Scaling Production with Precision

By: Kris Bohm of Distillery Now Consulting

Many beverage businesses start off with the owners or the founders serving in production manufacturing and in sales roles. As the business grows it is no longer feasible for the founders to serve in many of these roles as the needs of the business change with growth. One of the challenges many founders face in scaling their business is maintaining consistent manufacturing practices when they are no longer the person who is responsible for those practices. Training for new employees in small businesses can sometimes be inconsistent or informal.  When training is not implemented cleanly enough that a newly hired employee can fulfill their responsibilities fully it can be frustrating for all involved. Lets take a look at some easy to implement solutions that can help your employees do the best job possible.

  One solution to this problem is creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). When you detail in writing each step of the manufacturing process in a document that is readily available to those performing the task, you should get more consistent results. Standard operating procedures can be tedious to create but will save you time in the long run and give your employees the confidence to perform complex tasks with ease. In the process of beverage manufacturing there are many complex steps. Without a set of standard operating procedures it can be extremely difficult for a new hire to fully grasp their roles and responsibilities.

  The optimal steps in training a new hire are the following. Create a written set of operating procedures that are clear and easy to follow. Review the SOP with employees and discuss the steps with them as well to confirm understanding. Once an employee has a basic understanding of the operating procedure the person training the employee along with the new employee should go through the process detailed in the SOP together. By having the trainer first complete the process while following the SOP it will fully demonstrate for the employee how the steps are done. This on hand training will often bring up questions from the employee being trained that might not otherwise come up. Once the employee being trained has seen the process completed following the SOP it is best for them to then complete the procedure outlined in the SOP in the presence of the trainer. It is critical at this step that the trainer does not work hands on with the new employee but is there to only observe and answer questions. If the trainer at this point feels that the employee grasps the SOP and is able to complete it then it is time to move on to additional training. Although this method of training can feel arduous and redundant for an employee, training like this will build their confidence in performing a task that may seem difficult for them. Training this way will also ensure that the manufacturing process will continue to be performed to the correct standards. Implementing a training of this type for all complex tasks will give the creator of the SOP trust in the individuals tasked with completing the process in the SOP.

 Let’s take a look at what a standard operating procedure looks like for a process in a business and talk about some of the key points that you will find in an SOP.

  Let’s go through the practice of generating an SOP:

1)   Go through the process yourself of completing the task that needs a SOP.

2)   Write down all steps and processes required to complete that task.

3)   If there are certain measurements critical to completing the task such as volume temperature or time, include this info in the steps.

4)   If there are complex controls or tools in the process include pictures to help further clarify the written steps.

5)   Place notes in the SOP if there are any hazards in the process or safety concerns.

6)   If there are many steps it can be helpful to add a checklist to accompany the SOP.

7)   Once the SOP has been written, seek feedback on it. Have another person read the SOP ask if they could perform the task.

8)   If the feedback is positive implement that SOP by training your employees.

9)   Put the SOP in a binder or place where it is nearby the location where the task is performed.

  This process of putting in the work to create easy to follow operating procedures, will make work better for everyone. An SOP will guide your employees as they do tasks and give them the confidence that will require less oversight by you. This does not mean that an SOP can replace a manager. The true purpose of an SOP is to provide a resource to ensure complex activities can be done correctly by all who perform it. As a business grows and scales new employees will need to learn how to do their job. The better SOP program you have the faster a new employee will be able to work independently.

Software Options Available for Breweries and Distilleries

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

As the craft beverage industry continues to grow, many tech companies are focusing on the needs of breweries and distilleries around the country. There are many benefits to incorporating software into a beverage production business, including reducing human errors, automating repetitive tasks, getting staff organized, harnessing the power of data and ensuring quality control. Software is available for accounting, inventory, packaging, purchasing and scheduling. Breweries and distilleries also use software for sales, quality control and legal compliance. Mobile app software is an option in this industry, as well as all-in-one management software that takes a comprehensive approach and handles various functions. Meanwhile, some producers embrace a more manual process and rely basic spreadsheets and paper recordkeeping.

  So, what are today’s breweries and distilleries using for software, and how are those products working for them? Representatives from two breweries and two distilleries weighed in on this topic and told Beverage Master Magazine about their experiences with software. 

BOSQUE BREWING CO. Albuquerque, New Mexico

  One brewery that Beverage Master connected with on the topic of software is Bosque Brewing Co., which has multiple New Mexico locations in Albuquerque, Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Las Cruces. With a history dating back to 2012, it is one of the largest brewing companies in the state and has grown from a small startup producing 350 barrels the first year to more than 10,000 barrels annually.

Bosque’s production manager Tim Woodward told Beverage Master Magazine that his brewery uses Ekos for inventory and production management. He also uses a few self-built spreadsheets for forecasting, sales and analysis. The brewery handles accounting with separate software not directly tied to Ekos functionality.

  “Bosque has been using Ekos since 2015,” Woodward said. “At the time, it was very affordable and relatively simple to use. The tools in Ekos addressed what we needed most: inventory management. We are able to track inventory, manage orders, invoice sold product, track costs, review pertinent data and oversee production steps with relative ease.”

  But while fully functional, Woodward said he often runs into little “Ekos glitches” that can be frustrating, such as the services being laggy.

  “Cleaner, more functional report systems with intuitive interfaces would be wonderful,” Woodward said. “I pull a lot of data from Ekos on a daily basis, and sometimes manipulating the report parameters to pull accurate data can be cumbersome. Ekos has done a wonderful job developing product planning calendar with drag and drop features, which is very lovely. They have other modules, such as order hub and keg asset tracking, which we do not use or have not found to work with our particular business model but are helpful pieces. Another offering which would be nice is perhaps a more robust server system to support software operation.”

ALVARIUM BEER CO. New Britain, Connecticut

  Nick Palermo, the head brewer of Alvarium Beer Co., told Beverage Master about the software programs his team uses in New Britain, Connecticut. Alvarium launched New Britain’s first microbrewery, founded on the principle of creating an inclusive and communal taproom while revitalizing a historical city.

  On the brewhouse side of things, Alvarium Beer Co. uses Beersmith to fine-tune recipes and DIY templates on Google Sheets for its calendar and brewing schedule, individual brew sheets and inventory of raw materials and packing materials. Alvarium uses Google Drive to store nearly everything related to production, from brew logs to SOP’s, manuals, inventory and supplier contact information.

  “Beersmith is one of the founding tools that many brewers have used in a homebrew or production setting, allowing quick integration and easy ways to edit recipes with something that is fairly familiar and quick to learn,” Palermo said. “We ended up choosing to use Google Sheets and Drive because of the ability for company-wide visibility and editing capabilities.”

  “We are an increasingly growing brewery in Connecticut, and such quick growth over the last couple of years has led to use needing to be able to combat the ebbs and flows of this industry,” he said. “Whether we need to make a quick change to the schedule, edit a recipe from home or have different departments be able to access information without complication, we found our method has been working really well as we expand.”

  “I’d say the biggest challenge we face with our method is the need to manually enter all of our data and make changes in the templates as we see fit,” Palermo said when asked about challenges with Alvarium’s current software. “Lack of auto-entered data does take up a little more time when it comes to keeping track with inventory and can lead to some mistakes.”

  In the future, Palermo would like to see more flexible software plans for different brewery sizes and needs, with costs to match. He said that having a method to integrate software programs more easily into companies with a system in place or smaller staffing structures would also be helpful.

  Cherokee Robbins, the director of sales for Alvarium, told Beverage Master Magazine about software this brewery uses for other purposes.

  Robbins said that Alvarium uses Google Business software, such as Gmail and Google Drive for recordkeeping, Google Sheets for reporting and inventory and Google Docs and Google Calendar for events, appointments and employee schedules. She says these pieces of software are user-friendly, easy to access and meet requirements for digital storage. Alvarium uses Untapped for Business to store information about brewed beers, to allow customers to view beers and check in and to use the menu board to list available products. Robbins said this software is user-friendly and great for keeping track of customer reviews, archiving past beers and helping other businesses find products.

  Alvarium uses Square POS in the taproom for on-premise and online transactions. The team likes this software because it is easy to add, customize and categorize items with an online store that is set up as an extension for customers to shop. However, she has noticed that sometimes items can “disappear” in Square POS, or if they are intentionally hidden, customers can still find them online and order something that is no longer available. After experimenting with various email marketing platforms, the brewery uses Mailchimp for analytics and to monitor communications with its customer base. However, sometimes these emails have ended up in spam folders even after the team has certified and legitimized its domains.

  After interviewing approximately nine different CRM/ERP-related software companies, InSitu hit the four major categories of importance for Alvarium’s sales and distribution team: QBE integration for accounting, inventory management, mileage tracking and logistics for sales routes and customer relations.

“This is a relatively newer software for us, as we started using this in February of this year,” Robbins said. “There is much to learn with all of its functions, but there are times when we may have delayed connectivity issues with its integration to our QBE. Our account representative has been great with staying in communication and finding resolutions for us when we need help, so that is a huge plus. Sometimes support teams with software can be hard to get in touch with when you need something fixed right away.”

  Other types of software the Alvarium team uses include Adobe Illustrator for signage and labels, Canva for business cards and marketing and QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise for accounting and payroll. It uses Prolific as its delivery-routing software to optimize routes for delivery drivers with self-distribution, Eezycloud’s remote desktop for multiple users to access QBE and Workable and Glassdoor for job postings and recruiting.

  When asked what she would like to see in future brewery software offerings, Robbins said, “It would be ideal if all of the platforms we use can be lumped into one software for a brewery our size, especially because we have a hybrid business model with the taproom, self-distribution and now working with a wholesaler. I know there are options like Encompass or Lily Pad available, but those can be pricey and are geared more towards larger distribution networks. I have also heard of a few software platforms that other breweries have worked on creating themselves in the past few years that fit close to what we ideally would need, but there seems to be an important element missing such as integration to QBE, delivery routing software logistics or the CRM portion for our sales force.”

