Numerous breweries globally are seeking to increase flow rates by upgrading their pumping systems as a way of increasing efficiency and, thereby, improve profit margins, says industrial pumps supplier Verder Pumps hygienic product manager Kenneth Demeulemeester.
“Over the past 12 months, filtration unit builders from various countries have been asking us to upgrade their systems to achieve flow rates of as high as 1 800 m3/h. “We are also receiving requests for higher power outputs,” he says, noting that the company can now offer power ratings of up to 250 kW.
Requests for upgraded equipment have been coming in from the US, Europe and Asia.
Demeulemeester adds that, for many breweries, the potential for increased sales is on the horizon, but that production time remains a constraint.
“Since the breweries are already running 24/7, the only way to increase output is to scale up the system. This means working with components that can handle larger flows,” he explains.
Increased flow rates are being demanded for not only filtration applications but also the hot process, he adds.
The hot process involves mashing, which takes place after milling, whereby hot water is added at specific temperatures to convert the starches in the barley into simple sugars.
After a short rest period, the wort needs to be separated from the solid grains. Hot water is sprayed over the grain to help recover all the sugars, whereafter the wort is pumped to the kettle, where it is brought to boil. Hops are then added to the boil for bitterness, flavour and aroma.
After boiling, the wort is pumped into a whirlpool vessel, where it is spun at high speed. Solid materials, such as the hops, collect in the centre of the whirlpool, allowing for a wort transfer through the heat exchanger that is free of solids.
While some breweries have struggled through Covid-19, and others have closed down permanently, Demeulemeester says a significant portion of breweries are moving forward with investments and expansions.
“We are seeing much economic movement in the brewery sector. In some cases, these are postponed investments that are starting to come back on line,” he says.
This return to investment comes at a time when the South African brewery sector is struggling to recover after having suffered a near fatal blow on the back of Covid-19 alcohol bans that forced hundreds of breweries to close down and major multi-billion-rand brewery investments to be cancelled outright.
“Although very big greenfield projects are still mostly on hold, midsized and micro-sized brewery investments are in full swing. “Part of this has to do with flexibility in terms of decision-making, whereas large-scale brewers are a little slower and more deliberate,” Demeulemeester explains.
He adds the return to investment is a good indicator that breweries globally have positive forecasts for beer sales in years to come.
He says that, since the outbreak of Covid-19, the global demand for so-called social beverages, such as pilsners and lagers, decreased, while products generally consumed at home, such as wine and special beers, increased.
However, with restaurants and bars closed for many months globally, alcohol use in general has decreased and the entire industry has shrunk.
Verder offers a range of pumping and mixing solutions for the hot and cold processes of brewing to reap the benefits of hygienic compliance, energy efficiencies and value for money, while safe-guarding the product.
The company supplies pumping solutions to all types of brewing sites, from small, boutique craft breweries to multinational beverage producers with multiple distilleries.
The Packo range of hygienic stainless steel centrifugal pumps have been installed in brewing and distilling processes globally in the hot and cold processes. The range is subject to an electro-polishing as standard, which improves cleanability and resistance to corrosion.
Additionally, Verder supplies the Verderhus screw-channel and Verderflex peristaltic pump ranges. These are purpose-built to handle abrasive and solid-laden fluids, which would clog and cause excessive wear in other pumps.
The Verderflex range of dosing pumps allow for the precise delivery of additives, yeast solutions and clean-in-place chemicals into a system. The models feature programmable and manual versions.
These pumps are used for the gentle handling of yeast, mash and wort solutions, as well as solid-laden slurry. These difficult fluids require gentle handling and are abrasive and viscous in nature.
The Verderflex range is available both in industrial-type format for larger flow rates and the most demanding fluids, as well as in the form of smaller laboratory-type pumps, which can be used for the dosing of flavourings, additives or even clean-in-place chemicals.
The Verdermix range of static and dynamic mixers provide options for the in-line and in- tank mixing of additives and chemicals.