What is your perception of a successful brewery’s workflow? If you were to rate the design layout of your own production facility on a scale of 1 to 10, what grade would you give it? What are the key indicators of success that you expect to achieve through your layout? If your answers revolve around maintaining quality through cleanliness, energy efficiency, and cost reduction, then you belong to the majority of brewery owners today. In conversations with brewers who have devoted years to contemplating layout improvement, we have discovered ways in which the right design can greatly enhance these three factors.
The Overall Cleanliness is Enhanced
Ensuring that your production facility is clean and free from contamination will ultimately save you time, money, and guarantee product quality. If you are in the planning stages of your brewery design layout, consider incorporating design aspects that facilitate easy cleaning. Here are some items to consider for improved cleanliness:
Consult with your equipment manufacturers regarding the most efficient placement of equipment in each room and the best methods for cleaning pipes and tank interiors.
Many facilities install epoxy floors that are non-porous and have an antimicrobial layer on the surface, making them easier to clean with fewer chemicals and less scrubbing.
Installing a clean-in-place system significantly reduces, and in many cases eliminates, the risk of cross-contamination between steps.
Some prefer to engage consulting firms that specialize in distilling and brewing facilities to create the cleanest possible layout. Visit as many facilities as possible and ask questions with your goals in mind.
There is an Increase in Energy Efficiency
A decade ago, energy conservation considerations were primarily cost-saving measures for brewers. Today, brewers are doubly motivated to conserve energy as it aligns with environmental stewardship principles and the bottom line. Once again, layout plays a crucial role in reducing energy costs, and here are a few prevalent examples:
Reducing the distances between steps leads to a decrease in the amount of pumping required. Less pumping, in turn, requires less energy and helps prevent unintended flavors in beer quality.
Incorporate heat recovery systems into your floor plan to reuse heat from pasteurization, fermentation, and other steps in the process.
Have replacement parts available in case your brewing equipment needs repair. This expedites the brewing process and reduces downtime.
Energy conservation is now ubiquitous in brewing, and most owners and operators are continually considering innovations for their design layouts. Many breweries have installed solar thermal panels on their brew house rooftops to heat water for the brewing process and are exploring hydro-power generation using existing dam and flume infrastructure.
You Save Money
The good news is that there are countless approaches to cost savings through well-designed production facilities. Ultimately, the true benefit of a carefully planned brewery design and process management is its cumulative effect on cost reduction over time. Consider some of these well-known methods when creating your own list for the return on investment period:
Position conditioning tanks as close as possible to the bar area to reduce expenses on beer line cooling and insulation.
Anticipate the need for additional space by planning ahead, thus avoiding the costly process of redesigning the equipment layout. Growth often necessitates more space for larger equipment.
Store and treat lauter tun drainage in the brewhouse area to reduce water costs and use it for future brewing purposes.
Install a mechanism in the filling area to collect any spilled beer and recoup the costs of wasted product.
In the end, benefiting from a design layout requires clear goals and seeking out facilities that have already achieved what you are aiming for. Networking with like-minded brewers who have successfully implemented the production design you desire will allow you to learn from any mistakes they have encountered.