Ranked the 37th-largest craft brewery in the United States in 2014 according to the brewer’s association, Lost Coast Brewery capitalizes on the cool maritime climate and the exceptionally clean water of the Humboldt Bay region of northern California to craft award-winning ales. The brewpub outgrew its original space and moved to a larger facility where its production eclipsed 50,000 barrels for the first time in 2009. Now, Lost Coast beer is available in 22 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and three Canadian provinces.
With production levels increasing to meet fast-growing demand, owner and master brewer Barbara Groom saw the potential for adopting automation to replace the brewery’s existing practice of manually building case-load pallets. With plans for a new, faster bottling line in progress, Lost Coast needed an automated palletizing system to keep up with increased production and improve worker safety.
“Hand palletizing is not a good thing and I was worried about injuries,” said Groom. “We knew automation was inevitable and this was the right time to make the investment.”
To avoid disrupting the brewery’s production systems, the new automated palletizer had to fit in the same space as the legacy manual palletizing operation, a feat Lost Coast had not even thought possible. Through preliminary system design and layout work, Intelligrated confirmed the feasibility of an automated solution within the existing space. To familiarize Lost Coast with the equipment, John Fisher, senior sales engineer, Intelligrated, took Lost Coast stakeholders on a field trip to other installations to see automated solutions in action.
“That was really valuable,” says Groom. “He wasn’t just showing us something he thought we’d buy, he was showing us something that we should know about as we design our place and look to the future.”
After evaluating three vendors in 2012, Lost Coast selected Intelligrated as its preferred end-of-line automation partner, for its combination of exceptional service, design consulting services and robust equipment.
After testing multiple layouts to ensure minimal interference with existing systems, Intelligrated provided an Alvey® 780 series conventional palletizer integrated with Accuglide™ case conveyor and an automatic stretchwrapper to complete Lost Coast’s end-of-line solution. The Intelligrated team began installation on a Thursday and completed it over the weekend, with the new palletizing system receiving cases the following Monday.
The Alvey 780 keeps Lost Coast’s current production flowing smoothly at a rate of 10 cases of 24 bottles per minute, and can scale up to rates of 28 cases per minute to accommodate future production increases. The machine gently handles glass bottles, with row and layer pushers programmed to minimize acceleration and deceleration impact. Furthermore, without the burden of manual palletizing, Groom reports happier employees working the bottle line.
“For a company with a similar project, I’d suggest they talk to Intelligrated,” says Groom. “You can easily get it set up and it’ll certainly make your life a lot easier.”
Another successful BrewExpo concluded with the crowning of this year’s World Beer Cup winners. Although only one gold medal per category is up for grabs, all of Intelligrated’s brewery customers are winners and we’re honored to be a part of their success.
Few will dispute that American craft beer is a booming business. Craft beer retail figures from the third quarter of 2013 show 15.8 percent volume growth and 18.4 percent dollar growth from the previous year. The U.S. is now home to more than 2,700 breweries, the largest number since the early 1870s and 400 more than the end of 2012. In addition, 1,744 breweries were in planning at the close of 2013, the highest year-end number in the Brewer’s Association database.
The BrewExpo America conference and tradeshow is the craft beer industry’s premiere annual event. This year’s edition brings together 5,000+ brewing professionals and suppliers from the United States and around the world.
Brewers gathered prior to the conference and trade show for the World Beer Cup, a biennial event considered the Olympics of beer competitions. It is one of the few international beer competitions awarding only one gold, silver and bronze in each category – just like the summer and winter games. The World Beer Cup recognizes both the traditions and innovations shared by the entire brewing industry as well as customs unique to specific countries and regions. The competition aims to drive greater consumer awareness about the quality and diversity displayed by beers around the world.
Intelligrated has deep roots in the brewery industry, having supplied automation solutions through its Alvey® equipment brand for breweries and distributors for more than 100 years. The company has developed a reputation as a manufacturer of robust, dependable equipment which has led to many long-standing relationships with breweries worldwide.
We work with four of the world’s top five overall brewers by production volume, a testament to our global reach and depth of industry expertise. However, thanks to scalable systems and an appreciation for beer from brewers big and small, we work with nine of the top 10 craft breweries in the U.S. as well as smaller operations with lower production volumes.
To pay tribute to their achievements and our role in their success, we produce case studies to highlight successful projects.
A hallmark of craft beer is innovation. Brewers experiment with new styles and customers want to try the latest varieties. Known as “The Mother of All Beer Weeks,” May 13-19 was American Craft Beer Week 2013 (ACBW), as designated by the Brewers Association, a non-profit organization that represents American craft brewers. At Intelligrated, we tip our hats (and glasses) to the creative and entrepreneurial efforts of these independent brewers who have made a name for American beer at home and abroad.
Intelligrated employees are passionate about beer and know the business well, thanks to our 100+ year history working with brewers. Anheuser Busch was Alvey’s first customer back in the early 1900s, and today Intelligrated works with nine of the top 10 craft breweries and four of the top five overall brewing companies in the United States. These customers include multinationals like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors, as well as craft brewers such as Sierra Nevada, Boulevard Brewing Co., Lagunitas and Lost Coast. Further information about our work with Boulevard Brewing Co. can be found here.
Stacking Cases Safely and Quickly
As an automation solutions provider for both brewers and their distributors, Intelligrated keeps a close watch on industry trends and challenges to make sure our solutions meet beverage customers’ needs. As operations grow, doing things manually slows production, and increases the risk of injury and product damage. Automated palletizing solutions stack cases at a wide range of speeds depending on the size of the operation and its output, while also creating a safer work environment and preserving packaging appearance and product integrity. Other automation solutions available to brewers include robotic case packing and unpacking, robotic keg handling, and variety pack palletizing. For their distributors there are a number of automation solutions that exist as well, including mixed case palletizing and software which directs loading and unloading sequences to take the latest brewing innovations to retail outlets.
Craft brewers need scalable solutions designed to help plan for and accommodate future growth. With craft beer sales rising 15% in 2012, the industry is thriving and we are pleased to support its progress.