Blog : Faster to market with ALL IN ONE filling
Beer brewer 4 Pines needed a way to fill bottles, standard and sleek cans in a small space with fast changeovers, superior quality and less waste.
4 Pines Brewing Company began in 2008 as a microbrewer based in Manly, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Within a few years, it grew rapidly to become Sydney’s largest independent brewery. It was acquired by the international alcohol powerhouse AB InBev in 2017 and is now part of Asahi.
Since then, 4 Pines has opened multiple venues around Australia. It has maintained its agile and innovative position in the market, running small batches of new brews at its Brookvale brewhouse for market testing before transitioning to large-scale production.
The smaller batch runs are also ideal for promotional packaging runs at festivals, events and trade shows.
With the ever-increasing demand for its range and consumer preference for canned beer, 4 Pines started looking at options to upgrade the filling line at its Brookvale brewery.
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4 Pines initially considered investing in a separate can line, which would be costly to purchase and run, requiring more operators, maintenance and services.
In addition, there were space and power constraints.
Efforts to secure an adjacent industrial factory unit close to the brewhouse for a new can line were unsuccessful. Premises that could be obtained were too far away to pump the beer from the brewhouse to a filler without presenting technical challenges and impacting on quality.
Prospective suppliers were invited to visit the site and propose solutions.
Foodmach was selected due to our:
A world-first combined rinser/filler/capper/seamer in a single monoblock.
GEA Vipoll ALL IN ONE’s multifunctional system can accommodate both carbonated and still beverages, either hot or cold filling and fills glass, PET and cans in multiple formats.
Foodmach collaborated with 4 Pines over several months to develop the new filling line. Taking into consideration the 4 Pines sustainability ethos and quality requirements, its desire to produce innovative product and packaging—and its limited space—we recommended the award-winning GEA Vipoll ALL IN ONE filler.
Foodmach’s state-of-the-art line upgrade at 4 Pines included:
Chris Willcock, Chief Brewer, 4 Pines: ‘We put so much care into our beer, which is why we say that love is the fifth ingredient. We don’t just rely on machines, but we will use the finest tech out there to support our aim.
'We want our beer to be tasty; tasty every time.'
Until now, beverage companies wishing to supply their customers with bottles and cans needed to have two separate fillers or outsource to contract packaging companies.
The ALL IN ONE runs glass bottles and beverage cans and PET bottles through one machine in a compact layout.
GEA Vipoll Visitron ALL IN ONE features at a glance:
As remarkable as the ALL IN ONE filler is, a filling machine is only as efficient as the conveying and upstream/downstream equipment.
Foodmach worked with the 4 Pines team to develop the rest of the line in order to best meet the challenges of providing speed, flexibility and highest product quality in a small space.
Chris Willcock: 'We like to experiment with our brews and our packaging—and get small batches to the market in record time for best customer impact—so we needed a filling line that could keep up with our adventurous innovation agenda.’
4 Pines Brookvale is one of the most agile plants of its kind in Australia.
The final state-of-the-art line upgrade installed by Foodmach includes:
Foodmach also provided the following services:
The line is designed to handle:
The 4 Pines ALL IN ONE filler was specified to fill 10,000 containers per hour (based on 330ml).
For coding 4 Pines' product, Foodmach proposed the Markem-Image 9450S, a small character inkjet printer that is specifically designed for the beverage industry.
It prints easily on metal cans, glass and PET; even pouches and liquid bricks.
The 9450S prints a two-line code on 120,000 containers or packs per hour. Markem-Imaje offers the industry’s widest range of inks, including a high-performance contrast ink for dark glass substrates.
This high-speed primary package coding unit features a hygienic full stainless steel design with no retention zones, which means it can be washed down efficiently.
Its optimised additive and energy consumption features result in a 30% reduction in the total cost of ownership (compared to other competitive models in the same category).
Product coding, labelling and traceability solutions are an in-house capability of Foodmach. The challenge is to ensure careful integration with activities up and downstream.
4 Pines’ master brewers can now test a wider range of beers faster, safely and at a lower cost.
The ALL IN ONE’s high speed, fast changeovers and ability to handle an extraordinary range of containers and closures (while sterilising) fulfilled 4 Pines' requirement for agility.
It is essentially several filling machines in one.
However, it also met 4 Pines' ESG requirements.
