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Craft brewery embraces automated manufacturing techniques

Since Tröegs Brewing Company was established in 1996 by brothers John and Chris Trogner, it has been in a constant state of growth. From the first barrel, which was brewed in July 1997, to the 55,000 barrels sold in 2013, the company has seen a lot of changes.

In 2011, the company outgrew its smaller location in Harrisburg, Pa., and moved to a facility in nearby Hershey with the help of Conveyor & Automation Technologies, Inc. led by Mike Tymowczak.

“When Mike’s team helped us move and reconfigure our old line from Harrisburg, they did it incredibly fast,” John Trogner told Packaging World. “Mike has a lot of experience in a lot of plants, so when he recommended even modest adjustments in a conveyor connection or a sensor or a variable frequency drive, it made a big difference. When we started producing in Hershey, it was basically the same equipment we had in Harrisburg. But in Hershey, it was 200 or 300 percent more efficient.”

Craft Brew BottleOne of the keys to the new-found efficiency was Tröegs’ revamp in its manufacturing strategy developed with Conveyor & Automation.

“Then when it came time to install a new bottling line here in Hershey, Mike bid on it and we liked his proposal,” explained Trogner. “Where major pieces of equipment like filler or labeler were concerned, he didn’t select those, we did. But Conveyor & Automation integrated everything and made it all work together. It becomes all the more impressive when you consider that while they were in the middle of designing the new bottling line, I sprung a new canning line on them that shares space and even some equipment with the bottling line.”

Bottling lines
The new lines were somewhat hobbled together from sundry parts. For example, the depalletizer, a machine that unloads products from pallets and loads them onto the conveyor, was purchased online. It now is used for both bottles and cans, the latter of which was only recently added into the company’s production line. Trogner told Packaging World that they used to joke that “cans are only good for soup,” but since have discovered a viable market for the product.

Further down the road, Trogner expects to add a second depalletizer so cans and bottles can be run simultaneously. In addition, he is looking at revisiting his custom decal stickers to add back labels.

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