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    Shining star
    Shining star
      A yellow star on a red background: Estrella Damm is the well-known main brand of the Damm Group, sold primarily along the entire Spanish coast of the Mediterranean.

      Damm covers just under a quarter of the Spanish beer market with its many different types. The main facility in Barcelona is already fast approaching its capacity limits of five million hectolitres. So it was all the more important for the company to upgrade their filling equipment to the latest state of the art, and thus enhance line availability as well. As a logical consequence, Damm commissioned the new wet end of a returnable-glass line in early 2015, which was punctually installed by Krones as the complete-package vendor. It was not only the compact-size layout and the quality of the filling kit concerned that proved persuasive for Damm, but also and especially the prospect of being able to save water and energy into the bargain.

      Moreover, Damm works with the beer-drive system, which supplies customers requiring relatively large quantities with beer tanks. For filling all these disparate containers, the brewery El Prat possesses two canning lines, three non-returnable-glass lines, two kegging lines and three lines for returnable glass, each rated at 60,000 bottles an hour.

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      Complete refurbishment step by step

      As a general rule, the brewery’s well-staffed, highly competent engineering department puts the lines together itself, which is why all the lines feature machines from different manufacturers. “We take our decision on how to proceed anew in each case. But the main machines usually come from Krones,” says Jordi Barbara. For example, Krones supplied all the labellers for both the non-returnable- and returnable-glass lines.

      For one of the three returnable-glass lines, which had been commissioned back in 1991, the time had now come for a complete refurbishment. Back in 2006, Damm replaced the dry end; this was followed in 2014 by the bottle washer, pasteuriser, packer and unpacker. And in early 2015, finally, Damm commissioned the wet end with filler, empty-bottle inspector and labeller. For this part of the refurbishment job, Krones was the only vendor responsible.

      Lavatec E4: high energy and water savings

      When it came to the bottle washer, Damm opted for a single-end version: “The most important reason for that was space constraints,” explains the Head of Maintenance, Domingo Alcala Hidalgo. Since the company was very satisfied with the Lavatec installed in 2009, Damm once again opted for a Lavatec, this time from the E4 series. “The Lavatec E4 has an additional bath for the pre-caustic. This improves the washing performance and keeps the main caustic clean for longer,” continues the Head of Maintenance. He sees the filter’s self-cleaning function as yet another plus, since it optimises heat transfer.

      Damm’s main focus of attention, however, was on the possible energy and water savings provided by this machine.“The Lavatec E4 has enabled us to reduce water consumption from what used to be 170 to 200 millilitres per bottle down to 120 millilitres – while achieving the same cleaning quality and bottle temperature. That’s a big achievement” emphasises Domingo Alcala. “The Lavatec E4 was the best solution for us. It has a minimised footprint, and thanks to less electronics is easier to operate, while also scoring in terms of high availability levels.”

      Fast start-up

      Conversion of the wet end, with filler, inspectors and labellers, began in November 2014, in January the line was started up again, and successfully acceptance-tested in March 2015. During the ten weeks of modification, the existing machines were removed, the floor refurbished, all new pipes for water, beer and air plus the energy supply cables laid, after which the new machines were installed. “Krones’ vast fund of experience benefited us immensely during this complex job of ingressing the equipment into the small space available. Krones’ layout, too, proved persuasive for us.,” says Production Director Jordi Barbara.

      In view of the line’s high speed of 60,000 bottles per hour, two Linatronic empty-bottle inspectors are working in parallel. The bottles are filled on a Modulfil HES short-tube filler with electronic fill-level measurement and integrated foam-cleaning. “The low oxygen pick-up stipulated, and setting accurate fill levels, are no problem at all with the new electronic filler from Krones,” states Jordi Barbara. Fill-level accuracy and closure position are then monitored by a Checkmat FM-X using X-rays, after which the bottles are distributed onto two parallel conveyor belts, each with a Linadry for drying them, before they are passed to two Topmatic labellers, each with three cold-glue labelling stations. Downstream of the labeller, two Checkmat FEM-X inspectors check label placement.

      “Genuine added value for our company”

      “Here at Damm, we’re working on the principle of lean manufacturing. This shows us that both efficiency and availability of the new wet end are OK,” explains Jordi Barbara. “Krones is a big company, whose technology enables us to keep the quality of our finished products at a consistent level of excellence.” Like the Head of Maintenance Domingo Alcala, he singles out Krones’ technical support for special praise: “The service hotline works perfectly. But this also means that our own staff have to be properly trained and qualified, so as to be able to carry out remote maintenance.” It also helps that Krones Iberica has an LCS subsidiary in Barcelona, only a few kilometres away from the brewery where Damm also purchases its OEM spare parts. Thanks to these short distances, spares are usually right there where they’re needed within 24 hours. “In particular, Krones’ concept for reducing energy, steam and water consumption also represents genuine added value for our company,” says Production Director Jordi Barbara. Damm’s star can keep on shining.

      Selected machines and solutions