Chris Willcock: ‘We’re a values-driven organisation, where people matter. And we take our use of resources very seriously. Whatever filling line solution we came up with needed to be safe, comfortable to work with and reduce our water and power consumption.’
The new line offers:
1. Reduced Energy Consumption
As well as saving on overheads, the ALL IN ONE reduces the energy used in bottling and canning beer and reduces water use.
An option is to warm fill at 15°C, as opposed to traditional cold filling at 3°C. This feature also delivers significant energy savings as the product does not need to be cooled down as much, nor do the completed containers need to be warmed to above the dew point to avoid condensation forming.
Safety is a major consideration for brewers of all sizes.
In the event of an accident, the consequences to employees and the legal liabilities of the directors remain the same. Foodmach’s in-house safety expertise ensured that 4 Pines Brookvale’s new filling line meets Australian Safety Standards.
A dedicated team of electrical and safety accredited engineers and software programmers identified inherent risks in the operating plant and equipment. Equipment was relocated and re-installed to current Australian safety standards and turnkey safety upgrades implemented.
Compliance was fully documented and supported with safety awareness training.
3. The Shhh Factor
Glass filling operations can be noisy.
Ideally, conveying and depalletising systems are designed to handle glass accurately and quietly. Foodmach depalletisers carefully handle a wide variety of local and imported glass on a range of pallet sizes and offer fast changeovers with automatic destrapping.
Earle Roberts, CEO, Foodmach: ‘Gentler container handling throughout the entire 4 Pines line ensures that both cans and bottles are in perfect condition when they leave the brewery. It also means a much quieter and more pleasant working environment for staff.’
The equipment engineered for 4 Pines will depalletise half-height pallets of glass bottles and cans at up to 13,000 containers per hour with minimal noise.
4. A Leaner Operation
Optimised line speed is not just about faster machines with faster changeovers.
Buffering and accumulation are the keys to maximising line output. Accumulation is the temporary collation of product for downstream processes. Buffering is how the collated products are delivered to downstream processes at a different rate from what they are received. Conveyors and accumulators can be designed with buffering capability, which helps to account for minor stoppages in upstream and downstream equipment without causing downtime.
Although short delays for setting up machines or correcting jams are a normal part of any production line, if they cause the line to stop they can add up over time and cost hours in lost production.
Foodmach installed an inline container accumulation table at 4 Pines, which provides storage space for bottles and cans prior to the cluster packer. When a downstream product stoppage occurs, the products accumulate on the table, ensuring that the ALL IN ONE can run out all product in a controlled manner.
The accumulation table automatically clears itself and feeds the containers back into the line when the downstream stoppage is cleared. It provides excellent results in a compact footprint.
Earle Roberts: ‘We use our experience from working with high-speed bottling and canning lines at 120,000 cans per hour to ensure that we get the buffering and accumulation right on any speed line.
‘We’ve designed 4 Pines Brookvale to minimise those short delays and bottlenecks that will otherwise reduce efficiency.’
This project required the integration of new and legacy (old) equipment.
4 Pines requested a line control system to link all the equipment together.
Foodmach is a specialises in the use of industry standards for connecting machines on a packaging line.
Our programming techniques enable operators to obtain consistent data from different machine brands with different control systems, maximise performance, isolate issues and make changes without calling in a software engineer.
In addition, the foundations are in place for 4 Pines to add a line management execution system at a later date.
In future, data collected through the packaging line can be fed into high-level control architecture and consolidated with enterprise resource planning (ERP), manufacturing execution systems and quality management software to really put brewery managers in the driver’s seat.
4 Pines’ new line is effectively ready for Industry 4.0.
Chris Willcock: ‘Fantastic integration... combined all the OEM equipment with a line control that gives us a full view of the filling operations in real-time.’
The line was installed during the COVID-19 challenges in New South Wales.
Thanks to the careful pre-commissioning work by Foodmach technicians, the filler achieved its Site Acceptance Testing for speed and quality on the first product runs post-commissioning.
The first can run on the new line, Nitrogenated Ben and Jerry’s Ale, won Silver at the 2021 AIBA awards.
Chris Willcock: ‘The filling line upgrade enables us to fill both bottles, cans and sleek cans with better quality control. This was achieved within the existing floor space, so we didn’t need to relocate the brewing or add overheads. Importantly, we’re using less water and power for filling and sterilising closures. 4 Pines is committed to reducing waste.
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