MUDDY RIVER DISTILLERY Belmont, North Carolina

  Caroline Delaney, co-owner and CFO of Muddy River Distillery, told Beverage Master Magazine how her company approaches software in Belmont, North Carolina. Muddy River is the oldest rum distillery in the Carolinas and launched in 2011 with 500 square feet of space in an old textile mill before growing its production from 35 bottles per day to more than 1,200.

  Delaney said that her distillery uses QuickBooks for accounting and payroll and Square for POS and retail sales. She noted that QuickBooks is straightforward for day-to-day accounting, and Square has the lowest credit card processing rates without a monthly fee. She was familiar with QuickBooks from previous companies and says while it can be limiting, the next step up in accounting software is much more expensive, and most offerings require contracts.

  Yet running sales reports with multiple customers, states and distributors can be tricky and lengthy, she said, plus QuickBooks raised its payroll fees this year.

  “It seems like once you are signed up with Whiskey Systems or similar systems, they have all your data and it would be hard to switch back or to another software,” she said. “And the monthly fees are quite a bit higher than POS systems, so that will add up. Since we were pretty limited here in North Carolina, we weren’t able to sell unlimited bottles and cocktails until late 2019. We are under construction on a building where we will actually have a bar and event space, so I am looking into changing payroll and POS systems.”

  Delaney shared that Muddy River Distillery does not use distilling software for federal reports but that her husband, Robbie, developed his own system for that purpose and is still using it with the distillery’s production manager. 

  “I know he has spoken to some of the companies, but has not made the switch because of the monthly fees and not wanting to get into a system and get stuck with them,” she said.

STILL 630 St. Louis, Missouri

  Another spirits producer that shared details about its software usage with us is Still 630, which makes award-winning, handcrafted spirits in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. David Weglarz, the owner and distiller of Still 630, uses as many organic, local ingredients as possible in his spirits, with an old-world double distillation method that captures all the flavors while consistently embracing the adventure of experimentation. 

  Weglarz told Beverage Master Magazine that he uses Google software for his distillery’s spreadsheets and recordkeeping. He chose this option and still likes it because it is free and not localized to just one computer that could be damaged.

  “It allows us to edit simultaneously from different locations, and since it’s not based on one physical computer, it’s more safely guarded against a catastrophic loss,” he said.

  However, Weglarz acknowledged that Google Docs and spreadsheets are not specifically built for distilleries, so challenges have inevitably occurred while using this strategy.

  “It’s just an excel-type format so I had to build my own spreadsheets to make it work correctly,” he said. “But I did that, and now I have my own personal distillery software. It’s certainly not as fancy and sleek as the pre-packaged software solutions, but it works and the price (free) is right!”

  In the future, Weglarz would like to see more cost-effective software options offered in the distillery industry. He says that his distillery is priced out at the moment, something many craft beverage producers can likely relate to.

Conclusions and Opportunities

  Based on our conversations with craft beverage producers across the U.S., a few things stand out about what is working for software and where improvements can be made. In general, craft beverage producers are pleased with user-friendly software that offers multiple applications, features analytics to optimize processes and gives multiple users access to shared data. Affordability is paramount for craft beverage producers, and if software seems too costly, they often settle for free solutions that require more manual entry and monitoring despite the extra labor and risks.

  There is a need and demand for software for small breweries and distilleries with limited budgets and modest distribution networks. Many current solutions cater to large operations and are financially out of reach for smaller and emerging businesses. Integration is important to brewers and distillers, yet many of these businesses feel that they understand their needs better than what any software provider could provide and prefer to take a DIY approach, creating their own internal systems to get the job done internally. Therefore, there are significant opportunities for software companies to focus on the basics and adjust their offerings with tiered options to connect with breweries and distilleries in mutually beneficial ways.

Cheers to New Beginnings

How Start-Up Distilleries Can Get It Right the First Time

By: Cheryl Gray

Starting a new distillery can be a daunting task. Failing to do it properly will inevitably cost the owner time and money.  

  The industry is flush with experts to guide start-up distilleries in the right direction when it comes to equipment, building, layout, local health regulations and environmental requirements – virtually everything to consider when launching a well-tooled distillery.

  Few companies know better what a start-up distillery requires than VITOK Engineers, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. The global consulting engineering firm, launched in 1967, offers a singular source for multiple engineering disciplines and targets a wide range of chemical plants and manufacturing facilities, including distilleries.

  In its early days, VITOK Engineers was local. Still, its engineering expertise was far-reaching, with a client list that the company says included the United States Navy, for which VITOK designed and built CO2 scrubbers for the Navy’s nuclear submarines. By the mid-1980s, new leadership at the company introduced the distilling industry to VITOK, which already had a solid foundation for the design of a complete chemical processing facility. In the 40 years since, VITOK touts a solid reputation for designing and optimizing every aspect of distillery production, with more than 500 distillery projects sprawled across the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Africa. The projects range in size from small craft distilleries to more established facilities and some of the world’s largest and most recognized distilleries that manufacture up to 50 million proof gallons per year.

  CJ Archer is Vice President of Marketing for VITOK Engineers and has been with the company for nearly two decades. As an electrical and controls engineer licensed in more than 20 states and the Caribbean, Archer points out what sets VITOK apart from its competitors.

  “What sets VITOK Engineers apart from other companies is our ability to serve all engineering disciplines within our organization,” he said. “Continuity and flow of information between engineering disciplines is important for the successful completion of a large project.”

  Archer says that with distillery start-ups, it is important to gather critical information up front, beginning with what kind of spirits the distillery will produce and the proof gallon output the client desires.

  “Our engineers will then produce a Process Flow Diagram (PFD),” he said. “This helps to determine the vessel sizing, pump sizing, still size, boiler size and chillers.”

  The next steps, Archer says, are evaluating current infrastructure, such as available sewage, water and power, to help determine any additional power distribution equipment, water treatment or RO requirements that may be needed.

  “This PFD and supplemental infrastructure equipment will reveal the size, scale and types of equipment. From there, our staff can calculate and perform a Total Installed Capital Cost Estimate for the facility.

  VITOK Engineers can design and optimize every element of the beverage distillation process, from the receipt of raw materials to the proofing and bottling. Our staff can design the process, specify the equipment, design the building, define classified areas, specify and design instrumentation and controls and program the controllers, even tablets. We can also help you with the intricacies of environmental permitting.

  Our depth of experience enables us to provide clients with an expansive overview of projects, as well as a unique, cross-disciplined perspective on the design process. As an employee-owned company, the staff members of VITOK take a vital interest in building loyal client relationships. We are constantly striving to improve our services and technology while providing cost-effective solutions for project challenges,” he said.

  Archer points out other equipment and protocols distilleries can deploy to optimize production. Examples include automated control instrumentation, which serves the dual purpose of standardizing the process and freeing up labor. Another factor to consider is achieving maximum energy efficiency, which saves money. Archer explains that this means distillers will want to know if they can achieve an energy benefit from chillers, versus a cooling tower or aquifers. Examining the mash cooling systems and techniques are also on the checklist. Distillers may want to look at introducing solar to enhance so-called “green” branding, which Archer says is not a significant increase or decrease to the overall cost of implementation.

  Another point Archer mentions is installing power efficiency equipment to help save on energy costs. The power efficiency equipment helps distilleries coordinate with utility and correct for any apparent power overages. Also, comparing continuous operation, versus batch operation, as potential energy savings is another area to consider. Finally, Archer says that examining the number of shifts, timing and staging process of operations can help improve energy efficiency.

Another expert company that assists distilleries with installing equipment for both short- and long-term use is Trench Drain Systems, which manufactures and distributes drainage systems for distilleries, wineries and breweries. Engineer Michael Schroer started Trench Drain Systems in the basement of his home in 2004, selling only about three products. By 2017, the company had purchased a 10-acre property with office and warehouse space large enough to service a clientele that now spreads throughout all 50 states, Canada and the Caribbean. Schroer explains why his firm is different from others in the industry. 

  “When buying a drain system for your distillery, winery or brewery, you will most likely have to go through a distributor who interfaces with a manufacturer,” he said. “Your distributor usually won’t have the knowledge base to cover all the particularities of the drain and its installation. Trench Drain Systems is both a distributor and manufacturer of drainage systems. We have a full understanding of all brands of drainage systems. We can make custom drains when needed. We have a full engineering department and provide drawings for your installation, something that a distributor doesn’t do. In short, we are specialists in drainage systems. We have the flexibility to handle many product lines while being able to customize your drain when needed.”

  Schroer describes what key steps his company takes in helping new distilleries make the right choices when it comes to installing a drainage system that meets specific needs. 

  “I like to start this discussion by asking who owns the property where the project is being done. The reason being, if that facility is rented, the process is going to be a five-year project, and if the owners see themselves going to another location that they will own, the trench drain can be downgraded a bit. There will be differences in the drain channel chemistry, in general, when we are speaking about the drains of beer vs. wine vs. distillate manufacturing.  

  However, if you have a five-year lease on a building and have to foot the bill for the trench drain, consider a drain that will last as long as you need it. When you get into phase two of your project, where you own the building, it makes sense to have a longer vision for the drain design. That includes having a system that will handle the rough and tumble start-up period when construction equipment may be involved. It also is good to look at your future development when you may want to showcase your process and change your look from something industrial but practical to something more commercial or customer-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

  After that detail is revealed, we need to consider the temperature and chemical demands of the process on the trench drain system. Breweries are the most demanding on drains, as they have high-temperature solutions and a wide range of chemicals that are put into the drain. And breweries will have differing drainage needs in different parts of the facility, depending on how the consumer will interface with the operation. Wineries and distillates don’t see the high volume of daily cleaning and temperatures as does a brewery. They generally don’t need drain systems that have high-service demands. Generally, these facilities have a lower drain budget unless the owner is going for an aesthetic, which costs more,” he said.

