German brewery opts for high-performance filler from KHS
There are repeated bursts of noise from outside the office window when trucks piled high with full crates of beer trundle off on their journey to their customers. OeTTINGER Brewery still delivers most of its products — from beer through mixed beer beverages to soft drinks — directly to supermarkets without using any intermediaries. The fleet now numbers about 120 vehicles. “Our motto is ‘consistently simple’. At OeTTINGER, it’s all about beer,” said a smiling Jürgen Brunacker, technical plant manager for OeTTINGER at the brewery site in Mönchengladbach.
KHS has been a partner to the company for several decades, helping it to implement its strategy and playing a big part in its success. The KHS Innofill Glass DRS ECO machine is now in operation at OeTTINGER and has demonstrated savings on CO2, water, energy and space, while also benefiting the brewer with improved quality in the filling process.
Mike Herrmann, the KHS sales representative responsible for OeTTINGER said: “The technology is extraordinary.”
For a total oxygen pickup of 20 ppb1 the machine only uses 160 g of carbon dioxide per hectolitre of beverage. For a value of 40 ppb 110 g of CO2 per hectolitre are needed, which is claimed to be up to 60% less than in direct market comparison.
The filler can be tailored to cater for the individual criteria of different beer styles. “We adjust the filling process to suit our customers’ products. Because of the shorter processing time, we’re not getting any bigger with our bottle filling machine,” Herrmann stated.
Lots of breweries have to buy in their carbon dioxide and due to rising prices, this is a growing cost factor. “The lower the consumption for the filled bottle, the more efficient the production process,” Brunacker said. “And the lower the oxygen pickup, the better the product quality. The concordance between these two points on this filler is phenomenal.”
The high-pressure injection unit acts as a support here, monitored by camera technology directly upstream of the container closure system. It causes foaming that displaces even the tiniest amounts of air from the bottle neck and under the domed crown cork. Too much oxygen pickup during filling damages the beer. It starts to oxidise and the taste changes.
“The new KHS filler has such low oxygen filling that product spoiling caused by the machine is practically eradicated. There hasn’t been anything quite like this in bottle filling before,” Herrmann said.
Thanks to the frequency-controlled vacuum pump and ECO process the brewery also saves up to 20% in energy and water. The vacuum pump cooling water passes through a heat exchanger and is then used for the bottle spray. To date these were separate processes that each needed their own respective media.
Besides profiting from the quality of the filling, OeTTINGER enjoys benefits in other areas too, such as the machine’s compact design; and automated and digitalised processes.
The DIAS diagnostic assistance system, for instance, monitors the entire filling sequence. Summaries of the operating data and consumption values can be easily generated. Operators can quickly intervene and make any corrections that might be necessary. In addition, individual alarm thresholds can be configured in advance.
“We can set up the machine so that it always produces the same values. This gives us a number of advantages with regard to quality management and product safety,” Brunacker said.
The system also consistently recognises bottle breakages in good time, thus further contributing to product safety. With improved broken glass protection and a bottle burst monitoring system, splinters of glass can be perfectly isolated, unlike on the old system.
The camera-controlled high-pressure injection control system known as OPTICAM enables the head of foam to be automatically monitored and regulated without the need for a machine operator. According to Herrmann, the deviation in filling accuracy is less than one millimetre. Here, automatic fill level probes enable infinitely variable adjustment of the fill levels for the different bottle shapes and sizes. This not only cuts down on beer loss but also reduces the amount of effort required for cleaning.
Product changeovers are also faster. The automatic CIP caps no longer have to be attached or removed by hand and automatically drain themselves. Switching from beer to a mixed beer beverage or one of the over 40 other beverages in the OeTTINGER range is quick and easy.
1 ppb = parts per billion. 1 ppb is the equivalent of 1 µg per kilogram, for example.
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