Case Study

Blog : Pirate Life gets higher speeds for less — using crafty integration.

Pirate Life Brewery

Pirate Life was building a state of the art, fully automated brewery and needed a new craft brewery canning line.

The $15 million Port Adelaide brewery and canning facility was touted to be the engine behind Pirate Life’s expansion into the Australian and international beer markets.

The vast 10,000m2 floor space of the former Dalgety Wool Store was transformed into a customised, energy-efficient, 50-hectolitre brewhouse, packaging facility, taproom with a 22-yard bar, shop and entertainment area.

At full capacity, Pirate Life Port Adelaide Brewery is designed to able to produce over eight million litres of beer annually. Pirate Life co-founder Michael Cameron says the brewery intends to brew between 40 and 45 new beers in its first year of opening.

Pirate Life’s state of the art, fully automated brewery needed a canning line equal to the task. It had to be fast enough to be able to manage current and future demand for Pirate Life brews and flexible enough to keep up with changing packaging formats and pallet patterns.

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Pirate life Case Study

The Solution

A new craft brewery can line, including depalletiser, conveyors, robotic palletiser and pallet stretch wrapper, running at 15,000 cans per hour.

The project scope included:

  • Design and supply of conveyors

  • Design and supply of can depalletiser and Robomatrix® palletising system

  • Supply of an ionised air rinser, can dryer, Markem-Imaje labelling and laser coding solution and Robopac high-speed pallet wrapper

  • Installation, electricals and commissioning

  • Integration of the new line with a new filler, case packer and other OEM equipment.

Higher Speeds for Less

Pirate Life is running at 250 cans per minute – 15 per cent of the speed of a big canning line at a larger brewery.

The Foodmach team has developed its beverage expertise by designing and installing canning lines at large operations running at 1,000 to 2,000 cans per minute.

Applying those learnings around line control and accumulation to smaller craft brewers such as Pirate Life results in extra output and efficiency without extra capital expense.

Pirate Life had ordered some excellent pieces of equipment to automate its production line, but even top-of-the-line equipment is only as fast and efficient as the conveying and upstream/downstream equipment.

The overall packaging line speed all comes down to the skill of the integration provider.

The new canning line is a success and has enabled Pirate Life’s proposed expansion, facilitating exports to international markets.

Gentler Handling

There’s almost just as much art to gentle, automated container handling as there is to brewing craft beer.

The right conveying and accumulation ensures cans are in mint condition throughout the canning and packaging process.

The automatic depalletiser Foodmach supplied to Pirate Life is a robustly built machine, with the innovative technology and design elements commonly supplied in machines for high-speed breweries.

It includes automatic pallet changeover (no down-time when changing pallets) and strap removal station, and a sweep with integrated layer squarers controlled by a variable speed drive for smooth transition of the cans on to the conveying system. It incorporates an automatic top frame and layer sheet removal system and clamps to hold the sheets when sweeping the layer.

The CAT 3 safety rated machine with hoist locks and electrical hardware ensures safety compliance with AS.4024

Pallet Wrapping

A correctly-specified pallet stretch wrapper can easily keep up with overall production without creating a backlog of unwrapped pallets, will reduce film usage and reduce damaged product in transit.

Foodmach partners with global leader in stretch wrapping, Robopac, to provide a variety of styles able to handle up to 130 pallets per hour, with fully integrated systems including pallet tracking and labelling.

Robopac’s Cube Technology™ applies precisely the right amount of film in the correct position with the right containment force. It provides 30-55% film savings using multi-variable pre-stretching of film, which is strategically placed where it has the greatest impact on load containment.

Robopac’s pallet wrapping range provides protective corner compensation, which reduces product damage and is useful for keeping expensive packaging intact.

The system Foodmach installed at Pirate Life features an additional station at the infeed to the pallet wrapper, which allows operators to introduce pallets of kegs from the adjacent keg filling line through the stretch wrapper. The station was a clever addition suggested by Foodmach’s National Sales Engineer Chris Yule that means Pirate Life can wrap its increasingly popular kegs on demand.

Future Proof

The aim of any skilled integrator is to prepare manufactures for Industry 4.0 integration.

The new Pirate Life canning line is LMES Ready, to allow for future integration of a Line Manufacturing Execution System.

With the horizontal (machine to machine) line integration in place, it’s a much simpler task to add in a plant metrics reporting tool and vertically integrate with higher-level management systems.

The new canning line is a few simple steps away from becoming a smart factory.

Flexibility is critical for any new packaging line. The Robomatrix palletiser features Foodmach’s Robowizard® pattern forming software, which allows the operators to make adjustments to each layer and implement new pallet patterns quickly and without the need for external resources.

The software uses a simple drag and drop interface, no complicated software engineering required, which means that Pirate Life can change pack sizes or pallet configurations with ease.

The new trend for 500ml and slim cans is easily be accommodated.


Safety is a major consideration for craft brewers.

When it comes to an accident it doesn’t matter if you’re a large multinational or a small operation. The consequences to employees and the legal liabilities of the directors remain the same.

Foodmach’s safety expertise ensures that Pirate Life’s canning line meets Australian and International Safety Standards.

About Pirate Life

Pirate Life is a craft brewer located in Adelaide, South Australia.

Established in Hindmarsh in 2014, it was acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2017, enabling plans for large-scale expansion, quadrupling production through a new facility in Port Adelaide.

Pirate Life now exports to international markets including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

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