With summer under way and our production way up, we’ve been bottling beer like crazy here in the Tetons. We’re producing sixteen batches of beer a week, with two brewers working day and night, while bottling and kegging at least four days every week. With all the added pressure our quality assurance program has kicked into full gear. Many could argue that one of the most important jobs to monitor in our brewery is the amount of beer put into each twelve ounce bottle.
Even though our bottling filler can kick out 110 bottles a minute it does not go without the help of our dedicated team members. After two people load glass bottles by the handful onto a conveyer, they are rinsed through a twist system before they make their way to the filler. Using a Meyer bottle filler which was installed two years ago, the bottles are filled with one of our delicious brews and then turned out onto a conveyer at 110 bottles a minute. For two years we have employed one person to run this Meyer filler, making sure the bottles are filled and capped correctly, while constantly watching the ‘bowl level’ positioned atop the filler. The bowl should stay at a consistent level assuming everything is running smoothly. However, if one bottle is missing, or the conveyor belt loading glass needs to be slowed down, the bowl level rises, leading to a potential filler failure. At this point the beer is capped and then loaded into the labeler where each bottle receives a body and neck label. From there two people assess each bottle, making sure there is an adequate fill in each, that the label looks sharp and that it is capped correctly. Each beer bottle is then hand packed and shipped off to be enjoyed!
Last week we added a new piece of machinery to the bottling line. We now have an automated system to maintain a consistent bowl level regardless of mistakes or setbacks. For you all you mechanical engineers out there, this new device uses a float control manufactured by Jogler, and a wireless node made by Banner to gauge the level in the bowl. These controls send a signal to the pump to slow down or speed up the filling process pump depending on the rate we are bottling. This system enables each bottle to be filled correctly without the constant eye of a person manning the filler, freeing him/her to assist at other stages of the line.
Our intent with introducing this new piece to our filler is to produce a more consistent product, by minimizing stops and starts and eventually filling at a greater speed. Given how quickly our beer is selling, this was a wise investment!