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    New can filling line for Borsodi Brewery
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    New can filling line for Borsodi Brewery

      Borsodi is one of Hungary’s beer market leaders and likes to surprise consumers with novel ideas. They were the first to bring Belgian-style, non-alcoholic, and canned beers to the Hungarian market. Hungarian consumers have rewarded Borsodi’s intrepid, innovative spirit with consistently high demand. Cans in particular have enjoyed a recent surge in popularity. Still a marginal category with around 15 percent market share in the early 2000s, cans now account for nearly three-quarters of the company’s beer sales.

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      This trend and a positive turn of events prompted the brewery in Böcs, in northeastern Hungary, to invest in more capacity. Two years ago, parent company Molson Coors decided to make Borsodi its production hub for Central Europe. The company has a long tradition of excellent quality brewing and filling – not only of its own beers but also of the brands Staropramen, Becks, Stella Artois, and Löwenbräu under license. 

      Due to this fact and Borsodi’s good position in the region, a major call was made for Borsodi: Since the existing 60,000 cph line couldn’t possibly handle the anticipated volume, a second can filling line would be purchased.  

      Things moved very quickly after that. Borsodi placed the order in September 2018 and wanted the line to be up and running in the 2019 season. “We needed a partner with whom we had already had good experience in the past. The timeline was tight, so we had to be certain that everything would go like clockwork,” says Supply Chain Director János Szilva. Borsodi’s partnership with Krones goes back several decades, to the 1980s. Krones has delivered a number of stand-alone filling machines, and the brewhouse uses a Botec F1 control system. But this was the first time Borsodi purchased a turnkey line from Krones. “Our standards are high. We want to fill beers of impeccable quality. At the same time, we want high efficiency, ease of operation, and low energy consumption. We knew that Krones would deliver all of that,” says János Szilva.

      Over 90 percent efficiency

      Krones supplied all of the equipment for the new line, from depalletizing the empty cans to palletizing the filled, packaged product. The empty cans first pass through an inspection system and air rinser before entering the Modulfill VFS-C filler. Meanwhile, the beer is flash pasteurized in a VarioFlash B prior to filling. Another inspection unit checks for correct fill volume before the cans move on to the packer. The Variopac Pro TFS enables Borsodi to produce a variety of pack sizes. At present, 24-can shrink-wrapped trays are the most popular. 

      The new line produces 50,000 cans per hour. And with over 90 percent efficiency in operation, it meets Borsodi’s need for highly efficient production. The changeover times are also quite impressive: “We sometimes do three changeovers in a day, so it’s good that each one takes less than an hour. We can thus fully utilize the line’s capacity,” explains Szilva.

      The line not only delivers excellent efficiency and product quality but also minimizes energy consumption. Instead of an energy-hungry tunnel pasteurizer, the new line employs a VarioFlash B flash pasteurization system. Because the beer is filled warm, at up to 20 degrees Celsius, a downstream warmer is not needed. That reduces the amount of heating energy by about one-half compared with conventional can filling lines. The line’s configuration also reduces the space required for the product treatment zone by around 50 percent. “We want to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible. The new line helps us achieve that goal,” concludes János Szilva. “Compared to the first canning line, we have reduced the amount of heat energy and CO2 consumption by 60 percent. The water demand even decreased by 90 percent.”

      Good training pays off

      The first saleable product rolled off the line just ten months after the project started. That fast turnaround was only possible because of the excellent collaboration between Borsodi and Krones. As János Szilva describes, “We bought a state-of-the-art line. So it was clear that we would need to train our people to ensure that they could be fully competent in using the new technology. Our shift operators and part of the maintenance team attended training at the Krones Academy in Neutraubling. Our people also learned directly on the machines during the commissioning process. That was very important for a fast, successful start with the new line. Our operators gained an incredible amount of knowledge in this phase for their day-to-day work – and that’s paying off now. We have far fewer unplanned downtimes and have been able to quickly resolve many issues ourselves.”

      Just such a situation presented itself at the height of the coronavirus pandemic: A part had broken that needed to be replaced immediately – but it was already 8pm. The team called the Krones Service Line. Around midnight, Krones confirmed that the part had left its Neutraubling plant. And just ten hours later, the part arrived in Böcs. Borsodi’s team was able to install the new part and get the line back up and running quickly. “Krones’ fast response times are really good. Both the local sales team in Hungary and the service technicians from Germany are always there quickly when we need them. We really appreciate this flexible service,” says Szilva.

      With the new line, Borsodi has nearly doubled its production capacity for cans. And that is a very good thing, because consumption of canned beer is expected to grow by double digits not only in Hungary but also in neighboring markets. The brewery currently produces around the clock during the season and is already operating close to capacity, despite the new line. János Szilva expects that Borsodi will max out the new line’s capacity soon. “We produce more than 40 different products in over 117 SKUs and export to 14 countries. It’s important that we can rely on our equipment and our partners. With Krones on our side, we know that we are well equipped to meet whatever challenges the future brings.”


      Selected machines and solutions
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