  Yet another company that helps new and existing distilleries make critical equipment choices for the long and short term is Della Toffola Group. Headquartered in Italy but supported in the United States by Della Toffola USA in Santa Rosa, California, the company positions itself as a global frontrunner in designing and manufacturing state-of-the-art technology solutions for a wide range of beverage products. Della Toffola recently entered the distillery market by acquiring Frilli Srl, another worldwide company founded in 1912 that specializes in designing, building and refitting distilleries and distillation systems.

  Experts agree that careful equipment planning is the key to a successful operation, no matter the size of a distillery or whether it is a start-up or a more established production house. Those experts also agree that success begins with a thorough consultation with a company that respects a distillery’s immediate needs and what it will take for the operation to expand.

What Beverage Producers Should Know About Hoses and Tubes 

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

Hoses and tubes are used for various purposes in a craft beverage production setting, including transferring liquids, washing containers and connecting essential pieces of equipment. Over time, this equipment can begin to show signs of wear and tear, or it can cease to be adequate for growing operations during times of expansion.

  Industry experts from companies specializing in these products weigh in on what breweries and distilleries should know about hoses, tubes and related accessories, plus how to choose the right options for your business.

Hoses and Tubes for Breweries

  Breweries benefit from using specific hoses to transfer and mix liquids at various levels and avoid contamination risks. All-in-one brewery hoses can be used to brew multiple beverages and eliminate manual labor tasks from mixing and transferring. Crimped hose fittings, clamps, gaskets, mounting bridges and hose barbs are hose accessories that help clean and maintain brewery vats and barrels.

  The most common materials used in brewery hoses are chlorobutyl, FDA UHMW, PVC, nitrile, silicone, EPDM and Teflon. Chlorobutyl hoses are common in brewery settings because they meet sanitary compliance standards and are ideal for non-oily applications and clean-in-place tasks. Yet it is crucial to ensure that the hoses you use can withstand specific temperature ranges and pressures. A food-grade, temperature-insulated, pressure-rated, 1.5-inch insulated brewer’s hose will accomplish many brewery tasks. But you might also look into highly rated hoses for resistance if they are placed in a high-traffic area where the hose could become kinked, twisted, or crushed. Tubing connects large components in a brewery to send waste products outside the production area.

Hoses and Tubes for Distilleries

  Craft spirit distilleries also use hoses to transfer products safely, hygienically and in a way that ensures excellent taste. Distillery hoses must meet industry sanitary requirements and FDA and USDA certifications. It is beneficial to use hoses specially designed for suctioning and delivering alcohol up to 96 percent.

  Clear tube hoses help ensure quality and cleanliness, and specific distillery hoses are designed to be odorless, so as not to alter the spirits’ taste. A higher working temperature allows for steam sterilization after use. Using hoses with a chlorobutyl or UHMWPE tube and EPDM cover in a distillery setting is common. Distilleries may want to look for kink-proof and compression-resistant hose and tube products to maintain flexibility under cold temperatures.

Alliance Hose & Rubber Co. Offerings

  One company that specializes in this industry is Alliance Hose & Rubber Co., an Elmhurst, Illinois-based company that has been providing construction and industrial supply products since 1932. It serves a variety of industries, including beverage, chemical, transportation and construction, with products that include industrial hoses, flexible tubing, couplings and fittings. Rob Williams, the sales manager for Alliance Hose, told Beverage Master about how craft breweries and distilleries use his company’s products.

  “We currently serve breweries in multiple ways,” Williams said. “One way is custom-cut and coupled hose systems, including a product hose, chemical hose, washdown and tubing to mate with the variety of connection options available, standard and special fittings, pumps and hose reels. Alliance Hose also serves breweries, distilleries and wineries with education on product knowledge and safety in person, at conferences and through webinars and podcasts.”

  He said nearly all Alliance Hose’s beverage products are also used in distilleries.

  “We do focus on the right hose for the distilling process, from front-end mash to the final high-proof product to be transferred,” Williams said. “Distilleries vary on what they like to use best. We just like to share insights and any additional knowledge that will help make their final product the best it can be.”

Kuriyama Offerings

  Another industry leader in industrial hoses, couplings and accessories is Kuriyama of America, Inc., which opened for business in 1968 and is located in Schaumburg, Illinois. The Kuriyama of America group of companies has eight subsidiaries and six distribution centers. It works through numerous distributors to provide thermoplastic, rubber and metal hose products and accessories, including couplings and fittings, for commercial and industrial applications.

  Tim O’Neill, marketing manager for Kuriyama, told Beverage Master Magazine that his company is best known for its high-purity, food-grade Kuri Tec® brand, clear vinyl hose and tubing products within the brewing industry. Most breweries use clear vinyl tubing, and Kuri Tec is a popular choice because it effectively maintains the purity of the materials that  the hose and tubing are made from. He explained that to ensure a high standard of quality and purity, Kuri Tec hose and tubing meet a wide range of safety standards, such as FDA, USDA, 3-A, NSF and USPS Class VI. To ensure compliance with these standards, Kuri Tec makes its own materials to manufacture its hoses and tubing, allowing for complete quality control.

  “An important consideration brewers should keep in mind when purchasing hoses and tubing is to understanding the difference between products that are simply considered ‘food grade’ and ones that are considered “high purity.” Often, brewers will hear the term ‘food grade’ and assume the hose will meet all their needs. However, the term only implies the product meets the basic standards of the FDA CFR 21 for food contact safety. It does not ensure the hose will not impart taste or smell on the ingredients or beer that pass through.”

  O’Neill said that the 3-A Sanitary Hygienic Standard, which originally started as a quality standard for the dairy industry, is quickly gaining acceptance in the brewery industry as the standard of choice to ensure the safety and purity of transferred materials. 

  “The 3-A standard defines additional criteria, such as ensuring low-extraction materials, as well as ensuring cleanability by reducing areas where materials can become stuck, potentially resulting in bacterial growth. Hoses, fittings and assemblies meeting the various 3-A Sanitary Standards have become a requirement at many craft and commercial breweries.”

  More recently, Kuriyama introduced a rubber “vat to vat” transfer hose under the Aflagomma® brand, called “The Brewt™.” In addition to meeting the 3-A standard for rubber purity, the hose provides a more flexible alternative to the heavy rubber hoses commonly used at larger breweries.

  “We found a lot of the smaller breweries were using the same heavy rubber hoses initially designed for larger commercial breweries,” said O’Neill. “The Brewt was designed to exhibit a similar ability to withstand the dragging and high-temperature cleaning to which these hoses are exposed, but to be light and flexible enough to work well in smaller craft breweries that may have space limitations.”

Common Hose Issues Among

Breweries and Distilleries

  Williams from Alliance Hose told Beverage Master Magazine that the most common problems that breweries and distilleries encounter with their hoses all relate to safety. These problems include pressure and temperature issues, trip hazards and finding the proper hose, tube and fitting for a particular application. These problems exist with product, gas and chemical transfers.

  “We address these needs by asking the right questions and recommending the safest option for that particular application,” Williams said. “We are not a click-of-the-mouse and a shopping cart. We ask questions and connect on a personal level with the beverage community. Concern for our customers safety and quality of their product is a high priority.”

Choosing the Right

Hoses and Accessories

  There are certain questions that brewery or distillery owners should ask themselves when buying a new hose. Williams from Alliance Hose uses the acronym STAMPED to get essential information from customers and provide the correct hoses and fittings for the application.

S    (size) What is the hose I.D./O.D. and length needed?

T    (temperature) What is the max fluid temperature inside the tube? What is the external atmosphere temperature?

A    (application) Where and how is the hose or tubing being used? What are the surrounding conditions?

M   (media) What is going through the hose or tube?

P    (pressure) Pressure product is being conveyed?

E    (ends) What fittings are required to make the connection?

D    (delivery) When do you want the hose or tube?

  “If we don’t have all the information we need, we will press in to gather those details as they are important to the hose system and overall brewing process,” Williams said.

  While discussing the topic of craft beverage hoses and tubes with industry experts, we found that there are few, if any, new technologies or innovations for brewers and distillers to be aware of. These are well-established and reliable products that get the job done, but there are differences in product quality and customer service to keep in mind.

  “I recommend talking to a hose professional instead of just relying on e-commerce to provide you what you think you may need,” said Williams from Alliance Hose. “I’m always available to talk product knowledge and especially safety.”

  O’Neill from Kuriyama said that the most important thing a brewery or distillery can do is ensure they have a good local hose supplier they trust to provide them with the right product for their needs.

  “The difference between using the right hose and one not best suited for a particular application can result in premature hose failures, causing lost production time,” O’Neill said. “Having a hose supplier that will understand your particular needs, rather than simply providing whatever hose they happen to have on the shelf, will improve overall operations.”

Go BIG or Go Home

Selecting the Right Size Still for Your Distillery

By: Kris Bohm of Distillery Now Consulting

The craft distilling movement is growing larger every day in North america. In 2003 there were approximately 60 operating distilleries in the USA. Fast forward to today and there are over 2200 active distilleries. When it comes to starting a distillery one daunting challenge every business owner faces is equipment selection. Selecting equipment is often done by forecasting demand. Without any sales history this forecast is tricky to create. Most folks go about deciding what equipment to buy based on budget and what kind of quantities of spirits are expected to be sold. If you ask almost any distillery owner if they are using the same size equipment they started on they would tell you no. Nearly every established distillery has needed to add on additional equipment or sell their existing equipment to bring in larger equipment to meet demand. Selecting the right size equipment is a critical decision, which I would like to help you make. To better inform you let’s explore common equipment sizes and examples of distilleries expanding.

  The first question often asked by a new business in planning is how large of a still do I need?

The answer to this question will not be the same for any two people. Instead of trying to provide a definitive answer let’s talk about the potential output of different size stills. To first define the potential output it is essential to decide on product line up. The still used to distill rum is very different from that for vodka production. If you are planning to distill gin, you certainly do not want to use the same still for distilling whiskey. What I can tell you with certainty is that you will outgrow a homemade 50 gallon still before you even open the doors of your distillery to the public. Let’s also explore the potential output of stills to compare and contrast their potential capacity.

