Consider these tips to ensure long-term reliability.
The time has come when you realize that to reach your distribution goals for the year, you must transition from manual bottling to an automated bottling line. When you're in the market for this new equipment, keep these seven critical performance qualities in mind, as outlined by Dean Hornsby, vice-president of sales and marketing at Meheen Manufacturing.
1. Why use a counter pressure filler?
Counter pressure is important when filling carbonated beverages to keep the CO2 in solution and to provide a calm fill to minimize O2 pickup. Oxygen is the enemy of a bottled beverage and will destroy taste and shorten the product shelf life. Look for a counter pressure filling system with long stem fill tubes for best results to mitigate oxygen pickup.
2. Reliable fill level sensing.
This helps you avoid product loss and tax issues (due to oversupply) and improve the customer experience by ensuring bottles are consistently full. Most bottled craft beverages do not have neck labels so the fill level consistency is very visible to the consumer.
3. Minimal product handling.
Look for a system design that is turnkey, one that takes in empty containers and delivers a shelf-ready packaged product in one complete process.
4. Easy system cleaning and sanitization.
Ensure that the system provides a simple method of supporting Clean In Place (CIP) and confirm that soft change parts are available to eliminate beer stones building up over time that can lead to nucleation sites, causing problems with product filling.
5. Locally supported.
For troubleshooting or product support, you’ll want to speak to someone local. Language barriers occur when working with international companies. This can cause problems when trying to explain issues or receive help.
6. Buy from a well known, reputable company.
Work with a company that has years of beer filling experience and is recognized by the brewery industry to help ensure your bottling line — and the company behind it — will be around for the long haul.
7. Floor space requirement.
Smaller breweries and cideries have floor space constraints, so installing a turnkey bottling and labeling system can be a challenge. Look for a small, versatile bottling and labeling system that can be moved or relocated for when bottling and labeling is not occurring. This will provide you with necessary floor space for other brewery operational functions.