The brewing conglomerate Grupo Petrópolis aims to increase its production capacity by 8.6 million hectoliters (or 860 million liters) of beer per year. To achieve this objective, the group decided in 2019 to build a complete greenfield brewery in Uberaba, Brazil. General contractor for the realization was Neutraubling based Krones AG. The project included four filling and packaging lines: two can lines with a total capacity of 256,000 cans per hour and two returnable glass lines for 140,000 bottles per hour. In addition, Steinecker supplied two identical Steinecker brewing lines, with a total of 40 tanks.
After ten months of project planning, order clarification, manufacturing, and assembly, plus the shipping of some 900 containers and freight loads to Uberaba, installation began in early October 2019. In September 2020, three weeks after the startup of the first can line, scaled to a capacity of 128,000 cans per hour, the operation reached 120,000 cans per hour in three shifts, reaching peaks of two hours in a row with maximum yield. Two months later, new tests showed an average efficiency of 95%. The second line of cans, installed in November, performed 98.10% two weeks after the ramp-up.
The first glass line, in turn, had a startup in September 2020 with the 600ml bottles; the startup of the second glass line took place in February this year.
The initial numbers of the new factory are impressive. In early February 2021, the brewery achieved an output of almost 6 million cans filled in a single day on the two lines of Uberaba, a record for Grupo Petrópolis. The first tests already indicated a performance above the expected.
Another highlight of Krones at Grupo Petrópolis site in Uberaba is the Steinecker process technologies, which value sustainability. The production process, for example, requires 3.3 liters of water for each liter of beer, a result that excels in the economy of the natural resource and is only achieved in breweries of a high international standard. In addition, Krones created mechanisms to recycle the residual water from the brewing, allowing its reuse in production. The vapor condenser energy recovery system and the Stromboli wort boiling system significantly reduce thermal energy consumption, respectively by 50% and 17%.
"Krones' German technology allowed us to develop a brewery following the pillars of Industry 4.0, aiming at maximum productivity, minimum generation of industrial waste and respecting the best water and energy consumption practices. Our production lines were designed with a level of automation and digitalization that allows a predictive performance of our maintenance, monitoring and acting to maximize the useful life of our components and equipment. The efficiency of a factory-like ours lines is 92% that ensures world-class productivity", says Diego Gomes, industrial director of Grupo Petrópolis.
Overcoming challenging times together
The whole project was realized in challenging times: the Covid-19 pandemic arose and forced the entire German team responsible for setting up the process technology equipment in Uberaba to return home and monitor the work remotely. At the site, the main concern was to ensure the health and safety of all local employees by establishing hygiene protocols to prevent contamination by the virus and care with the displacement, accommodation and food of the technicians involved in the work.
"Masks and physical distancing were required, of course. Surfaces were disinfected twice a day, and any new visitors to the worksite were tested for the virus before entering. The precautions and systematic adherence to those policies paid off: nobody in the entire construction site team was infected with Covid-19", explains Simone Roel Backes, who headed up the entire project. Born in Brazil, Simone is a project manager for plants at Krones AG and has been taking care of Grupo Petrópolis since the company started working with Krones 20 years ago.
With planning, agility and synergy between the Krones and Grupo Petrópolis teams, the startup of the lines in Uberaba was without delay, able to achieve maximum production efficiency in such a short time. "Our relationship with Krones has existed since Grupo Petrópolis had almost zero market share. Krones has always given us the same attention and respect, believing in our potential. Transparency, empathy and trust made all the difference so that both businesses were little affected in the face of so many uncertainties and crises that we were experiencing in the initial commissioning phase", tells Diego Gomes, industrial director of Grupo Petrópolis.