  A 100 gallon still often much less expensive than larger stills and is the size selected by some start up distilleries that are starting lean. A still of this size can only produce small quantities of distilled spirits at a commercial scale. Further a 100 gallon still requires considerable time spent in labor operating it with not very good returns for the labor. Although a 100 gallon still is going to be less expensive than bigger stills, it is likely that demand for spirits will outstrip the capacity of a still of this size quickly.

  A 500 gallon still has the capacity to produce a solid amount of distilled spirits. In fact a 500 gallon pot still is one of the most common size stills you will find in new craft distilleries. A still this size has the capacity to produce 2 barrels of whiskey per day if well managed. This is plenty of whiskey for a startup distillery. Depending on your business model a 500 gallon still may provide plenty of capacity for several years. A strong successful distillery will likely outgrow the capacity of this still within 5 years.

  Continuous column stills are measured based on column size diameter For simplicity we will call them column stills in this paper. An 18 inch column still will process 9 gallons per minute of wash. This means on a given work day this still has the capacity to produce up to 25 full size barrels of whiskey in a single day. As you can gather, this is vastly more efficient than a pot still.

For a column still to operate it will take a sizable quantity of mash to produce this much whiskey and therein lies the largest challenge for a small distillery. To grow into running a continuous column still requires immense resources in capital and real estate compared to a column still.  A distillery running a column still will need much larger, cookers, fermentors, heating and cooling capacity then is commonly utilized when operating a pot still.

  For many established distilleries who are selling a decent volume of spirits the addition of another pot still may not be the best choice to increase the production of your distillery. For many whiskey producing distilleries the logical leap is to grow your production by adding a continuous column still. If the intent of your distillery is to be a regional or multistate distributed business a column still might be your best choice.

Lets Look at Two Examples of Growth in a Distillery

  At Grand Canyon Distillery they launched their business in 2017 with a single 250 gallon still. With goals to produce grain to glass bourbon, single malt whiskey, vodka, rum and gin. These ambitious plans and diverse portfolio quickly stretched the limits of their production capacity very early on. Within 9 months of launching their spirits the distillery worked out a large distribution deal that landed them in nearly every liquor store and grocery store in Arizona. If the distillery was going to meet their growing demand for white spirits there would be almost no room to distill whiskey to age. With whiskey being the primary long term goal, an expansion of equipment was needed. To increase capacity Grand Canyon added additional distilling equipment far sooner than anyone expected. With the addition of a 500 gallon still to support the demand for production, the folks at Grand Canyon got back on track to be able to distill enough product to meet demand. Only 3 years after the second still was added to their equipment Grand Canyon added a 3rd still to increase capacity even further.

  At Finger Lakes Distilling they launched their distillery in 2008 with a single Holstein pot still.

Only 3 year after launching the distillery had outgrown their capacity to produce enough whiskey to meet demand. Finger Lakes took a big step up in production and added a 12” column still new cooker and larger fermentors to their equipment lineup. With the addition of this still Finger Lakes Distilling had increased their capacity 10 times. In the 10 years since they added this column still the distillery has consistently been able to meet demand with a much lower labor cost per proof gallon produced. In this example the addition of a column still allowed Finger Lakes to gradually increase their production without the limitations that come with a pot still.

  As new distilleries move from establishing their foothold in local markets to growing state wide and beyond. A strong growth in demand will often follow this growth in territory. In many instances especially with whiskey the demand will outstrip supply and action must be taken to increase production. For anyone who has been to any of the bigger distilleries in Kentucky or Tennessee, you would have seen that every big distillery operates a continuous column still for whiskey production. A continuous column still is vastly more efficient on many levels. Continuous columns have much larger output per labor hour and use much less energy than a pot still per proof gallon produced. Stepping up from using a pot still to a continuous column still is a logical evolution and is a step that nearly every whiskey producer will make at some point when they reach a certain size.

Carbon Dioxide & Nitrogen Play Important Roles in Craft Beverage Production

By: Gerald Dlubala

The production, delivery and packaging of beer and the use of gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N2) are inseparable. But because CO2 is also a natural byproduct of the brewing process, monitoring its levels during and in the delivery of draught beer is critical. Carbon dioxide has flavor characteristics that could cause your beer to undergo flavor changes if left unmonitored. Additionally, if pressures are left unchecked and become too low in the draught beer delivery system, the CO2 is allowed to leave the beer, causing the pour to be flat. Conversely, too high CO2 pressure results in over-carbonation, causing flavor flaws and a foamy pour. Either problem causes increased product usage and waste, increasing the brewery’s costs and decreasing an already thin profit margin.

Inline CO2 Sensors: Mettler-Toledo, LLC

  Dissolved CO2 sensors are inline sensors that continuously monitor dissolved CO2 in numerous applications, including the beer brewing process. Using dissolved CO2 sensors allows brewers to monitor key quality attributes of their product, ensuring a consistent product and all-important mouthfeel to their craft beers.

  Mettler Toledo offers its InPro5500i inline sensors, thermal conductivity sensors optimized for brewing quality control and monitoring the carbonation levels of the beer. The InPro5500i line uses digital technology to simplify handling, provide durable performance and offer increased product life, reducing lifetime sensor costs.

  Additional benefits and characteristics of Mettler-Toledo’s inline sensors include the following:

•   Helping the brewer maintain consistency and overall beverage quality control

•   Sensors are manufactured with a food grade, hygienic, intelligent design and diagnostics

•   The use of proven technology to accurately provide trusted CO2 measurement

•   Maintenance predictability

•   Process connection compatibility, available with three process connections: Variant Type N, TriClamp 2 inch and 29 mm with cap nut M42

For more information on Mettler-Toledo’s CO2 sensors, visit www.mt.com/analytical

Nitrogen Dosing for Shelf Life, Stability and Packaging Excellence: Vacuum Barrier Corporation

  While the applications for nitrogen dosing in the beverage industry have remained consistent, the products that benefit from being dosed have and will continue to grow. Cannabis-based beverages, the dramatic growth and variety of available RTD (ready-to-drink) cocktails and all nitro-style beers, coffees and teas benefit from nitrogen dosing in one way or another. Through its preservation and pressurization qualities, nitrogen dosing has allowed the explosion of new and flavorful RTDs to be distributed on a widespread basis to more markets. Pressurizing a can or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottle with nitrogen adds stability to the container, allowing for easier, more efficient and effective stacking and shipping. Additionally, the fact that nitrogen is inert and will not react with other substances or ingredients makes it ideal for use in beverage applications and industry because it doesn’t impact the aroma or flavor of the packaged liquid.

  “Adding a nitrogen doser to a filling line is a pretty simple process,” said Jim Fallon, international sales manager for Vacuum Barrier Corporation (VBC). “Our VBC dosers are designed to be bolt-on additions to a filler, with no requirement for complicated electrical or control integration. After determining the proper application for dosing, meaning pressurization, inerting or nitrogenating, the next step is to find the optimal location on the filler for installation. VBC application engineers also determine the appropriate dosing unit based on the available filler space, the brewer’s line speeds and the dimensions of the container that the brewer is using. Then, along with the doser, sensors and control panel, all that’s needed to start dosing is your power supply or compressed air supply, depending on the models used.”

  Fallon tells Beverage Master Magazine that the optimal amount of nitrogen dosing recommended for any application is found by looking at the associated needs.

  “In the beverage industry, these applications vary from pressurizing non-carbonated drinks for container rigidity to purging oxygen from the headspace for extended shelf life and nitrogenating a cold brew coffee or beer,” said Fallon. “VBC engineers collect necessary details about the container volume and dimensions, fill heights, line speeds and the brewery’s target specifications and goals. Equipped with that information, we can guide customers to the appropriate settings to ensure the dose is sized properly and, just as importantly, makes it into the container in a timely and consistent manner.”

  Fallon says that for many years, the only new advances in nitrogen dosing had to do with the availability of increased dosing speeds. But today, VBC dosing units can consistently and reliably dose up to 2,000 containers a minute, more than enough for most filling lines. Because of this achievement, VBC was allowed to shift its focus on advancing and improving the reliability and ease of adjustability of its dosers.

  “We’ve continued to build out the functionality of our Servodoser that we initially released in 2016,” said Fallon. “We’ve reduced the parts prone to wear along with maintenance needs of the long-life servo actuator, which has a cycle life into the billions. In addition, a servomotor on the valve stem allows for dose amount adjustment without changing any mechanical parts. These improvements reduce downtime and allow on-the-fly adjustment of dosing parameters. Vacuum Barrier’s modular aseptic dosing systems are quickly becoming the go-to design with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) fillers integrating aseptic filling lines.”

  For more information on Vacuum Barrier Corporation and nitrogen dosing, visit www.vacuumbarrier.com

Gas Blenders for Draught Beer Delivery Solutions: McDantim, Inc

  To successfully dispense draught beer, you need pressure, and that necessary pressure generally goes unnoticed until something goes wrong. As far back as the early 1800s, that pressure was supplied by compressed air, but as all brewers know, oxygen doesn’t play well with beer. The solution to this dilemma was to use CO2, which was good unless you tried to use 100 percent CO2 in draught beer delivery systems that needed to push the beer over long distances from huge brite tanks that were only safety-rated for up to 15 pounds of pressure. Unfortunately, increasing pressure to push more beer only puts the tank over the intended safety rating or puts the brewer at risk of over-carbonating the beer.

  But by using blended CO2 and nitrogen gas technology in the appropriate amounts, breweries and taprooms can maintain and balance their beer storage and delivery systems to ensure the integrity of their draught beers glass after glass, maintaining product integrity without losing any quality of taste, aroma or mouthfeel, just as the brewer intended. However, premixed cylinders were found to be expensive and generally offered the wrong blend for the beer industry. McDantim Gas Blending Technologies was the first company to introduce a gas blender that was technically sound enough and appropriate for the beer industry. 

