Relocation of Gaffel-Kölsch

Et bliev nix wie et wor” (“Nothing stays as it was”): that’s the wording of Article 5 in the Kölsch Constitution, a compilation of eleven idioms in the local dialect. And that also applies to the Cologne-based brewery Privatbrauerei Gaffel: capacities in its previous inner-city facility were exhausted – more space was urgently required. Needless to say, the family-managed brewery wanted to keep its independence and continue to produce efficiently. So Gaffel took a bold step towards an auspicious future – and merged its two breweries into a single plant.

It was not so very long ago that Privatbrauerei Gaffel was still operating two breweries: since 1908, it had been brewing its traditional Gaffel-Kölsch right in the heart of Cologne’s inner city, just a stone’s throw away from Cologne Cathedral. And in 1998, it then took over the Richmodis-Brauerei in the suburb of Porz-Gremberghoven. Kegs and “Pittermännchen” (10-litre Kölsch barrels), moreover, are filled in Cologne’s northern Bilderstöckchen district. Gaffel has always had its bottles contract-filled.

But it was precisely this inner-city location that entailed a few problems: Supplying the brewery with raw materials and expendables, as well as tanker-truck traffic, grew into a progressively more difficult logistical challenge; The space constraints entailed by the fact that the building complex was located in the middle of a street near Cologne’s main station did not permit any expansion. On a mere 2,000 square metres, Gaffel was brewing almost half a million hectolitres a year.

So there was only one logical consequence for Gaffel: to merge its three facilities into one in the medium term. The premises of what used to be the Richmodis Brewery were downright predestined for this plan. Not only was the autobahn only a short distance away but the existing infrastructure was likewise well-nigh ideal: the production facility is situated in a designated industrial estate – there are no problems about producing round the clock there. What’s more, the premises possess their own deep well with certified water rights. So this was a no-brainer.

Turnkey solution

No sooner said than done. Back in 2012, Gaffel had already started to make plans for the relocation, put it out to tender in the normal way among the vendors of brewery process technology – and in the end opted for Krones. “It was not really the most favourable quotation but it definitely was the best overall technical solution,” says Reiner Radke, Technology and Logistics Director, and emphasises a few major points in addition: “We’re largely using Evoguard double-seat valves throughout our production operation. These are substantially smaller than competitors’ models, and all the components

can be replaced without having to use special tools. Similar considerations apply for the Evoguard pumps, which additionally consume less energy than comparable units. What’s more, our staff were already familiar with Krones equipment: the existing Richmodis brewhouse was from Steinecker, and in our Eigelstein facility we’d already been using the Botec F1 process control system with integrated Siemens-S7 technology.”

So Gaffel placed an order with Krones for a turnkey solution, except for the new boiler house, which the brewery installed itself. Gaffel wanted to keep on using some of the existing Richmodis kit, and supplement this with new units. The only components that Gaffel took along from its original brewery in the heart of Cologne were a sheet filter and Steinecker’s TFS filtration system. “We wanted to keep the sheet filter because we’re filling in cold-sterile mode – no flash pasteurisation even, let alone pasteurisation proper,” explains Reiner Radke. “We took a deliberate decision against membrane filtration for a variety of reasons, one of them being that we’re assuming we’ll be able to run the TFS with cellulose instead of diatomite in the not too distant future.”

35 per cent less thermal energy

As far as energy savings were concerned, particularly, the new brewhouse provided Gaffel with quite a few advantages: The decision taken in favour of the EquiTherm energy recovery system made a crucial contribution towards reducing energy consumption at Gaffel’s new brewery – down by around 35 per cent for thermal energy and by about 30 per cent for electricity, in each case referenced to one hectolitre. “In terms of energy-efficiency, the EquiTherm is second to none. What’s more, the thermal impact on the mash during heat-up is small,” is Reiner Radke’s verdict. “Our energy-utilisation figures are in equilibrium: all of the thermal energy we’re producing is also consumed. At the same time, the technical outlay required to achieve this was manageable.”

The new boiler house likewise makes its contribution towards saving energy: it was possible to almost halve the previous figure for steam consumption of around ten tons of steam per hour.

