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Craft Beer
Beer on wheels

The “Freshest Beer on Wheels” is what the Red Truck Beer Company in Vancouver promises.

The bright-red vehicles are the trademark of this craft brewery, which has now taken an important step forward into an expansive future. By building a new brewery in downtown Vancouver, it has for the first time gifted itself an option for offering not only kegged beer, but also beer in bottles and cans. For this purpose, it has installed a complete combined line from Kosme for handling both recyclable glass bottles and cans.

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Expandable capacities

For the time being, three different beers are being brewed (Red Truck Ale, Red Truck Lager, Red Truck India Pale Ale) as well as a succession of speciality beers, like Porter and Belgian Blonde Ale. Later on, the plan is to extend the range to comprise up to eight beers. The brewhouse and the filling kit have already been dimensioned for further expansion, the capacity of 25,000 hectolitres in the first stage is limited only by the fermentation and storage tanks. So if necessary the tank battery could in a second phase be upsized for an annual output of 50,000 hectolitres, and in a third phase to 120,000 hectolitres.
Red Truck has accommodated its bottling/canning line on only 430 square metres (4,600 square feet). It placed a turnkey order with Krones for a Kosme line. In a separate order, the carton erector was installed on a raised level: the cartons are unfolded here and each of them immediately fitted with four six-pack cardboard carriers. An inclined conveyor takes them to the filling line on the ground floor where they are packed by a Kosme Acepack and closed by a Kosme Sealpack. A Kosme Depack B depalletiser is responsible for feeding bulk non-returnable glass or cans into the line as required. It’s not possible to fill bottles and cans simultaneously. In the bottling line, the glass containers are first of all pre-labelled on a Kosme Sensicol featuring three pressure-sensitive labelling stations for applying back, shoulder and neck labels. The bottles are then passed to an enclosed monobloc comprising a Jetclean rinser, a Barifill filler and a crowner, rated at 7,200 bottles per hour. The fill level is verified by a Krones Checkmat F-G.

In parallel to this, Kosme installed a can filler rated at 10,800 cans per hour. Here, too, the fill level in the cans is inspected by a Krones Checkmat. The cans are then dried with air, and packed in the cartons. The full cartons are removed from the conveyor by hand. A fork-lift truck takes the full pallets to the ramp only a few metres away, and loads the delivery vehicles directly. The line handles two bottle sizes: a 355-millilitre bottle for the standard range, and a 650-millilitre container for seasonal specialities. While the small bottles and the cans are marketed in six-packs and in 24-size cartons, Red Truck offers the 650-millilitre bottle as individual bottles in 12-size cartons. All glass bottles are non-returnable, but the superlatively organised glass recycling system in British Columbia achieves recycling rates of up to 96 per cent.

Perfect filling quality

“Our decision to choose Krones subsidiary Kosme was based on considerations of quality, service support availability, and the company’s good reputation, all of it, of course, embedded in an acceptable budgetary framework,” explains General Manager Jim Dodds, who after a 15-year spell at one of Canada’s major breweries had already served as General Manager of another craft brewery in Victoria. “All these points were met. Krones is represented throughout the entire industry and that’s going to help us when it comes to service support. Even over the phone, we get rapid-response assistance from Krones. The operating staff, moreover, received on-site training from the installation and commissioning technicians. As far as the quality of the filling function is concerned, we’re achieving very good values with minimal oxygen pick-up and no CO2 losses; the fill level is proving very consistent, there are no problems with the crowner, label application is running smoothly, the packaging quality is great,” emphasises Dodds.

“Phenomenal” installation

For Head Brewer and Production Manager Justin Vickaryous, Kosme and Krones did a “phenomenal” job with the installation. He, too, can look back on abundant experience at a major Canadian brewery. “This was truly a vertical start-up. The very first run delivered an efficiency of more than 80 per cent,” he says. “Installing the combined line posed fewer problems than the brewhouse. We thought it was going to be the other way round. Our staff learned a lot during the installation: we were enormously impressed by Krones’ installation team.” The combined line was successfully acceptance-tested back in the autumn of 2014.


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