inspection systems for empty and full cans and a Contiflow mixer, each line contains a 175-head Modulfill VFS-C filler. To ensure the highest level of safety for all products, all Hell Energy cans – energy drinks and iced teas alike – are treated in a double-deck LinaFlex pasteurizer. “We pasteurize all of our beverages to ensure their stability. We don’t use preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or aspartame. We use only the best natural ingredients like real granulated sugar or stevia, coffee extract, and milk – and vitamins,” says Csereklye. Hell Energy relies on a Variopac Pro for packing. Grouping and palletizing are handled by a Pressant PalBloc consisting of a Robobox and a Pressant Universal that builds up to 580 layers per hour. SitePilot Line Diagnostics monitor the entire production line.
Ready for anything
“When investing in new equipment, we look for the most modern and most efficient technologies available. We need to deliver a lot of product, so high efficiency, low spoilage, and excellent reliability are crucial. And of course, we don’t want to cut corners when it comes to quality,” says Csereklye. “That’s why we chose Krones. Our many years of good partnership spoke for themselves – and it was already clear during the installation and commissioning phase that we had made the right choice. We were and still are very satisfied. Krones has definitely met our expectations.” Hell Energy also took every opportunity to have its own staff learn from Krones’ wealth of experience and expertise. Whenever possible, the team that would later be responsible for the lines committed to memory the steps taken by Krones technicians, noting down details and taking photos and videos for future reference. Thanks to their initiative, the team was able to immediately resolve a problem on the line with only Krones Remote Service support when travel was restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Unlike other beverage producers, Hell Energy maintained double-digit sales growth even at the height of the global coronavirus lockdown. “In the first half of 2020, our domestic revenue rose by more than 30 percent and exports increased by 24 percent,” says Csereklye. “That may be partly because we responded quickly and got creative when the pandemic began. We added Vitamins C and D to our best-selling energy drink and sold it under the name Hell Classic Plus, at the same price as the classic version. I think our customers appreciate our innovative spirit as well as our openness.” These are important characteristics that Hell Energy intends to maintain. The company is working to further expand its market presence worldwide, to bring premium quality at an affordable price to even more people while maintaining its role as best-practice leader – as the energy drinks producer with an unparalleled level of automation and vertical integration at a single site.
Benchmark for vertical integration
Hell Energy’s facility is located in Szikszó, in northeastern Hungary. The northern portion of the property houses Quality Pack, the company’s own aluminum can manufacturing plant. Hell Energy’s need for cans already exceeds the plant’s capacity of 1.5 billion cans per year, so a second can production line is already in the works. The Quality Pack plant is directly connected to a raw materials storage facility and a fully automated high-bay warehouse with 32,000 pallet slots. The warehouse is directly adjacent to the 12,500 square-meter filling plant equipped with three canning lines and one PET bottling line from Krones.
In September 2020, Hell Energy opened another filling hall to bring its iced coffee production in-house. The requisite canning line was already on hand, but the equipment needed for producing the beverage was not. Krones’ subsidiary Milkron provided all of the necessary process technology – from engineering to commissioning. Krones itself delivered the VarioAsept M UHT system, and Krones subsidiary HST supplied the homogenizer.
Bruce Willis boosts brand recognition
Despite fierce competition on the energy drinks market, Hell Energy has successfully increased awareness of its brand over the years. That’s thanks in part to the company’s marketing strategy, which includes sponsoring sports teams like the Williams Formula 1 racing team. In addition, in 2018, the company recruited none other than Bruce Willis to be its brand ambassador. Sales doubled after Willis’ endorsement. Hell Energy is currently number three on the energy drinks market worldwide and leads the market in ten countries in Central and Southeastern Europe, holding a 60 percent share of some of those markets.