Craft brewery eliminates bottling line bottleneck
Founded in 1996 with a few hundred dollars and some repurposed equipment, Three Floyds Brewery, in Indiana, USA, had a modest beginning, growing to an output of 4600 hectolitres (HL) at the end of its first decade.
The subsequent boom in the popularity of craft beer saw demand explode, with production rising to 58,000 HL by 2015.
Responding to the increased demand, in 2012 Three Floyds commissioned a new and larger 35 HL brewhouse. But the 30-year-old pre-owned bottling line, rated at 4200 bottles per hour, became the production operation’s bottleneck.
A new solution was urgently needed and was found in the shape of a complete line from Krones, which has been dimensioned for a speed of 15,000 bottles per hour. Three Floyds built a new hall adjacent to the existing brewery to accommodate it.
The line started operation in September 2015 and consists of a Pressant Universal 1N bulk-glass sweep-off depalletiser with low-level discharge onto a bulk conveyor. After being spaced, the bottles are passed directly to the rinser-filler bloc, comprising a Moduljet rinser and a Modulfill filler. “We don’t need an empty-bottle inspector,” said Packaging Manager Travis Fasano, “because we’re using exclusively bulk glass and we put our trust in the rinser’s quality.”
The Modulfill HRS filler does not have a front table; the bottles are conveyed in neck-handling mode by free-standing starwheel columns so as to ensure optimum hygiene.
“The filler gives us excellent values for oxygen pick-up of 50 ppb, coupled with very consistent fill levels,” explained Fasano.
The field-proven, short-tube, level-controlled filler with vent tubes operates with double pre-evacuation and an interpolated CO2-flushing feature. The filling valves are electro-pneumatically controlled. The bottles are inspected for correct fill level in a Checkmat FM-X and immediately after that dressed in shoulder labels on a Prontomatic with a cold-glue station.
Correct label placement is verified in another Checkmat E. Complete end-of-the-line packaging is handled in a Varioline with two modules, which produces sixpacks with 355 mL bottles as a basket and packs them in 24-bottle cartons. Or it directly produces 12-bottle cartons holding 650 mL bottles. After that, palletising is still done by hand.
Future plans are to install a new bigger brewhouse, and then a new kegging line, and finally to expand the glass bottling line to include a Krones can filler and a fully automatic palletiser.
Phone: 02 9475 9000
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