And this was when chance came to the brewery’s aid: at that time, Lammsbräu was planning to modernise its batch-production operation for lemonades. In a brownfield project, Krones extended the concept for beverage blending to include a Contiflow mixer and a thermal syrup treatment system. Both machines were installed in the space available within four weeks, without this hampering the rest of the production process at all.
So Lammsbräu could now use the no-longer-needed lemonade batch tanks as bright-beer tanks. A clever move – because this provided the brewery in one fell swoop with more than 30,000 hectolitres of additional bright-beer-tank capacity. “If we’d opted for installation of new tanks, this would never have been possible within this timeframe. Krones completed the modification job swiftly, right on time for the start of the festival,” explains Karl-Heinz Maderer, Technical Manager and authorised signatory at the Lammsbräu brewery. But this was by no means the only advantage.
Flexible and microbiologically safe
For making its beverages, Neumarkter Lammsbräu now uses a basic-ingredient blending tank, a mixing tank and a tank for aromatics, which were provided by the brewery itself. Above these, hanging on the wall, is a tube heat exchanger affixed by Krones, in which the products are first of all pasteurised. With this product-friendly thermal pre-treatment, a most varied range of organic raw materials can be handled without using any preservatives beforehand. This ensures impeccable microbiological conditions throughout the entire production process. The hot beverage is kept ready for feeding to the filler in a total of three new batch tanks, each holding 40 hectolitres. By adding liquid sugar during the transfer pumping routine, an ideal mixing temperature is created in the batch tanks for subsequently processing the finished syrup. After that, the products are washed with carbon dioxide in order to expel any oxygen still present and to deaerate the syrup.
In addition, this has provided Neumarkter Lammsbräu with a significant degree of flexibility: each one of these three tanks can work either in cleaning mode or in production mode, with the combination being user-selectable. What’s more, the syrup’s strength (product-dependent) can vary within a broad range, because the Contiflow mixer, with its ultra-accurate control function, will later on match the mixture automatically.
The two-component Contiflow mixer installed is rated at 15 cubic metres an hour, and consists of the following modules: deaerating, dosing, carbonating. For the “now” lemonades, only natural aromatics and plant extracts in 100-per-cent organic quality are used – doing entirely without any artificial additives.
Raw materials of such high quality call for gentle treatment, since in regard to quality aspirations and assurance they are in some cases more sensitive than conventional raw materials. The Contiflow’s deaeration module expels the oxygen from the water. “Deaeration of the product in the batch tank, and of the water in the mixer, means the juices’ important anti-oxidative potential is protected to better effect. In this way, the consumer ingests a greater number of radical catchers,” explains Karl-Heinz Maderer. “Moreover, this procedure also protects the valuable ingredients and the oxygen-sensitive vitamins in the product, and prevents a metallic taste from forming, a typical result of oxidation. So our beverages retain a maximally natural flavour.”
Saving valuable raw materials
One fundamental difference between the new and the old technology is the continuous process concept. The associated smaller batch tanks reduce raw material losses right at the start, due to lower quantities adhering to the tanks’ surfaces.
In the continuous dosing module, the syrup – produced in-house from organic raw materials – is added by means of a pressure-controlled pump, a mass flow meter and a control valve. The flow meter acquires the Brix value of the sugar-containing syrup, thus controlling the mixing ratio. The Contiflow’s dosing function is ultra-accurate, with a deviation of just 0.01 degrees Brix. This makes firstly for accurate compliance with the recipe concerned, and secondly for saving on valuable raw materials.
The same applies for the carbon dioxide, which is produced as organic carbon dioxide in the in-house CO₂ recovery system. Dosing accuracy for carbon dioxide in the Contiflow exhibits a deviation of just 0.04 grams of CO₂ per litre, referenced to the finished beverage. What’s more, the continuous high-pressure carbonation process now used at Lammsbräu means that much less CO₂ is lost in the filling process. A minimum of eight bar ensures that 100 per cent of the gas can be dissolved – and that Neumarkter Lammsbräu can run a foam-free filling process.
Simplified handling and “great worktime savings”
According to Karl-Heinz Maderer, the use of the Contiflow mixer also significantly simplifies the handling work involved. Admittedly, the recipe’s ingredients are still weighed in and mixed by hand but batch tank cleaning is run fully automatically. This saves not only time but cleaning agents, disinfectants and water into the bargain – right in line with the organic pioneer’s corporate principles. Automating the weighing and mixing processes are for Neumarkter Lammsbräu still an expansion option held open for the future.
Karl-Heinz Maderer is also thrilled with the Contiflow’s “remote control”, by which he means control from the rather more distant filler: networked visualisation enables the operator at the filler to simultaneously run the mixer as well.
All in all, the Technical Manager is highly satisfied with how the new Contiflow works: “Although the guarantee values had been set very high indeed, they were all met in the acceptance test – and in some cases even exceeded. We did in fact get all the improvements we had aimed for.”