Themed Week Process Optimization: New technology to prevent cost explosion

Forced automation, price drops and rising energy costs: The competitive pressure on international brewers is mounting. The culprit? Industry 4.0.
© Siemens AG

Forced automation, price drops and rising energy costs: The competitive pressure on international brewers is mounting. The culprit behind all of this? Industry 4.0. The future of manufacturing provides some attractive opportunities as well, though, which you can learn about at the upcoming drinktec.

For many beer lovers, it sounds like paradise on earth. You can often head into German discount stores and supermarkets and snap up a case of brews for less than 10 euros. That might keep the consumer happy, but it’s posing new challenges for brewery owners. They want to produce good beer, but increased price pressure and spiraling energy costs have left brewers attempting a tricky balancing act, swaying between price and quality, and facing full automation of their production lines.

Industry 4.0: Merging humans and machines

Across the world, brewers are taking on new systems and processes under the keyword Industry 4.0. The Fourth Industrial Revolution started as a future-focused project launched by the German government. The core aim of this initiative: to connect the entire manufacturing process as part of a digital network, from concept and production to delivery to the customer. Modern companies should then be able to obtain relevant information from this network in real time at every stage of the production and sales process. In technical terms, this involves merging traditional disciplines such as mechanical engineering and plant construction with modern information technology. Interactions between humans and systems create dynamic networks that can, for example, be used to improve cost structures and how resources are used. Companies are already seeing improvements by implementing these innovations: “The availability of so many signals also allows us to more effectively link batch and process data to quality assurance,” says Holger Schmidt, Global Industry Manager for Food & Beverage at Endress + Hauser Messtechnik GmbH + Co. KG.

Brewing’s tech pioneers

Thanks to “brewmaxx”, ProLeiT AG has definitely become an Industry 4.0 pioneer. Its system offers continuous automation solutions and can be used in smaller companies brewing up to 50 hectoliters, as well as in large breweries where the annual output tends to be more than a million hectoliters. According to ProLeiT AG, more than 1,000 international companies now use “brewmaxx” – including Guinness, Warsteiner, Pilsner Urquell and Radeberger. The control system is used for automation, information and control technology, and it helps breweries operate more efficiently and economically.

Process optimization: More time for brewers to perfect their recipes

Siemens AG offers another exciting option for process optimization in the world of beer production. The BRAUMAT process control system offers even more advanced features, such as an innovative recipe system, which makes it possible to track progress through the entire production process by consulting a monitor that displays events in real time. On top of that, BRAUMAT offers cost-effective tank management. By standardizing these production processes and depicting progress through helpful image updates, Siemens’ process control system can consistently guarantee a high-quality end product while helping the brewer significantly cut costs. Gunther Walden, Head of Food & Beverage and Water & Wastewater at Siemens AG, explains another key benefit of such systems: “Thanks to automation, brewers have suddenly realized that they have time to focus on their real passion: creating new and exciting recipes.”

Industry 4.0 meets drinktec

The upcoming drinktec will be focusing on Industry 4.0. Visitors can find out more about “brewmaxx” or BRAUMAT and other systems on the market as well as how breweries can optimize their processes. In addition to the information available at exhibitor stands, there will be independent researchers and experts from the field at the drinktec forum in Hall A2. They will be presenting new, pioneering ideas and practical solutions in the area of process optimization.

Mareike Hasenbeck

Mareike Hasenbeck is a freelance journalist with her own craft beer blog (Feiner Hopfen), she is also a beer sommelier and an international expert for beer sensory certified by the DLG (German Agricultural Society).