  “It started in the late 1980s,” said Kayla Mann, sales and marketing director for McDantim, Inc. “McDantim’s previous owner’s father was approached by Guinness to develop an on-site gas dispenser. Unfortunately, industrial blenders wouldn’t work well because they couldn’t handle low-flow needs. So, McDantim devised a blender optimized for low flow rates to ensure that the beer secured in your keg or brite tank is the same beer dispensed into the glass for your thirsty customers. Our goal is to improve draught beer consistently and continuously worldwide.”

  Mann said that McDantim Trumix® Blenders are generally maintenance-free, with a plug-and-play mentality that demands no electricity or cumbersome maintenance schedules.

  “The goal here is to set it and forget it,” said Mann. “Brewery or taproom managers already have enough on their plate without having to worry about gas blending. Trumix® Blenders are easy to install and set up with regulators and can be nestled in wherever a brewer decides to locate their gas storage. All our products are customizable for different CO2 and nitrogen blending needs, so no matter what beer you are brewing and serving, you’ll get what you need. We use six eager and local breweries as our testing grounds with our products, so we receive real-life and real-time situational help to ensure our blenders and products do what breweries need them to do. Our custom-configured blender solutions improve efficiency and decrease waste and are based on useable volume, including the length of delivery lines, the number of available taps and servers and the forecasted number of kegs per hour you can expect to use at any given time. It comes down to how many servers will be drawing out of how many taps simultaneously. Busy, large taprooms with several servers that stay busy for lengthy amounts of time will need a higher flow rate than the smaller craft breweries.”

  Mann tells Beverage Master Magazine that McDantim also offers a free downloadable app that can be used anywhere within the depths of a brewery because it needs no internet connection.

  “We’re all about education to improve the quality of the draft beer industry across the board,” said Mann. “The app is there for you to know what blend of gases is optimal for the beer you are producing or if you are struggling with pressure or specific lines. We can easily walk you through the app and teach you how it can help and improve your draught beer. It’s just another tool for everyone from the beginner through the seasoned professional, and it is valuable for those that may be hesitant to ask for help as well.”

Conditions included in the calculations are:

•    The beverage temperature in the keg.

•    The required keg pressure.

•    The CO2 content of the beverage.

•    Elevation above sea level.

•    The gas blend (CO2 percentage) of existing blender.

Your input conditions help determine the following:

•     The optimal CO2/N2 blend for your specific location and conditions.

•     What range of pressures you can safely apply to your beverages for optimal carbonation.

•     Easy U.S. and metric unit conversions.

•     The predicted CO2 content that will be maintained under unusual conditions, like high elevation production.

Additionally, McDantim’s free gas blend app includes helpful calculators for other areas of your draught beer process, including these:

•    The cost analysis calculator provides insight into how on-site gas blending with Trumix® blenders can save you money.

•    The gas usage calculator will forecast and determine how many kegs of beer you can expect to dispense using Trumix® Blenders or premixed cylinder gas.

•    The line restriction calculator helps brewers with their draught system design to get the correct restriction values to keep the beer from under or over-carbonation.

  McDantim’s Trumix® Blenders can be used equally well with all clean CO2 and nitrogen sources, including high-pressure cylinders, bulk tanks and separators. 

To contact McDantim or get more information on gas blenders, visit www.mcdantim.com

More Than a Pretty Face

Image Is Important, but so is Safety and Productivity

By: Cheryl Gray

While attractive packaging can draw new business for craft brewers, protecting what’s inside that packaging can make or break the bottom line. The same detailed attention is required to move products to store shelves swiftly. Fortunately, there are companies with specializations in each of these production areas.

  Among them is Industrial Physics, a test and inspection company considered to be a global leader in its field. Industrial Physics operates across a wide range of testing brands, each cornering a specialty. Those brands include CMC-KUHNKE, Steinfurth, Quality By Vision, Eagle Vision and TQC Sheen. Although it offers its customers multiple options, the company has a singular purpose: to guard the integrity of brands and products for manufacturers, production lines and laboratories across multiple industries worldwide.

  Steve Davis is the global product line director at Industrial Physics. He leads a team of experts who ensure that the company’s equipment protects the integrity of its customers’ metal packaging. Davis brings more than 20 years of engineering experience, with particular expertise in designing and developing metal packaging testing systems. He describes how Industrial Physics provides practical solutions for breweries large and small.

  “From seam inspection to label inspection, leak detection, code reading and abrasion testing, we’re here to protect the integrity of our customer’s beverage product.”

  Industrial Physics offers 40 testing applications and 2,500 products for a vast array of manufacturers, including breweries. Davis explains how the company leverages industry leadership to benefit its brewery clients:

  “The power and versatility of Industrial Physics allow us to support a broad range of breweries all over the world. And that really sets us apart from any other test and inspection provider. No matter the size of your brewery or the type of test you need to conduct, we can support you.

  The equipment allows organizations to test across a multitude of applications. Whether that’s ensuring that a can containing a fizzy drink won’t leak or that a cardboard box is strong enough to survive the turbulence of transit, the solutions are extremely diverse. We have a wealth of solutions available for the beverage space. From bottles to cans and kegs, we support beverage manufacturers of all sizes.

  But we don’t just provide equipment. At Industrial Physics, we’re equipped with some of the world’s finest minds within the world of beverage packaging and metal packaging. With an unrivaled portfolio of products that span so many specialties, we speak with our customers to ensure they’re discovering a solution that is suitable for their unique needs. With our equipment, we can help customers take their production and testing to the next level by investing in an instrument that will allow them to enhance their current setup and ultimately grow their offering by reducing waste and costs significantly.

  We also offer service solutions for our instruments, supporting customers with installation, calibration, preventative maintenance and repairs. No matter where you are in the world, we have local experts on the ground who can support your needs to ensure your instruments are operating efficiently.”

  One of the Industrial Physics brands is CMC KUHNKE. Davis describes its versatile options, all designed to save time and money:

  “Whether you’re a small brewery needing a compact and cost-effective solution like our useful CMC-KUHNKE seam saw, or a global giant within the world of beer looking for a more advanced, automated solution such as our CMC-KUHNKE Auto XTS, we can help you with this and everything in between!”

  Safeguarding the integrity of brewery products requires thought in every step of production. When it comes to keeping production lines moving swiftly and efficiently, Custom Conveyor Concepts promises to meet the needs of virtually any brewery. Matthew Gill, a co-founder of the company, has been in the packaging industry for some 40 years, working various floor positions before moving into management, sales and consulting. Gill explains how Custom Conveyor Concepts evolved:

  “In terms of the number of years in business, we are relatively new, as we were founded in 2015. However, Custom Conveyor Concepts (CCC) was formed after having been producing conveyors for more than 10 years for Exchange Team Advantage (ETA) and their customers. ETA was founded in 2005 as a used equipment supplier and OEM rep for virtually all aspects of liquid and powder packaging – depalletizing/unscrambling, filling, capping, labeling, coding, case packing and palletizing – literally, start-to-finish, turn-key applications. In doing so, we were requested to provide the connecting, often challenging, conveyor. After years of producing it for specific applications, the decision was made to make it available as its own commodity, and Custom Conveyor Concepts was born.”

  Gill emphasizes that his company’s products are designed to solve problems confronting breweries, whether accommodating tight spaces or tight deadlines.

  “We provide solutions. Whether it is space limitations, the need to expedite size changes or how to increase output, the only essentials required are your needs. Tell us what you want to do, and we will work with you to make it happen. We have worked with many startup companies, as well as very large, universally recognizable companies, and helped them grow. Our conveyors are versatile and expandable, as you can easily add, remove or re-route them. We only offer stainless steel, and our conveyors are constructed out of 11 ga., providing solid, durable equipment that will stand up to the harsh cleaning chemicals and offer ease in cleaning.”

  Gill adds that Custom Conveyor Concepts understands how to help breweries maximize their equipment investment while, at the same time, staying within budget.

  “We have worked with 600 cpm breweries down to 3 hd. fillers and manual crowners, when bottles were more prevalent. Our defining quality, in addition to the quality product we provide, is the attention we give to our customers and helping them achieve their needs, often providing options to help them stay within or define their budgets. We provide specialty equipment and service at ‘regular’ pricing. We don’t charge extra for non-stock items or detailed line layouts for placing the equipment. 

Our entire team’s product knowledge and industry experience are irreplaceable for providing application solutions. We do where others say it can’t be done. Many of our competitors don’t want to be bothered with small, low-dollar projects or small projects that require you to seek a solution. We excel at those.”

  Among the most popular products from Custom Conveyor Concepts are its serpentine conveyor and accumulation tables. Gill explains that while space is at a premium in most production facilities, it is more so in smaller operations. These two items, he says, offer ready solutions.

  “Utilizing a serpentine conveyor can convert the space a 5-foot conveyor consumes into 15 feet. The ability to make a roll change on a labeler without shutting off the filler makes the ROI for inline accumulation tables worth every penny.”

  Creating the bottling for breweries worldwide is the role of BPS Glass, a company based in Panama City, Panama, with its U.S. office in Atlanta, Georgia. As a family-owned business that began some 60 years ago, BPS Glass now boasts a reputation as one of the leading suppliers in the glass packaging industry. At its core is an emphasis on investing time, resources and effort in training its team members to create viable, innovative solutions for clients. Isidoro Cherem, a spokesperson for BPS Glass, says that the company works with breweries and distilleries that range from small craft operations to large commercial facilities. Cherem adds that dedication to optimal customer service sets the company apart from its competitors.

  “Thanks to our amazing team of experts and our commitment to excellence and creating long lasting relationships with our customers, we have grown to be the largest packaging supplier in the South and Central American region. We are constantly working towards expanding into the USA, and we are sure that we can replicate our success in the North American region.”

  BPS Glass offers more than 150 types of glass bottles for multiple industries, along with custom bottle designs. It also promotes services that include client-specific packaging and assistance with logistics to ensure timely, secure delivery of orders at the most cost-effective rates.

  Label design is another service BPS Glass provides its clients, with a focus on label colors and shapes, materials, textures and other aesthetic components. The company adds that it equips its clients with real-time marketing analysis, keeping an eye on marketing trends to help clients choose the right bottle, label and packaging for a product.