Gaffel can now use solely natural gas, which is usually more affordable. What’s more, the central CIP system has a positive effect on energy consumption. Its centralisation, separated for unfiltrate and filtrate, has made for a reduction in the range of cleaning agents and disinfectants required. Gaffel is now using only caustic soda solution and nitric/phosphoric acid as cleaning agents, and peracetic acid as a disinfectant. The brewery does entirely without chlorine-based products or similar agents. “This simplifies our handling routines, reduces consumption and has less of an impact on the wastewater,” says Reiner Radke. Inductive flow meters have been installed in every department for measuring consumption levels, thus making sure that these latter can be accurately assigned and checked. Outside the central chemicals store Krones built a discharge station, so as to secure the wastewater against possible disasters.

Fermentation and storage cellar expanded

Gaffel likewise had its capacities for bright-beer, fermentation and storage tanks expanded by Krones in one go. In its old facility, the brewery had still worked with open fermentation and bitter foam on the green beer wort. It is now changing over to the two-tank fermentation process in cylindro-conical tanks. Needless to say, the brewery wanted to keep the high quality standards at their excellent levels. And the sampling tests proved that this had actually been achieved: “The customers didn’t even notice that we’d relocated – they were able to continue to relish the excellent taste of Gaffel-Kölsch that they’d been used to,” explains Reiner Radke. “We supplied the 2016 Cologne carnival season still from the old brewery. After that, we discontinued production there, relocated the filtration system to the new brewery, and started production here more or less seamlessly – without having to blend old beer stocks with freshly brewed beer.” And taking delivery of the new tanks likewise went off without a hitch. “The new cylindro-conical tanks are about 22 metres high and six metres in diameter. That was the maximum size we were able to transport from the banks of the Rhine through Cologne – but it worked,” explains Reiner Radke. “One of the major advantages here was that the tanks arrived in fully insulated condition on site, where they were placed on steel support frames. All that needed to be done after that was to link them up to each other.”

Central filtering-aid management

Filtering aids and stabilising agents are managed centrally at Gaffel. Krones installed a big-bag system with weighing-cell technology, dosing unit and initial blending tank. Dosing and initial blending have been fully automated. The staff use a crane to suspend the new big bags as needed, and other than that have no contact with the diatomite. “This increases occupational safety and reduces possible health risks. In a modern-day brewing operation, there is less and less physical work to do, what we need here nowadays is the staff’s intellectual input,” says Reiner Radke.

Krones likewise supplied a new diatomite disposal tank, a carbonation system and a water deaeration system for the filter cellar. The Hydronomic water treatment system consists of a manganese-removal module, an activated-carbon filter and a reverse-osmosis system. These components treat the water extracted from the brewery’s own deep well. Gaffel likewise had a ventilation system installed centrally for the entire brewery, tasked with preventing mould formation. All sections of the brewery are run from two control centres, featuring a redundant Krones Botec F1 system for managing the process. The vector-based, zoomable, graphical interfaces have been designed for intuitive operator control: each employee can configure the individual modules for program control on a screen window at his/her own discretion, using multiple displays (dashboard function).

Good cooperation

At peak times, up to 90 fitters were working on site. The safety precautions taken certainly paid off: during all of that time, there was not a single workplace accident.

It is now possible to operate the brewery in three shifts with only ten employees, six of whom are working in production and four in quality assurance. “Theoretically, we’d be able to run the brewery with one operator per shift, if it weren’t for the tanker-truck and container traffic,” explains Reiner Radke. “Our cooperation with Krones was good and professional, and since a project of this kind does of course also change over time it was important that both sides adopted a flexible stance when it came to any modifications required. Any difficulties cropping up were dealt with satisfactorily for both parties, any differences of opinion equitably resolved. Line erection proceeded on schedule as planned.”

Article 10 of the Kölsch Constitution reads: “Drinks de ejne met?” (“Like to have a drink with us?”) – Reiner Radke’s answer to this question can meanwhile be a confident “Yes”, now that this project has been successfully concluded.

Matthias Pohl

Krones AG

Tel. +49 8161 953-266

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