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    Schneider Weisse invested in a new glass filler and a digital maintenance management

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    The traditional brewery Schneider Weisse now uses a new glass filler and the maintenance system, Share2Act Assistance.
    • Has been working for the company for 38 years: Brewmaster Hans-Peter Drexler is among the pioneers of the German craft beer scene.
    • Epitomising convivial Bavarian togetherness: the Schneider Weisse beer garden is equally popular among locals and tourists.
    • Plenty of oxygen for the yeast: at Schneider Weisse, the beers are still allowed to ferment in open vats.

    But no matter how multi-facetted and distinctively original the beers of the Schneider Weisse brewery from Kelheim in Bavaria are, they’ve got one thing in common: they do not undergo fermentation in tanks but in open vats. This ensures that the yeast gets enough oxygen, thus enabling the wide variety of aromas to be created that is typical for Schneider. “I personally think our main beer type, the Original Schneider Weisse, is an ingenious beer – precisely because we owe the open fermentation process to this beer,” explains Hans-Peter Drexler. The brewmaster has been working for the company for 38 years and today heads the Technology and Logistics Divisions as managing director. “Ensuring that this great process is retained has always been a matter of crucial importance to me.”

    This is also why he doesn’t mind the more elaborate procedures that the traditional method inevitably entails, demanding as it does perfect hygiene conditions and not forgiving even the tiniest of mistakes. In addition, there is also Schneider Weisse’s self-imposed imperative: to brew a beer of uncompromising quality in the finest of craft traditions. “Anyone buying a beer from Schneider Weisse rightfully expects a certain taste. We can afford absolutely no fluctuations here”, says Hans-Peter Drexler, adding unperturbedly: “You know, Schneider Weisse has been specialising in this field for a long, long time. We know the process inside out, and have matched our system technology to suit it down to the very last detail.”

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    The existing Krones glass line was upgraded with a new filler and a CIP system.

    Replacing a filler that had been getting on in years

    This likewise applies to the new filler (including CIP system) that Schneider Weisse commissioned in 2019 shortly before Christmas. Even though its predecessor – and the rest of the returnable-glass line – had been supplied by Krones and giving reliable service since the 1990s, Schneider Weisse approached its search for a suitable vendor with an open mind. “We had a look, of course, at several different manufacturers and while we were at it had some very constructive talks,” says Hans-Peter Drexler. “In the final analysis, though, we once again chose a Krones filler. We felt we were in very good hands here, and the price-performance ratio was also spot-on.”

    Schneider Weisse opted for a Modulfill HES, featuring 120 valves and filling up to 40,000 half-litre bottles an hour. The brewery uses sterile air as pressurising gas for those beer types that undergo in-bottle fermentation after filling – in contrast to most other breweries that use CO2, as Hans-Peter Drexler emphasises: “That’s why we wanted to have an option for switching off pre-evacuation when we’re filling our main products. It saves on compressed air, which makes quite a difference in terms of numbers.”

    Knowing exactly what they want

    The Modulfill HES handles the brewery’s complete beer portfolio and, depending on the season, is operated for one or one and a half shifts a day. So as to remove any living yeasts that may be left in the machine after a bottle has broken, an automatic hot-water cleaning routine is run every two hours. This requires perfect interaction between the filler and the CIP system, so as to meet the brewery’s meticulous specifications. “We don’t want to put disinfectant in the filler for an interim cleaning routine,” explains Hans-Peter Drexler. “So it was important to us that the water invariably has the same temperature, of 80 degrees Celsius, right from the first litre.”

    There were likewise some customer-specific requirements to satisfy in terms of CIP system design: “Since we’re not pasteurising our products, we had some special wishes in regard to valve technology,” points out Hans-Peter Drexler. “Our specifications lay down a certain valve type for every task. Krones took that into due account and integrated into the valve rack precisely those components we’re working with here as a standard.”

    A lot of ingenuity was needed to fit the new machines into the hall. This was because the filler and CIP system were to be integrated into the existing line in the same space formerly occupied by two older models – and these were significantly smaller. “A whole lot of customisation work was required here, both in the planning stage and during erection as well,” says Hans-Peter Drexler. “But that was likewise solved to our satisfaction.” To accommodate the machines in the space envisaged, the Krones designers modified a number of individual features, including the housing of the filler and the position of the process components.

    Digital maintenance management

    The modernisation of the machine technology constituted a welcome opportunity for Schneider Weisse to take a giant step forward in regard to digitalisation as well: after long years of working with the SIPS maintenance system from Krones, the brewery has now changed over to its latest successor system, Share2Act Assistance.

    “The old system had been getting on in years and was quite simply no longer offering the functionalities we need,” explains Hans-Peter Drexler. “What simplified the change-over for us was that we’d already imaged all our machines in the SIPS – so we could just transfer that to Share2Act.” Werner Volkmann, who heads the Technical Service Department and works with the system every day, adds: “We use the system to cover our entire maintenance operation, of both the brewery and the bottling hall. What we’re talking about here is up to 5,000 maintenance orders.”

    Article 23913
    Schneider Weisse introduced Share2Act Assistance for maintenance management, covering all of the jobs involved, in both the brewery and the bottling hall.

    Everything regionally sourced

    Even though it was not the reason tipping the scales in favour of Krones, the fact that the plants of Krones and Schneider Weisse are just a good half hour’s drive away from each other fits in perfectly with the “buy local” concept that the brewery has been vigorously pursuing for 25 years now. The raw materials used to make Schneider Weisse’s beers, you see, all come from the brewery’s neighbourhood. “We’ve got ideal conditions for this here. Malting barley can be grown in our region, using only very small amounts of fertiliser, and since the Hallertau is close by, we likewise have the hops grown right here in our immediate vicinity,” says a gratified Hans-Peter Drexler.

    As small as its buying radius is, as big is conversely the brewery’s sales market. Around a quarter of the production output is exported to customers in more than 40 countries around the globe. Schneider Weisse’s international success is based not least on the inquisitive, cosmopolitan spirit of its brewmaster that’s rubbed off on the brewery, too.

    Article 23883
    From Lower Bavaria to the whole wide world: the brewery purchases its raw materials from its immediate neighbourhood – using them to brew beers that find enthusiastic buyers all round the globe.

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