Brew master Johannes Eymess, head of the Brew Center, pours one sack of “light caramel” and three sacks of “pilsner malt” into the feed hopper of the roller grinder. Today he is testing an optimized recipe for an important customer. To create ideal mash conditions, the brewing water was first treated and pretempered by the hyrodclassic compact reverse osmosis system developed by Krones. The heart of the Brew Center is a 5-hectoliter brewing room. “The size of this system provides amaximum degree of flexibility. We can combine different technologies and demonstrate the wide range of Krones solutions. We can not only reproduce a wide variety of standard international processes, but also train our customers’ own start-up engineers and employees on the technology. This training concept also involves commissioning of the Endress+Hauser measurement instruments, including data exchange and parameter documentation. This saves us costly delays during the installation,” explains Dr Müller-Auffermann. “What makes the system so unique is that we designed it as a test field for digital solutions.” The IT infrastructure in the Brew Center was implemented in close cooperation with Syskron, a Krones subsidiary
The vision behind the Brew Center
“In the past, we tested new processes and technologies on a large scale directly at the customer site,” explains Müller-Auffermann, who holds a doctorate in brewing and beverage technology. “The advantage of testing under real conditions was offset by several disadvantages however. The prototype and test phases were extremely time-consuming, costly, and thus very risky. Feedback from the tests rarely flowed in an optimal manner, plus the opportunities for testing were always dictated by the local conditions. The solution for all of these issues was to build our own in-house pilot brewery. This is the only way for us to discretely try out new ideas with customers and partner under real conditions.”
Before the vision of an in-house innovation platform could be realized however, the visionary Müller-Auffermann had to perform a lot of groundwork. He first had to get management on board with a solid cost-benefit estimate before getting the green light for the roughly 3 million euro investment. A suitable location that would be acceptable to the authorities and architects then had to be found on the grounds of the Steinecker plant compound. And finally, a host of issues had to be addressed that impact day-to-day operation, including: tracking the beer output for tax purposes, producing edible foodstuffs as a plant manufacturer, adhering to emission regulations and disposing of the beer produced during the tests.
For maximum beer enjoyment: System supplier Krones is testing process engineering solutions at the Steinecker Brew Center.
When asked about the challenges of implementing the high-tech system, Dr Müller-Auffermannexplains that Krones wanted to base the Brew Center on three pillars, the first symbolizing “customer and market”. This enables market-oriented recipe and process development in collaboration with the customers. The second pillar is “research and development”. Apart from field testing and feasibility studies, the Brew Center also facilitates global scientific collaboration. The third pillar is “teaching and academics”, which allows Krones to offer training to internal employees and customers under conditions similar to real environments.
“The high number of inquiries and orders that we received immediately after the dedication ceremony in the summer of 2018 illustrates that the concept has been extremely well-received by customers. The Brew Center has already provided valuable services for two development projects: Platos, a new type of mash filter, and Poseidon, a dynamic fermentation system. A scholarship program is being planned with the aim of further strengthening cooperation with universities and colleges. Six university and graduate students are currently utilizing the center,” says Dr Müller-Auffermann, who was responsible for every aspect of the project, from concept to implementation, as head of Product Development Breweries.
Promag H 300 records water consumption and flow rate of the CIP media. On the right side, the EngyCal RH33 heat meter calculates the energy mass of the flow volumes.
That digitalization is the focus is evident in the QR codes that are visible on all parts and components of the system. The codes, which act as the gateway to “Share2Act”, the cloud-based social network for production systems, enable plant operators to post photos, comments or other important information that can help to quickly find solutions in case of a problem. The digital representation of the system thus becomes a valuable pool of knowledge. The Endress+Hauser instruments are also equipped with the QR codes. Together with the “Operations App”, the codes provide access to documentation such as operating instructions and spare parts information. This app is the cornerstone of the Endress+Hauser “Netilion” digital service, which among other things helps to acquire information in real-time regarding the current state of the installed base of process control instrumentation. The ability to acquire information in real-time via smartphone or tablet will have lasting changes on brewery operations since the brewer is in a position to generate or call-up data in a mobile environment. The prerequisite is “industrial WiFi”, which must be available everywhere and at all times. “The Brew Center also provides a way to simulate interruptions and outages in this area,” says Dr Müller-Auffermann. Krones is also testing new ways to monitor plant systems and processes. “We’re relying on a camera system to monitor the development of foam in the tank, which we can use to draw conclusions about the fermentation process and to evaluate the cleaning. Cameras, monitors and microphones also make it possible to set up a live conference so our customers can directly follow the experiments they have contracted out to us, “says the graduate of the Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences.
Smartec S monitors the concentration of all CIP media used.
Collaboration with Endress+Hauser
“The decision to go with Endress+Hauser for the Brew Center process instrumentation was made very early and was a logical step considering the solid partnership we have enjoyed over many years,” explains,” Dr Müller-Auffermann. “The global support and complete product portfolio wasjust as decisive as the goals we established with the Brew Center: combining the previous isolated approaches with digitalization in order to give customers access to the benefits of these developments, all while testing them under real conditions.”