  Multiple choices in bottle closures are also on the company’s product roster. It points to its decades of knowledge in the chemical processes, physical considerations and industry safety standards to help clients safely package a product for consumers.  

  Whether using cans or bottles, breweries must factor in how best to protect the integrity of their product, both in terms of taste and safety of consumption. In addition, the efficiency of a production line depends upon investment in the right equipment that can move products swiftly and safely to store shelves. These considerations require the expertise of companies that know how to help breweries achieve these goals on time and within budget. 

From the Ground Up: Building a Brewery

Expertise Now Rescues Craft Brewers from Costly Headaches Later

 By: Cheryl Gray

Quality, precision and productivity are just some of the elements that factor in when deciding what brewery equipment to install.

  Whether for a start-up or an expanding operation, equipment is a major investment, and there are companies whose expertise is to help guide their brewery clients toward making that investment pay off.

  One of them is Craftmaster Stainless, a full-service stainless equipment provider that provides an expansive list of products for breweries, wineries and distilleries. The California-based company has clients across the United States and Canada. The company prides itself on the detail and finishing of every product its manufactures, as well as the customer service it provides before and after the sale.

  Mackenzie Sant is a sales and equipment specialist for Craftmaster Stainless. He says that learning about craft brewing from the ground up introduced him to the company’s products. The team behind Craftmaster Stainless, Sant explains, has multiple years in brewing, technical detail and customer service. That experience supports the company’s ability to translate a client’s equipment wish list into a customized experience. It is just one of the company’s assets that Sant believes puts Craftmaster Stainless ahead of its competitors.

  “We offer every piece of equipment someone needs to start a brewery. We want to be your one-stop shop. We won’t furnish your taproom or install your walk-in cooler, but we have all the equipment you need to upscale that popular homebrew batch or to upgrade from the ugly  brewhouse you have been brewing in for four years. We wish we could have in-person meetings with everyone shopping for a new brewery, but a phone call works wonders. Tell us your business plan, what styles of beer you want to brew and projected production numbers, and we can spec out the equipment you need. We work closely with other manufacturers and suppliers in the U.S. to source equipment that we don’t produce, from the start of the brew day milling the grain, to chilling and carbonating before pouring a crispy pint.”

  And just what does a newly-minted brewing operation need? Sant provides a checklist of essentials, beginning with a business plan and a building followed by must-have equipment, such as a mill/auger for crushing and transporting the grain to the mash tun, a mash tun/lauter tun for converting complex malt sugars into fermentable sugars and a kettle for “cooking” unfermented beer (wort), as well as for adding hops/adjuncts and pasteurizing the liquid to ensure a clean fermentation.

  Sant adds that additional essentials include a heat exchanger to cool the wort down to fermentation temperatures, pumps for cleaning or transferring liquids, unitanks/conical fermenters for the bulk of fermentation, brite tanks for conditioning, clarification and carbonation and, lastly, a glycol chiller for controlling fermentation and conditioning temperatures. The latter, Sant advises pairs well with a cellar control panel to control each tank.

  Regarding some of the most popular items on the product list for Craftmaster Stainless, Sant points to a number of items that highlight the company’s unique feel for what breweries need, including one piece of equipment that takes the tedium out of a very mundane but necessary chore.

  “I would say our keg washer is the most popular piece of equipment at the moment. I think I speak for most brewers when I say that keg washing is probably one of the most repetitive jobs in the industry. This machine makes that job easy. It is seriously your best ‘employee.’ Once again, our customer service is always there to help with any trouble shooting. We understand downtime is not profitable, so we are always available to help. I would say our brewhouses are popular as well. They look great and they get the job done. Our level of customization on our brewhouses will catch your eye. We do have a couple other products releasing this year that will steal the spotlight for a while.”

  The company’s new product launches include the Craftmaster Stainless Semi-Auto ‘Keggernaut’ Keg Washer and another new equipment item.

  “We just released our Three Gallon Hop Doser. The Hop Doser is a great attribute in our equipment line up. When introducing hops into the brewing process, you don’t want to introduce oxygen. This hop doser allows you to dry hop without oxygen ingress. It can be used for other adjuncts as well, so use your imagination. Keep an eye out for equipment to come. There is so much technology in the industry that isn’t being used, and we have big plans for the future, while staying competitive.”

  From Lincoln, Nebraska, is ABE Equipment Company, which designs and manufactures a variety of equipment for breweries. The company’s brewhouse equipment is custom-built, paying special attention to solving problem areas such as low ceilings, tight spaces, ventilation barriers and utility requirements. Ashlei Howell is the marketing manager for the firm’s parent company, Norland International.

  “Our sweet spot is the 1,000 BBL to 5,000 BBL per year brewery. Our products cater to much larger breweries, and much of our equipment can be used on a much smaller scale, but the niche we serve will be a bit on the higher production end.

  We pride ourselves on being able to offer a complete solution at a fair price. We handle everything from grain to glass. Everything is designed and assembled in Lincoln, Nebraska, and we employ over 130 hardworking Americans to make our suite of products. Our dedicated customer service technicians train our customers and make themselves available nearly anytime to answer questions.”

  When it comes to introducing new products to the market, Howell explains that ABE Equipment Company is focused on what will increase its clients’ bottom line.

  “Our newly released products have changed how breweries and distilleries package their product. The new CraftCan Go is a small footprint, one operator and a dual-purpose (atmospheric and counter pressure) canning machine. Breweries are packaging so much more than just beer in today’s environment.

  A canning line capable of making beer, coffee, seltzer, tea, and anything else that may be high or low in carbonation adds versatility to the brewery. It sets that particular machine apart from anything else on the market.

  The Patriot Fill Station allows companies to package virtually any beverage on a budget. It is a manual fill station allowing the user to package around eight bottles per minute. This machine can handle alcohol, syrups, oils and many more viscous or non-viscous liquids. With so many craft beverage companies coming to the market, having an affordable machine to get a product into a package at a reasonable price is a must for any beverage company wanting to stay ahead  of the game.”

  Howell offers input on some advanced equipment choices for breweries to consider.

  “There are numerous products a brewery can add to its lineup to optimize production, save time, cut costs and much more. A yeast brink allows breweries to reuse yeast and can easily be added to your equipment lineup. If harvested and stored correctly, you can sometimes yield up to 10 generations of yeast, spreading the cost across multiple brews. With rising grain costs, adding a bulk grain silo is becoming a more economical option for breweries. Buying in bulk saves time when brewing, but you can cut significant costs when ordering large amounts of grain at a time. The ROI on a silo is easier to prove now more than ever. There are also a variety of smaller, simpler items, such as brite tank monitors, CIP carts, and brewhouse automation options that help improve production within a brewery.”

  MISCO Refractometer and its 70-year history have earned a place in the specialty field of refractometry. Refractometers in the brewing industry are among the equipment needs experts say breweries should have on their checklist of items designed to ensure quality control. As the singular item that the company manufactures, MISCO offers a wide range of refractometer choices for different industries, but one specifically designed for brewing. The company says that its MISCO Digital Beer Refractometer deploys a patented design specific to wort and eliminates the need to use a refractometer correction factor when placing measurements into beer calculators.

  Another advanced equipment option for breweries is a set of sieve plates for the mill. According to experts like Sant, even a one percent efficiency loss in this area could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single year. Along with this, brewers may want to consider keg washers along with portable and inline flow meters. Sant recommends breweries make equipment choices with long-term gain in mind.

  “Can you save money in the beginning by cutting cost on your equipment? Absolutely. But what about labor cost, repair cost for failing equipment and bad batch efficiency? The list goes on. Spend less time worrying about the equipment and more time worrying about the beer you are creating. A popular beer podcast said that every 10 minutes you save brewing is a cold beer at the end of the day. Spend that extra time focusing on different aspects of the process.”

Proper Tank Selection Begins With Business and Production Goals

By: Gerald Dlubala

From start to finish, a well-equipped brewhouse or distillery is a complex linked chain of equipment, including specialized tanks and storage vessels, each important to the final product. But brewery and distillery experts agree that before finalizing any decisions on the purchase or upgrade of your tanks and tank accessories, it’s critical that the equipment manufacturers know your business and production goals, both now and in the future, so that they can recommend the proper vessels for your needs.

It’s in Their Name: Quality Tank Solutions

  To help sort through all of the possibilities, Jimmi Sukys, owner of Quality Tank Solutions (QTS), says that it’s critical to research and choose a manufacturer that carries an excellent reputation in your industry with the equipment they manufacture or import and with the knowledge and service capabilities for support of those products. Quality Tank Solutions brings over 50 years of expertise in the stainless-steel industry, providing sanitary liquid solutions to the brewing, food and beverage, dairy and pharmaceutical industries. QTS builds lifelong partnerships because of its willingness to work alongside each customer from start to finish and beyond. They offer everything a craft beverage producer needs in quality, right-sized equipment and accessories.

  “Before we even get to the tanks, a producer should know the production goals that match and support their business plan,” said Sukys. “From there, we can determine the size and quantity of necessary equipment, develop a plan for future growth and plan for the type and size of the facility that will support this plan. Of course, there are exceptions. For example, when a craft producer finds their perfect location, say, a great space for a taproom, we work backward using the available space. A quality manufacturer helps clients determine the optimal equipment size for their production space and provides the production capabilities of that recommended equipment.”

  “The first step is knowing the process or function required of the tank in question,” said Sukys. “A quality manufacturer should ask questions to be sure they design and offer a proper vessel for your needs. For example, is it a process tank, and if so, what will the process involve? What type of products will you be mixing, adding, heating or cooling, and to what extremes? The more details you provide to a manufacturer, the more value you get from your tank purchase.”

  Sukys said that knowing the size of batches is critical as well. Too small of a tank limits production. Conversely, going too big with a goal of doing double or triple batches or more can raise issues when wanting to do only a single batch. Most tanks are not designed to heat or cool less than maximum volume production batches efficiently. Smaller batches may not hold temperatures correctly or cause stratification. A manufacturer that understands these limitations can be beneficial in presenting options that work for the producer’s needs.

