If you’re in the beer business, then you know how important temperature is during processing and packaging (not to mention during drinking!). But did you know that by adding buffers to improve bottling line efficiency you will also reduce temperature-related inconsistencies in your packaging process?
The slowest machine on a typical bottling line is the filler. This makes it the constraint, i.e., the bottleneck that all of the other machines often have to wait for. The problem isn’t just that the filler itself is slow and goes down often, but that when machines upstream and downstream fail, the filler also has to stop because it either has no bottles to fill (upstream problems) or no place to route filled bottles (downstream problems). The most common cause of filler stoppages on beer bottling lines is the labeler needing to be refilled.
This starting and stopping of the filler clearly impacts line efficiency. But it can also impact product quality.
Here’s how Darren Moser, who is currently the Vice President of Operations at The Bruery & Offshoot Beer Co. explained the issue in a 2014 Craft Brewing Business article:
“When the filler is starting and stopping often, product is allowed to warm in the pipeline and the bowl or pre-tank causing inconsistent fills. These inconsistencies are then difficult to differentiate from short fills, high dissolved oxygen, or excessive loss of carbonation caused by factors other than startup and downtime.”
The solution, he suggests, is to focus on what happens upstream and downstream of the filler so that you can keep the filler itself up and running:
“The design and staffing of the upstream and downstream flows are critical to keeping the filler on uptime. Upstream mechanics should be designed to always keep the filler supplied with both materials and product, likewise downstream should always be sized to pull finished containers away with ease to avoid backups.”
The upstream and downstream mechanics he’s describing can be achieved by adding accumulation systems that act as buffers before and after the filler. This helps ensure that the filler always has products to process and a place to put those products, even if there are failures on other parts of the line.
We’ve been building accumulation systems to help the beverage industry increase bottling line efficiency and maximize throughput for over 80 years. One of our most recent solutions, the Spiral Infinity, has become very popular in the beer business because it provides significantly more accumulation than a standard table in roughly the same footprint. In another article, Craft Brewing Business had this to say about the Spiral Infinity: “It’s one of those solutions that seems obvious once you do it, but Garvey are the guys who actually did it…”