Automation increases output and employee morale for growing brewery

Aug 18, 2014

Background

Located in Fort Collins, Colorado, The Fort Collins Brewery (FCB) produces a distinctive selection of year-round, seasonal and special-release craft brew beers. Since its beginning as a German lager house in 2003, FCB has grown to offer a greater selection of beers and has expanded their distribution locally, out-of-state and even internationally.

Challenge

By 2007, the company was so successful that their current packaging practices – all executed manually - were time consuming, inefficient and limiting production, forcing the FCB owners to re-evaluate their operational processes. The decision was made to upgrade their equipment to meet growing product demand while maintaining the highest levels of quality and consistency.

A few years after introducing a new European bottling line, the FCB moved to a 30,000 square foot facility that provided the opportunity for continued expansion. In addition to the implementation of new processing and primary packaging equipment, changes were also in order for increasing their bottle carrier and casing operations. Manually erecting 6-pack paperboard carriers and packing them into shipping cases was no longer an option since personnel were unable keep up with increased production rates.

Solution

To reach their secondary packaging goals in the most efficient manner possible, Pearson Packaging Systems offered an automated solution in 2013 with a BE60 carrier erector that provided the flexibility to erect 4, 6 or 8-pack bottle carriers on a single machine. The quick installation and quality performance of the equipment led to another purchase shortly thereafter to form a comprehensive secondary packaging system. Twin-lane conveying transported the bottle carriers between stages while a custom-engineered CE25 case erector with an extended magazine and an MP35 multi-packer prepared them for distribution.

FCB Co-Owner Tom Peters was pleased with the secondary packaging automation process from start to finish. Employee training conducted at the Pearson facility prior to implementation ensured the FCB staff was adequately prepared to get their machines setup and operational in a timely fashion. A follow-up visit from Pearson technicians at the FCB facility provided the opportunity to inspect the system, make any programming adjustments and answer questions. Peters said, "We appreciated the after-purchase follow-up from Pearson and their company culture of complete customer satisfaction."

Results

The benefits of FCB’s journey to automation have been significant. The machines maintain constant speeds and communicate with one another seamlessly, resulting in decreased back-ups and reduced downtime. "The Pearson equipment works so well that it does not require constant supervision by our employees. We currently can run with only three operators who keep the packaging stock loaded and the line continuously running without stoppage."

Peters estimates that the brewery has accomplished a 20 percent increase in output during a normal packaging cycle. Additionally, the secondary-packaging line is only running at about half its possible speed, so FCB can expect the system to handle increased production rates in the future as the company continues to grow.

In addition to the quantifiable gains resulting from the system implementation, Peters points out that one of the greatest benefits to his company has been the increase in employee moral now that mundane packaging duties are no longer done manually. "When your business begins to grow, there is no substitute for well-engineered automation."

Please contact us at 509.838.6226 to learn how your company may benefit from Pearson’s automated secondary packaging solutions.