  “Stainless steel has become the standard choice of construction,” said Sukys. “Stainless steel tanks can withstand decades of use when properly maintained. The range of temperatures in stainless steel tanks is much greater than other material choices, allowing a craft producer to use them for a wider range of processes. Welded ports replace screw-on fittings, which may need more maintenance. Additionally, stainless steel offers superior sanitation capabilities and can withstand aggressive cleaning with different chemicals. Quality manufacturers provide maintenance schedules for any equipment they provide.”

  Sukys told Beverage Master Magazine that any other accessories and equipment needed, like boilers and chillers, will depend on what the beverage producer plans to offer. Budgets must also include more minor things that add up, like hoses, gaskets, extra clamps, and fittings. He recommends using a manufacturer that helps with recommendations on what is necessary for startup and what additional equipment is good to have on hand. It’s common for equipment manufacturers to have accessories available to the beverage producer.

“The most important aspect of all of this is to choose a quality manufacturer that keeps current on the evolvement of the beverage industry and has the capability and expertise to design equipment that allows you to produce better beverages consistently,” said Sukys. “A strong warranty and service department is critical for peace of mind and knowing that you have a partner to have your back if unforeseen things happen. And remember that as your business and production goals grow, so do your equipment needs. The industry is constantly evolving, and better design of tanks and auxiliary equipment can help save energy, raw materials and production time. Finally, American-made equipment always has a higher resale value than Asian imports. That can be important when it comes time to resell your smaller tanks to replace them with larger capacity models.”

  For questions, consultations, and more information on Quality Tank Solutions, visit www.qts4u.com.

Flexibility, Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness: Paul Mueller Company

  Since 1940, the Paul Mueller Company has provided experienced help and demonstrated expertise in the processing equipment industry. Their reputation as being not only a quality manufacturer of brewing-related vessels and equipment but also a true partner of craft beverage producers is demonstrated through their equipment and industry knowledge and their respectfulness of client schedules and available workspaces to provide seamless transitions and minimal disruptions or interruptions, whether you’re purchasing new systems or replacing outdated or undersized equipment.

  “The first thing we should look at, as far as necessary equipment and proper sizing, is the planned production, and then work back from there,” said Jon Sprenger, regional sales manager for the Paul Mueller Company. “We find the best way to do this is to consider what your business will look like and what production levels you expect to attain in five years. That number is critical because bottlenecks in brewing and production are generally about available cellar space rather than brewhouse issues. You can brew beer around the clock, but you’re at a dead end if you don’t have the cellar space.”

  Sprenger also said that equipment like tanks could depend on the heat source chosen for the production space. Steam and direct fire are the two most popular, with steam being the easiest way to brew. The boiler can be pricey upfront. Conversely, with direct fire, you’ll be paying regular monthly payments for natural gas on a utility payment plan. It depends on available capital and the owner’s perspective from a cost standpoint.

  Along with this, Sprenger adds that an owner has to consider if they want to distribute their products or remain true to being a craft taproom. How do you want to handle your packaging? A quality equipment manufacturer will use this information to develop a successful equipment plan that incorporates the entire business model, not just presently but also with an eye toward the future.

  “And we can achieve that in different ways,” said Sprenger. “Consuming beer is like eating food. You do it first with your eyes. So many times, older, trendier and historic spaces have become desired locations for breweries and taprooms. That’s okay, and we can fill an already acquired space, or we can look at a producer’s projections and recommend comfortable square footage estimates to fulfill those goals. Either way of building a system is acceptable and falls under the umbrella of what we can do. Most manufacturers, including us, offer layout services and work with the available contractors and architects to develop a successful system. Stainless steel is advantageous simply because of its longevity. It’s built to last with simple and easy maintenance and cleaning capability. When compared to oak, which is difficult in this day and age to brew beer in, it becomes an easy and economically sound decision to go with stainless products just based on ease of cleaning and maintenance, lifespan and consistency in product endpoint and taste.”

  Sprenger tells Beverage Master Magazine that Mueller offers everything for a complete brewing system that falls in between the raw ingredients and the end glass.

  “We understand that it’s a lot easier and less time-consuming for beverage producers to deal with as few vendors as possible, so we offer all the necessary related equipment and accessories that they’ll need to complete their brewing system. That being said, we also easily adapt or integrate our products into any existing equipment that a craft producer already has in place. All of our equipment is customizable and will comfortably fit where it is supposed to go using as little movement as possible. Our equipment and installation successes are great marketing tools as well. Like consumers, we love to see our tanks on display in taprooms because they are also on display to other industry professionals that visit, including other brewers.”

Saving Money, Increasing Efficiency With Mueller’s Serving Beer Tank

  “One thing we’re excited about, and brewers should be too, is our serving beer tanks,” said Sprenger. “They’re a great alternative to kegs, and they don’t require the cleaning or CO2 that kegs demand. Beer goes into a mylar or polymer, food-grade bag inside a pressurized tank using only compressed air. The serving beer tanks don’t require cleaning because the replaceable bag protects the stainless steel from ever contacting the enclosed product. The use of compressed air negates the use of CO2, and we all know about the cost and shortage issues there. They come in various sizes and are perfect for taprooms. The tanks are completely mobile, easily transported outside for parking lot events, off-site festivals or stacked above your bar or in cold rooms for an awesome visual experience. The uses and locations are endless, and our serving beer tanks provide ultimate flexibility, space savings and costs incurred with keg ownership. In addition, the serving beer tanks offer a self-cooling, streamlined process of serving beer directly from the tank that promotes longer shelf life and fresher beer. We do recognize the need for kegs for distribution and other uses, but our serving beer tanks give brewers a cost savings option to replace kegs where available.”

  Mueller’s serving beer tanks show well in a copper or stainless finish, are ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) code-rated and can easily push beer several hundred feet with no issues and serve multiple draft towers at once.

  For those looking for a complete system, Mueller offers their Beer Genius brewery system, a space-saving craft brewery package customized for your space and featuring their serving beer tanks, making everything from buy to brew easy and efficient with expert help and advice along the way.

  “We work with brewers through these types of things daily,” said Sprenger. “It’s critical to think through expected future growth. If you think you’ll need a size five tank, get a seven. The small extra cost will surely be less than the headache accompanied by a misjudgment in equipment sizing. Always consider your cellar tank needs, including brite and fermenter tanks, to accomplish your desired production goals. It’s always worth the effort.”

For questions, a consultation or more information on Paul Mueller or their serving beer tanks, go to www.paulmueller.com.

In the Market for Quality Parts and Accessories

  Many top tank and equipment manufacturers rely on parts and accessories from Gould Stainless Products. Gould Stainless Products sells everything you need except the tank and is a leading wholesale importer and distributor of stainless-steel sanitary tank accessories. Since 1991, Gould Stainless Products has filled the need for sanitary fittings, valves, pumps, tank manways and related accessories for the brewing, distilling and winemaking industries.

  Their extensive catalog is available online and by mail order. You can order a single, threaded joint, sight glass or replacement fitting up through stainless tubing lengths and replacement manways in various shapes, sizes and closure choices compatible with your existing system equipment.

   For more information and to view the extensive line of products that Gould Stainless Products offers, go to www.gouldstainless.com/home

Gain Consistency & Advantages With the Right Packaging Machinery

By: Gerald Dlubala

There are distinct advantages to packaging your craft beverages, with perhaps the most important aspect being that of reaching new customers and increasing your brand recognition. Packaging is a form of marketing, and by using your own filling and packaging machinery, a craft producer obtains autonomy over their brand and gets their product into the hands of consumers. But is owning your own equipment right for you?

Gaining Advantage: Pneumatic Scale Angelus

  “Purchasing canning machinery is a huge step,” said Mike Davis, product line and technology leader for Pneumatic Scale Angelus (PSA), part of BW Packaging Systems. PSA is a global industry leader with over 130 years of experience in craft packaging technology. “Because of the investment, you must partner with a machinery supplier that offers a system that complements your product mix, the formats you’re using and things like the necessary carbonation and temperature levels.”

  “It is an investment, but comparing the cost of purchasing versus working on a mobile canner or copackers schedule is just the start,” said Kyle Kelleher, seamer account executive. “Owning provides the canning operation when needed but adds additional advantages and opportunities, like expanded e-commerce and customer reach with more frequent and unique offerings. In addition, craft producers can themselves become copackers to help offset costs and keep the lines in use, or even partner with community organizations or local sports teams for fundraising or charitable collaborations.”

  “Most importantly, the brewer has total control over their beer, including variables like DO and carbonation levels, and package it at the optimal time rather than on someone else’s schedule,” said Connor McCaulley, account executive. “They can package smaller batches, test the market to find what sells and build networks and relationships with suppliers and distributors.”

The Right System for Your Needs

  “It really is important to start with the packaging function first when starting a brewery,” said Davis. “It provides the first impression consumers see on the shelves, and proper packaging will have your product consistently taste as good as it does in your taproom. In addition, craft beer is typically not pasteurized, so it’s critical to have a quality Cleaning-In-Place (CIP) system to keep all things clean that come in contact with your product.”

  PSA account executive Mark Saylor adds that adding any packaging equipment depends on the specific location’s variables. Producers should know the limitations of the available utility supply, the space required for the packaging machinery (mobile units or full stack) and the space allotments for additional supplies, finished goods and shipping needs.

  “At its most basic level, packaging is about your goals,” said McCaulley. “Is it to stay small and build upon small batch offerings? Is it distribution? Can the equipment and utility supply keep up or be upgraded to do so when needed? Can you expand raw material storage and finished goods areas? Do you have the personnel to devote to packaging without making yourself work 16-hour days? Does the machinery offer remote access capability? Compare overall designs. Applying the closure ASAP is important to ensure accuracy and consistency.”

  “And you need consistency,” said Saylor. “Product consistency can either build or lose customer base. Packaging systems must be versatile enough to adapt to the different tolerances in cans from different suppliers. Product mixes like beer, cider, kombucha and RTD (ready-to-drink) products present changeover needs, so look for systems like ours that offer minimal changeover times.”

