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    A pride of lions
    A pride of lions

      Compared to this project, building a new brewery on a greenfield site would appear to be a almost a simple matter.

      But “The Pride” multi-beverage plant of New Zealand’s Lion food and beverage conglomerate was unlike any other project in many respects: not only did it involve setting up a new multi beverage manufacturing & warehousing facility with a brewing capacity of 1.8 million hectolitres, it also stipulated the installation of lines and systems for making and filling wine, spirits, cider and RTD (ready-to-drink) beverages. And that was not all: the project likewise included shutting down and dismantling two existing production facilities, relocating a considerable amount of the equipment installed there and combining it with the new machines and lines ordered for “The Pride”.

      Auckland, with around 1.4 million inhabitants, a third of the nation’s entire populace. Is New Zealand’s biggest conurbation.

      It was in this beautiful city that Lion operated the Khyber Pass Brewery, which could look back on around 150 years of history. Lion also ran the Contract Bottling Company (CBC) in Auckland and a distribution warehouse. The company Lion itself originated from a trading company founded in the mid-19th century. Lion is the absolute market leader on New Zealand’s beer market, and also a national icon.

      This is why an emotional public was keenly interested in Lion’s decision to shut down the tradition-steeped Khyber Pass Brewery and to erect a new one on a greenfield site. But first of all, a name had to be found for the new multi-beverage plant. In an internal competition held among the workforce, “The Pride” emerged as the most popular choice, emphasising how proud Lion’s staff could justifiably be of their new plant.

      Third Steinecker brewhouse in succession

      There had been Steinecker brewing kit at the Khyber Pass Brewery, since 1975 equipped with a copper brewhouse that had been replaced by a new stainless steel one in 1976. This tradition was to be continued in “The Pride”. Krones installed a four-kettle brewhouse comprising mash tun, lauter tun, wort copper and whirlpool, plus a vapour condenser and an energy storage tank with an installed capacity of 600 hectolitres per brew.“ “Even though we wanted an industrial-scale brewhouse right from the start, it was nonetheless required to communicate to the public an attractive ambience of sophisticated architecture”, explains Duncan Field. Which is why the entire brewhouse, facing the road and therefore serving as a “shop window”, so to speak, was given a glass façade, upon which the firm’s symbol, the lion, has been printed in an approximately-ten-metre-high transparent digital image, which at night lights up in a variety of colours.

      A complete success on the first go

      “The first brew (Steinlager) was produced in September 2009, and was a very close match exceeding our expectations” said Duncan Field. First bottling on Line 2 was achieved one month after First Brew in October 2009. “But the biggest challenge of all only came our way from January 2010, when three plants were being operated in parallel: the brand-new “The Pride”, the old Khyber Pass Brewery and CBC, the contract bottler for the alcoholic drinks. Production at Khyber Pass then had to be discontinued by mid-2010, and filling operations at CBC by mid-2011.

      During that time, too, one of the top priorities was to maintain beer quality in both breweries at a consistently high level, and to integrate the staff gradually into the new facility”, is how Duncan Field explains the difficult task they were facing.

      Earthquake reshuffles the cards

      And as if all of that hadn’t been enough: on 22 February 2011 at 12.51 p.m., everything suddenly changed yet again for Lion. The powerful earthquake on New Zealand’s South Island which dominated the headlines worldwide had affected the Canterbury Brewery to such an extent that at one stroke production capacities of 210,000 hectolitres of beer and 6,000 tonnes (135,000 hectolitres equivalent) of malt extract had been wiped out.

      “The loss of our Canterbury brewery was completely unexpected. We were shocked”, explains Duncan Field. Yet there was nothing for it but to restructure Lion’s operations as quickly as possible. Speight’s in the south was expanded Beer production, at more than 200,000 hectolitres, was rapidly relocated by Lion to “The Pride” brewery in Auckland.

      A successful project everyone can be proud of

      “Needless to say, there are occasionally some differences of opinion when handling such a complex project as this, requiring as it did the difficult amalgamation of both existing and new plant & equipment into one coherent whole. Quite generally, we can say the quality of the machines and lines, both in the brewing process and in the filling operation, is very good, as was the swift installation job completed right on schedule. As I see it, Krones do have an advantage over their competitors in being able to supply full turnkey solutions”, explains Capital Project Director Duncan Field. “In the shape of “The Pride”, we’ve got a brilliant workplace.” And a successful project everyone is very proud of: “The Pride”.

      Selected machines and solutions