Canning More Beer – Black Hops’ $3m Packaging Line Upgrade

Dan Norris Brewing business, Equipment Leave a Comment

We recently announced that we’re about to commence a three million dollar upgrade to our primary production brewery at Biggera Waters (BHII) on the Northern Gold Coast with the purchase and pending implementation of a new, state of the art packaging line solution. You can read the press release here.

It’s a big step up for us, but a necessary one in order to keep up with our projected growth targets while maintaining the highest standards in the quality of our beer.

In this post we’ll take you through the background to our upcoming packaging line upgrade, introduce you to the company we’ve gone with for the supply, manufacturing and implementation of the system and give you a rundown on the key component of the new packaging line, the Master C-Block 24/4 Filler and Seamer.

What Will The Packaging Line Upgrade Deliver?

In late 2020 we undertook the first phase of a strategic production upgrade. At this time we added 6 more 18,000L fermenters, 4 more 10,000L fermenters and one more 15,000l bright tank, which doubled our production capacity from just over 2 million litres a year to just over 4 million.

The CFT packaging line upgrade represents phase 2 of our production upgrade and will lift our canning output from 65 cans per minute to 250 cans per minute – an increase of around 250 percent! It will allow us to keep pace with our phase 1 upgrade of doubling our production capacity, especially leading into the warmer months of 2021 where demand traditionally spikes.

In addition the new system will also deliver significant product quality benefits through a reduction in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels during canning and precision fill level control. Keeping the level of potential oxidation as low as possible during canning will ensure our beer is as fresh as possible and will increase its shelf life. Our new filling and seaming solution will deliver us a world-class benchmark in how we can achieve this.

Which Supplier Did We Go With For The Upgrade?

CFT Australasia will be looking after the entire upgrade, manufacturing and supplying us with our own customized packaging line solution, designed around the state of the art Master C-Block 24/4 Filler and Seamer.

The CFT Group is an Italian company established over 75 years ago. They’re recognised as one of the market leaders in this field, supplying the Food and Beverage Industry with over 2,000 beverage installations globally, including more than 60 beverage installs in Australia. Aussie craft brewery BentSpoke Brewing Co recently announced that CFT would be looking after their own pending canning line upgrade.

We liaised extensively with CFT’s Australasian Sales Manager, Matt Macfarlane, and quickly realised that the product handling and line control delivered through their packaging line system would truly prepare our increased beer output for the market in the best possible way.

We also did a lot of research and utilised our industry peers and contacts in establishing that in addition to the quality of their product, CFT also ticked all the boxes for us from the viewpoint of reputation, reliability and after-sales support.

And to seal the deal, CFT were very forthcoming in agreeing to work closely with both us and our associates throughout the set-up and roll-out phases. We already have a team of tradies, technicians and engineers who we use to look after our servicing and maintenance requirements in-house. CFT have agreed to incorporate this trusted team across the installation and to train them up in every aspect of the systems operation and ongoing maintenance.

The Master C-Block 24 head rotary filler and 4 head Seamer

The marque piece of equipment that will drive our new packaging line is the Master C-Block 24 head rotary filler and 4 head seamer. It looks after one of the most vital stages of the packaging line process – filling our cans with beer and seaming them shut in the quickest and most quality effective way possible.

This new monoblock setup is one of the best on the market, based on proven counter pressure filling technology, paired with CFT’s state of the art seaming technology.

As mentioned previously, in addition to ramping up our output to 250 cans per minute, one of it’s biggest selling points is its ability to deliver significant product quality benefits through a reduction in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels during canning and its patented valve filling technology. The system’s short transition time from Filler to Seamer will minimise oxygen pick up during filling, ensuring our beers are as fresh as possible when they hit the marketplace and extending their shelf life by maintaining their freshness for longer. 

Features And Benefits

From its heavy duty construction to its ease of use and adaptability, there’s a whole bunch of reasons why the Master C-Block is indeed ‘the master’ when it comes to can filling and seaming.

Here are some of its more prominent features and benefits which make it ideal for our packaging line needs:

  • It has a highly compact design and is easy to install while maintaining a very high production standard. It’s downsized footprint will fit perfectly within our designated warehouse space.
  • The short transfer distance between filler and seamer, together with an under lid carbon dioxide (Co2) gassing system will guarantee low dissolved oxygen pick up.
  • The machine is fully electronic, with a very high degree of automation thanks to its plug and play system.
  • It utilises flowmeter technology, a very precise fill level control system, delivering great fill accuracy without the use of level tubes and with centralized height fill adjustment.
  • Its automatic clean in place (CIP) system is highly efficient, utilises modern high tech materials and is designed for maximum hygiene.
  • The Filler has been designed for easy maintenance due to pre-assembled central manifolds, with direct access from the top.
  • The Seamer also makes maintenance a breeze, letting us do a complete lid and body change-over in less than 2 hours.
  • It has a single sloping base and an integrated pneumatic interface (hydraulic and lubrication) both for Filler and Seamer.
  • Its touch panel gives it superior power and memory and its operator panels include functions to manage production reports, graphs,historical data and condition monitoring.

A Breakdown of the Other Packing Line Components

Can Depalletiser

Automatic Can Depalletiser: high Level Automatic depalletiser with speed of 2.5 layers/min.

Ionized Air can rinsing system: anti-static system used to remove contaminants before filling.

Automatic level detection: fill level detection to ensure no under/over fills go to market.

Automatic Carton Packer: CFT Cor20 case packer suitable for 20 wrap around cartons per minute.

Carton Packer

Automatic Palletiser: conventional Automatic palletiser with option for future Automatic pallet wrapper.

Palletiser

Dryers and accumulation conveyor: additional dryers to prevent packaging related moisture issues during the humid summer months and a custom built accumulation conveyor/table on the outfeed of the seamer, which will hold 5 minutes worth of continuously filling cans if there are any unforeseen stoppages elsewhere on the line.

The Fit-Out

The new packaging line will be housed in a new 600 square metre shed at the Biggera Waters brewery site, with the fit-out and installation, overseen by CFT, to commence in June. The new system is expected to be operational by the end of 2021.

As mentioned earlier, being able to work exclusively with CFT as our ‘total solutions’ provider across the full design and build process was another big reason why we went with them for our new packaging line solution.

As well as tailoring the packaging line specifically to our requirements, CFT also
build 95% of the core equipment and conveyors in-house. They’ve also designed the system in a way that lets us manage and maintain the equipment easily ourselves. Minimising the need for servicing and maintenance will significantly reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in the long run.

We’ll keep you up to date with the progress of the fit out and installation as it takes place.