  For smaller craft brewers, PSA offers their CB50 and CB100 inline canners with proprietary technology to perfectly fill up to 100 CPM (cans per minute) with little waste. Additional units like the CB50C trade open-air filling for counter-pressure filling to meet the demands for higher carbonation drinks. Heavier producers can use rotary beer canning systems to increase throughput without requiring an expanded footprint. Inline and rotary volumetric options offer packaging solutions at speeds from 15 to 100 CPM, meeting the need for small-batch or frequent-changeover production schedules.

  For additional information about Pneumatic Scale Angelus products and how they can jumpstart and improve your packaging function reach out to Gigi Lorence, global marketing director, at Gigi.Lorence@bwpackagingsystems.com.

Fillmore Packaging Solutions: Small-Scale Production Solutions

  After spending more than 20 years as a winemaker and craft brewer, Tony Saballa, owner of Fillmore Packaging in St Louis, started focusing on the mechanical side of craft beverage production. During that time, he found a continuing, unmet, small-scale packaging need for those beginning craft brewers trying to expand from the serious hobbyist ranks to craft beverage production.

  “There just wasn’t anything feasible and available at the time,” said Saballa. “A small craft brewer had to either import something costly from Germany or settle for used soda bottling equipment that was usually large and bulky.”

  That’s when Saballa started to build his own machinery, versatile and built for the micro and craft brewer to alleviate the more tedious manual filling work. He began making fillers for his needs and posting the process and results to his YouTube channel. With the corresponding boom in craft brewing, he became inundated with requests to build and sell his fillers. Fillmore Packaging was born, eventually branching out and now exporting all over the world.

  “Canning is still the most popular, but many craft brewery offerings are well-suited for glass containers,” said Saballa. “Small-scale producers need and want a versatile machine with quick changeovers, which is an advantage our fillers can provide. We supply two changes with the filler, with additional sizes available for purchase, so a brewer can customize the machine to their liking and offerings.”

  “Fillmore Packaging sells directly to the users, immediately cutting out the middleman and allowing the user to speak directly with us for support if needed,” said Saballa. “We provide quality, consistent filling systems and provide excellent support. We always pick up our phones.”

XpressFill Systems: Experience, Quality and Service

  Rod Silver handles marketing and sales for XpressFill Systems LLC, providing expert filling and packaging options for small to medium-sized craft beverage producers. XpressFill offers several filling machines for quality packaging of beer, wine, spirits, ready-to-drink options, vinegar, kombucha and more.

  “As with most production machinery, the right unit depends on your situation and needs,” said Silver. “Owners must weigh the costs, benefits and overall advantages and disadvantages of manual labor versus the automated machines counterparts. We encourage craft producers to perform a basic evaluation of labor costs to help them get a filler and determine what manual and semi-automatic options will work the best for them. The result of that evaluation is usually the sweet spot for filling and production because they’re reducing manual labor but not jumping into full automation, which can get very expensive and cost-prohibitive for craft producers, especially in the early stages of their growth.”

  Many breweries and distilleries are now crossing over, with breweries distilling their house spirits and distilleries coming out with signature brews. However, Silver warns that there is no one best type of machine that will consistently handle the packaging of both on a high-quality level.

  “You need the counter pressure filler to have the adequate shelf life for your beer, but it’s not the best choice for packaging spirits,” said Silver. “We help breweries when they need guidance on the best choice of equipment for their operations. We offer affordable and efficient filling machines in two or four spout models specifically designed for the craft beverage markets and to be easy to use. Their customer service and support are unmatched and have long been a hallmark of the company.

  XpressFill’s counter-pressure machines, XF2500/ XF4500/XF4500C, are perfect for beer, kombucha, soda or any other carbonated beverage filling in bottles, cans and even the popular crowlers for the to-go market. Open filler options like the XF4400/XF2200 use level filler technology and can increase efficiency using a gas purge cycle and automatic level sensor. Volumetric fillers are useable with many different bottle sizes and are ideal for bottling spirits, vinegar, oils and more. Level fillers for wine packaging use a sensor probe that shuts off the filling function at a specified height, giving the product that perfect visual for shelf presence.

  Silver tells Beverage Master Magazine that XpressFill is rolling out a brand-new filler that is already generating market interest and buzz. Their latest offering, the XFW200C, is a weight-based filler that ensures accurate and reproducible fill volumes while canning your beer. It’s a significant advantage since you can’t see the level and volume of the product inside the can.

  “Canning is still the most popular method of packaging beer,” said Silver. “With our new Weight-Based filler, you know that your 12- and 16-ounce beer cans are holding the proper amount. It eliminates the guesswork and ensures accuracy in your packaging, utilizing weight sensing technology to ensure accurate and consistent fills.”

  This weight-based filler is ideal when filling 12- to 16-oz cans, and the logic-based board makes it easy to learn and operate. It features an industrial-grade touchscreen display that lets the user enter the desired weight and then keeps track of how much dispenses into the can. The larger flow path allows for a smoother fill with product flexibility to include your craft products that contain a small degree of particulates, accommodating products like beer, kombucha, juices, RTDs, mixers and more. As a semi-automatic machine, it can be a producer’s first step into a more automated system if and when needed.

  Silver says the XFW200C Weight-Based Filler is slightly more expensive than other, more traditional fillers, but that additional expense negates the guesswork and worries over improper filling amounts.

SKA FABRICATING: Effortlessly Getting Your Product into Optimal Packaging

  “For canning operations under 50 CPM, the level of automation needed is fairly low,” said Jake Kolakowski, chief customer officer for SKA Fabricating, an automated packaging line fabricator in Durango, Colorado. “But, for smaller applications, I would recommend our Microbus depalletizer. It appeals to the most basic setup needs but performs a tremendous amount of labor-saving, manual work. It’s compact and folds down to about the floor size of a standard pallet. Mobility is key for smaller production areas and can be moved from area to area or folded away for storage. And it’s built for the budget conscious, working as a manual lift or easily adjusted with a cordless drill.”

  SKA FAB’s Nimbus depalletizer is built on the same technology as the Microbus. The half-height depalletizer system adds auto lift technology and can easily handle speeds of 50-80 CPM.

  “Our popular, full-height machine is our Can-i-bus,” said Kolakowski. “It’s customized for speeds up to 300cpm and has much more accumulator space before the rinsing operation so that it can run continuously through pallet changes. Then the user can add gravity-based ionizer air rinsers before filling on systems requiring speeds at or above 110 CPM. The Can-i-bus integrates seamlessly with our Dual Twist Rinse Cage, making size changes effortless with no tools needed. Post-fill operations are customized to what the producer wants, but automated can inspection is a must at these speeds since human visual inspection can’t keep up.”

  “SKA Fabricating’s core competency is building customized systems built to a manufacturer’s needs,” said Kolakowski. “We always strive to fit operator-friendly equipment into small spaces with optimal flow patterns. Coming up with the right working layout to limit any awkward or unnecessary movements of the operator is a built-in, value-added part of our service with no extra cost.”

  Kolakowski said that although bottling isn’t a significant component of most beer packaging, it is an essential segment of other sectors, including distilling, winemaking, heritage products, RTDs and many smaller craft producers. SKA FAB’s equipment for those operations is made with the same care and customization detail to automate the high labor parts of those processes.

Better Employee Retention Through Automation

  “Any manufacturer should take a return-on-investment approach to automation,” said Kowalowski. “Look for your highest labor input and where your employees spend most of their time. Then, look at the employee’s quality of life within those jobs. Any high-labor, repetitive task that machines can do will free your employees to perform higher value, more fun and more meaningful production tasks that ultimately lead to higher employee satisfaction and retention. We continuously see examples that investing in automation has led to better employee retention rates. And that’s important in today’s workforce availability.”

  SKA FAB works with many manufacturers on integration to make your packaging line the best it can be. They feature in-house tech support and dedicated installation/training teams to close most open tickets within the same reporting day. SKA FAB also sells components individually so a manufacturer’s capital outlay can be budgeted and controlled, resulting in a fully integrated, matching and functional packaging line.

Nelson-Jameson Inc: Reduce Costs with Proper Stretch Wrap

  “Craft beverage producers put a lot of effort into crafting and packaging their product, so it’s vital to keep that detailed effort up by utilizing the recommended stretch wrap to secure craft beverages and distilled spirits,” said Melissa Pasciak, director of marketing for Nelson-Jameson, a leading food and beverage industry distributor. “The proper stretch wrap keeps your products secure during shipment and storage, avoiding damage that results in loss of product and profit.”

  “It’s worthwhile to note the different types of stretch wrap that are used for different applications,” said Pasciak. “One size does not fit all, which is why we offer on-site stretch wrap audits to ensure that craft beverage producers get the most out of their budget. We perform a complete analysis on multiple areas of your stretch wrapping operation, including wrapping patterns, load dimensions, stretch percentage, actual applications and film weight. In addition, our expert auditors continue to optimize stretch film through recommendations, education and training on the proper film for your applications and best practices on use.”

  Pasciak says that if the same stretch wrap gets used for all applications, a beverage producer will likely spend more money and cause more damage because different situations benefit from particular gauges, strengths and load capacities.

  “The wrong choice of stretch wrap can significantly increase downtimes, needlessly raise unit load costs and negatively impact the environment and its energy resources,” said Pasciak.

  Nelson-Jameson has been a trusted source of food processing supplies to the food and beverage industries for 75 years. They represent over 850 vendors and distribute over 55,000 products in the categories of processing and flow control, safety, sanitation and janitorial, production and material handling, building and facility maintenance, laboratory and QA/QC and packaging and ingredients. Through comprehensive product offerings, industry expertise and expertly curated food safety programs, Nelson-Jameson is ready to lower your transaction costs while providing the products and services you need to produce safe, quality beverages.

  For more information or to schedule a stretch wrap audit for your business, contact Nelson-Jameson today.

Toll Free: (800) 826-8302 Website: nelsonjameson.com