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Mammoth bottle washer

The investment made by Molson Coors Canada in one of the biggest bottle washers ever built by Krones creates a potential for very substantial savings, and will pay off very quickly. With its high-level infeed designed for an output of 132,000 bottles per hour, it will serve a twin bottling line from Krones in the Toronto Brewery. Although ingressing this gigantic piece of kit was far from easy, installation was completed 2 ½ weeks ahead of what was already a tight time schedule.

Filling line for aluminium bottles

Molson Coors Canada operates a total of five breweries in Canada, the largest of which is the facility in Toronto, with a capacity of five million hectolitres annually. The following filling kit is installed at the Toronto facility: one kegging line, two canning lines, and the new aluminium bottle line, which was supplied by Krones as a turnkey job in 2012. The line boasting the highest speed is the “T5” twin returnable-glass line, in which the new Lavatec D5 bottle washer was integrated.

Low heat, low water

The Lavatec D5 can be regulated in the range from 45,000 to 133,000 containers per hour. A total of 890 bottle carriers, each holding 74 bottles in steel pockets with plastic mouth inserts, totalling around 50,000 bottles, travel through the machine with a transit time of just under 23 minutes for each container. Plate heat exchangers serve to heat up the bottle washer with saturated steam. Thanks to a pretty complex heating system featuring several heat recuperation functions, the heat consumption per bottle is around 19 kilojoules. The water consumption is less than 20 cubic metres per hour, which is equivalent to 0.15 litres of water needed per bottle.
To flush out and disinfect the discharge-head, water post-treatment and post-caustic sections, an automatic CIP system has been integrated. The machine has also been prepared for caustic sedimentation and caustic filtration. Connection flanges have been provided for this purpose in the sidewall for the return from the sedimentation zone. The Lavatec D5 handles a single type of bottle, a brown 341-millilitre returnable bottle dubbed “AT2”. This pool bottle of Molson Coors Canada as well as Labatt/InBev and many Canadian small brewers is usually good for 15 to 20 turnarounds.

Machine stops significantly reduced

Downstream of the Lavatec D5, the washed bottles are divided into two flows, leading to two identically structured 60,000-bph lines, installed by Krones as a turnkey job in 2006. At that time, an existing, relatively old bottle washer was integrated in the twin line. “The bottle washer we had back then was quite literally the filling operation’s “bottleneck”, letting line efficiency drop to 55 per cent,” says George Mellish, Business Unit Manager of the brewery in Toronto. “There were too many stops, up to 85 of them in an eight-hour shift. The label detachment function is better now, which in its turn has a beneficial effect on empty-bottle inspection. This has enabled us to reduce the label-related rejection rate at the two empty-bottle inspectors from 0.6 to zero per cent. With the bottle washer from Krones, we now have only 17 stops per shift, a very good key statistic for returnable bottles. We used to have too much maintenance to do, too many repairs. And we had to clean the machine much too often, so as to maintain the relevant microbiological standard. Line efficiency, operating costs and safety questions were the three paramount reasons for deciding to replace the bottle washer. I’m quite happy with it, the staff love it because it’s high-tech kit and easy to operate,” admits George Mellish.

“Best in class”

However, the connection that Molson Coors Canada has with bottle washers from Krones goes back quite a long way: “This is already the fifth Lavatec we’re using in our breweries. And we think, it’s the best in class. Considering its extremely high output, its design is comparatively compact. The machine excels in terms of overall efficiency and availability levels, with clean design scoring highly as well,” emphasises Nicholas Chan. “Our ‘beerprint’ currently runs at 4.19 hectolitres of water per hectolitre of beer in the Toronto Brewery. We want to improve on that even more with the Lavatec, because after all the bottle washer is the biggest ‘water gobbler’ in the filling operation.”

In Nicholas Chan’s view, the bottom line is high savings at all levels: “During the last three years we were running the old machine, we incurred annual costs of more than one million Canadian dollars for repairs, maintenance, inefficiencies in line performance and over-consumption in utilities. This is the single-biggest factor, which now no longer applies, thus accelerating our return on investment. More specifically, we were able to up our overall line efficiency by ten per cent, thanks to the new washer’s high availability. Consumption of water for bottle cleaning has been reduced by 40 per cent, as has energy consumption, while we need 25 per cent less expendables like caustic into the bargain. These are really some impressive figures we’re now achieving with this state-of-the-art machine. Both Molson Coors and Krones can be justifiably proud of this project.”

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