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    Exponential expansion at Hijos de Rivera
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    Exponential expansion at Hijos de Rivera

      “We don’t want to be the best-selling beer, just the most popular,” runs the almost modest-sounding goal of Ignacio Rivera, the CEO of Hijos de Rivera, an innovative family-owned brewery from Spain’s north-west. In fact, the popularity of its beer brands is growing rapidly throughout the whole of Spain. What’s the recipe behind this success?

      In the 2018 business year, the beverage conglomerate, founded in 1906, recorded some important milestones: in the beer segment, sales exceeded three million hectolitres for the first time – three times as much as eight short years ago.

      This soaring growth comes across as even more exciting when viewed against the background of the Spanish beer market as a whole. In 2018, consumption there rose by a “mere” 1.5 per cent. Per-capita consumption is running at 51.8 litres, and with a total figure of 40 million hectolitres has a midfield ranking on a European comparison. In the sparsely populated north-west, the homeland of Hijos de Rivera, a mere 2.5 million hectolitres of beer were drunk.

      According to the country’s brewers’ confederation Cerveceros de España, the market is largely divided up among six big conglomerates: Hijos de Rivera ranks fourth, some way behind the top three. Besides these, about 70 smaller firms and craft breweries bring diversity to the Spanish brewing scene.

       

      New brewhouse, new bottling lines

      In the summer of 2017, Hijos de Rivera had first of all doubled its brewing capabilities in La Coruña, by installing a second brewhouse. As with the first order, Krones once again supplied the entire kit involved, with a capacity of 700 hectolitres per brew. For lautering, the brewery uses a mash filter, which with a grist of 15 tons ranks among the largest Krones has ever built. This ensures a fast sequence of twelve brews a day and a high yield. The new brewhouse was at the same time the first one from Krones to feature a virtual control system based on Botec F1.

      In order to upsize its bottling capacities and at the same time be able to launch new formats on the market, Hijos de Rivera then built a new bottling hall in 2018. A new non-returnable-glass line from Krones started operation on the top floor in mid-year. This complex, versatile line handles five different bottle formats and offers multifarious dress and packaging options, utilising three different packers, for example.

      The Modulfill HES filler is accommodated in a cleanroom kept under continuous overpressure, together with the Moduljet rinser and closers for crowns and tear-off closures. The palletiser is a Modulpal Pro 1AD with two columns one behind the other.

      “Correct dimensioning of the machines and installations, the diversity of formats and the short time required for implementation were the fundamental elements crucial to developing this line. What originally came across as a highly complex project ultimately proved to be a resounding success, since the basic milestones were all of them met. The line scores highly in terms of both cost savings, flexibility and productivity, and of energy-efficiency,” says Brewery Director Jesús Martínez Garcia. “We opted for Krones because their people were already familiar with the facility, and we had come to appreciate their flexible, deadline-responsive approach.”

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      Brewery Director Jesús Martínez Garcia (right) and Bottling Manager Carlos Bao Rama

      For Krones’ technology, too, Bottling Manager Carlos Bao Rama finds words of praise: “The line runs smoothly and consistently, and enables us to efficiently produce the formats our consumers want. We’re very satisfied with Krones’ after-sales service. A complex line like this needs special support extending well beyond what’s normal – a task that Krones has successfully mastered.”

       

      Fast responses during the projects

      There is a particularly high demand for returnable bottles in Spain’s catering segment, where two-thirds of the beer produced is also sold. The new complete line for returnable glass containers in a 0.33-litre and a 0.2-litre size was accordingly well overdue. It went into operation early in 2019 on the ground floor of the new hall.

      At the facility in La Coruña, eight lines are now available, five of them from Krones:

      • Two returnable-glass lines
      • One non-returnable-glass line
      • One combined line for returnables and non-returnables
      • One canning line

      These are complemented there by two kegging lines and another non-returnable-glass line. “Our relationship with Krones goes back a long way, since we like to work with market leaders. We attach great importance to fast responses and reactions during the projects and good receptiveness to our questions, plus a sturdy quality of the machines and an efficiently dependable after-sales service,” says Jesús Martínez Garcia, adding: “Flexibility and diversification will be essential for the markets of the future. And that’s precisely what the lines from Krones provide.”

       

      Flexibility and diversification will be essential for the markets of the future. And that’s precisely what the lines from Krones provide.

      Jesús Martínez Garcia

       

      A new brewery is already being planned     

      Even after successful completion of the project, Hijos de Rivera continues to repose great confidence in Krones. For instance, the client has already placed several consultancy orders with the team at Krones Factory Planning. Within the framework of feasibility and concept studies, Krones has been planning further facility expansions and drawn up a clear concept based on capacity and media requirement calculations, energy concepts, layouts, time schedules and cost estimates. Thus Hijos de Rivera has been receiving support in its decision-making for further projects.


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