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    Record-setting performance at Petrópolis in Uberaba: Nearly six million cans filled in a single day

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    Grupo Petrópolis awarded a turnkey project to Krones in 2018, including an 8-million-hectolitre Steinecker brewery and four lines for glass and cans.
    • Grupo Petrópolis contracted Krones to build a new complete brewery at its greenfield site in Uberaba. Image credits:

      Grupo Petrópolis

    What the Petrópolis brewery in Uberaba, Brazil, accomplished in early February was certainly the crowning achievement of a truly successful project. But the unparalleled output of nearly six million cans filled in a single day wasn’t the only highlight of the new greenfield brewery – and I won’t deny you the details on why not only the number of cans filled but the entire project was one for the record books.

    Shortly after Christmas 2018, the privately owned Brazilian brewing company Grupo Petrópolis contracted Krones to build a new complete brewery at its greenfield site in Uberaba. The turnkey project included an eight-million-hectoliter brewery with two identical Steinecker brewing lines and a total of 40 tanks as well as two high-speed canning lines and two returnable-glass lines from Krones. All told, the new plant is capable of processing an incredible 256,000 cans and 140,000 returnable glass bottles per hour. 

    Simone Roel Backes headed up the entire project. Born in Brazil, she is a project manager for plants and has been taking care of Grupo Petrópolis since the company started working with Krones 20 years ago. “Since then, I have handled 21 lines and three brewery projects for their sites across Brazil,” she explains. The current large order once again required a fair share of planning skill – because, no doubt, there is a lot to coordinate when building a completely new brewery and four filling lines.

    Simone Roel Backes is the responsible project manager and has been taking care of Grupo Petrópolis since the company started working with Krones 20 years ago.

    After ten months of project planning, order clarification, manufacturing, and assembly – plus the shipping of some 900 containers and freight loads to Uberaba – installation began in early October 2019. Over the next six months, there would at peak times be more than 200 men and women on site at one time, all working to fill the empty halls with systems from Krones.

    Remote commissioning of the entire brewery

    Then came the disruption at the end of March: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the entire German team responsible for setting up the process technology equipment in Uberaba had to return home. But although they were no longer physically present, the German technicians didn’t simply abandon their plant or their colleagues on site. Over the next three months, they supported the entire mechanical and electrical installation as well as the commissioning by way of phone calls and video conferences. “I will admit that it was a very stressful time,” recalls Simone Roel Backes. “The five-hour time difference meant that all meetings between Germany and Brazil had to be in the afternoon. The team in Uberaba documented the progress and results of each day in writing and in photos and videos. The next morning, we looked at it all from afar and determined the next steps, which were then discussed again in another meeting in the afternoon.”

    And if you’re thinking that the construction site must have gone pretty quiet, think again. There were still more than 150 people on site, including local employees from Krones and other installation subcontractors. While the German team assisted with the brewery remotely, our Brazilian service colleagues handled the entire installation and commissioning of the glass and canning lines – with the technicians in Germany standing by to help with questions as needed, of course. “We developed stringent hygiene policies in collaboration with Petrópolis for the work on site right at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – it even covered hotels, restaurants, and the shuttle service between all of the locations involved,” explains Simone Roel Backes. “Masks and physical distancing were required, of course. Surfaces were disinfected twice a day, and any new visitors to the worksite were tested for the virus before entering.” The precautions and systematic adherence to those policies paid off: According to Simone Roel Backes, “Nobody in the entire construction site team was infected with Covid-19.” 

    In July, the pandemic situation in Brazil had improved to the extent that technicians were once again able to travel to the Petrópolis worksite from Germany. Gradually, around 60 percent of the original team returned. And that was not a moment too soon, because on 11 August it was time to start the first official brew! “The six weeks between their arrival and the first brew were intense – but they are also a testament to great teamwork,” says Simone Roel Backes. “Of course the project overall was delayed a bit because of the Covid situation. But the customer was very pleased that things nevertheless went as quickly and as well as they did.” Just two weeks later, the team gave the green light to begin filling on the canning lines – right on schedule. And then, the next highlight: The line achieved 95 percent efficiency, exceeding the level agreed in the contract. Both of the canning lines and one of the two glass lines have since passed their final acceptance tests. The second glass line went into operation in mid-February.

    Record output gets certified

    Every Krones employee who worked on this large contract for Petrópolis in Uberaba – both on site and from afar – can be proud of this incredible team accomplishment, having completed the project to the customer’s satisfaction. 

    But the Krones team wasn’t the only one doing a great job in Uberaba (and still doing a great job, of course). The lines have been running at top speed and setting new records. In early February, for the first time, Petrópolis filled nearly six million cans in a single day on the two lines in its Uberaba brewery – a first for the entire Petrópolis brewery group! It took both of the Krones lines running continuously at top speed for nearly 24 hours. “In Brazil, demand for beer in cans is very high right now. So the new brewery was completed at just the right time. And thanks to the smooth performance of our equipment, we’ve been able to help Petrópolis meet the high market demand,” says Simone Roel Backes happily. 

    Petrópolis has already rewarded Krones’ commitment: At the end of December, the company placed yet another order, this time to expand the Steinecker tank farm and add another canning line. And so the story of the two companies’ successful partnership continues.

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