The Great Dane


The Faxe Brewery in Denmark fills around 70 per cent of its beers in cans. The majority of them are exported. With a new Krones line rated at 72,000 containers per hour, the Faxe Brewery has now once again upsized its filling capacity for cans.

The Faxe Brewery was founded in 1901 in the eponymous town on the east Danish island of Zealand, and for decades was one of many small Danish breweries. It was not until the 1970s that it outgrew the borders of its locality and began to distribute its beers nationwide. Probably the biggest change in the firm’s history took place in 1989, when Faxe merged with the Jyske Bryggerie and with Royal Unibrew to form what is today the second largest brewing conglomerate in Denmark.

2017 was the group’s most successful year so far. The Faxe Brewery alone produced 2.3 million hectolitres of beer and 1.6 million hectolitres of soft drinks, malt beverages and cider. These figures include production under licence of Heineken beers and Pepsi-Cola soft drinks.

Strong focus on export  

Faxe produces 23 different worts; the proportion of exports is extremely high at around 70 per cent. Royal Unibrew is thus Denmark’s biggest beer exporter, with deliveries to 75 different nations.

Beer exports are concentrated in 26 countries, most of them in Europe:

  • Of the 70 per cent of beers exported, about 30 per cent go to Germany. Then Danish consumers re-import the beer directly again in small quantities – duty-free. This phenomenon is attributable to the beer tax, which in Denmark is almost four times as high as in Germany. The fastest of the four canning lines, rated at 90,000 cans per hour, works almost solely for these cross-border exports.
  • In Germany itself, the most familiar Faxe package is the 1-litre can known as “The Great Dane”, which is mostly offered at motorway services and in some supermarket chains. The demand for this product has nearly doubled in the past two years. The cans are filled on an in-house line rated at 22,000 cans per hour.

Royal Unibrew’s most important beer export nation, however, is Italy, where the Ceres Strong Ale brand in particular is very popular. Depending on the time of year, five to ten trucks daily leave the plant headed for Italy alone. It would almost be worthwhile building a brewery down there, “but the Italian consumers want original imports,” says Keld Norup Lauridsen, Head of Production and Warehouse. “But by continually improving our operational efficiency – as with the new Krones line, for example – we can remain internationally competitive.”

Challenge: limited space available  

Since the demand for its brands has been steadily rising in recent years, Faxe decided to invest in a new canning line. This nowadays fills both beer and cider, plus soft drinks, for outputs of up to 72,000 containers an hour. “In terms of soft drinks, we’ve come up against the limits of our capacity, whereas with beer, thanks to the new Krones line, we now have free additional capacities of around 300,000 hectolitres in the filling area again,” explains Keld Norup Lauridsen.

The biggest challenge for both Krones’ planning engineers and Faxe’s technical management was to integrate the new line into the existing hall. After all, the brewery operates a total of nine lines in one hall, all of them installed in a very confined space.

Filling at Faxe around:

  • 70 per cent cans
  • 20 per cent PET containers
  • 10 per cent glass bottles

“Firstly, it was a challenge, because the space available was extremely limited. Secondly we had to install the line and make the requisite modifications while the adjoining lines continued to be run at full production speed,” explains Keld Norup Lauridsen, “and that while coping with almost 700 SKUs to be handled in the filling operations – so it was a very complex job.”

So Krones installed the new line in two phases within a one-year period: first the wet end, then the dry end. And although the new line handles more than twice as many containers as the previous 40,000-cph line, it nonetheless had to be accommodated on the same footprint, which is why Krones decided on a two-level configuration.

Accommodated on a minimised footprint

The new canning line is dimensioned for a rating of 72,000 cans per hour. It was installed in three hall areas and on two levels.

Wet end:

  • Modulfill VFS-C can filler
  • LinaTherm warmer
  • Cantronic empty-can inspector (second level)
  • Two Linadry container driers
  • Contiflow mixer

Packaging and palletising:

  • Modulpal Pro 1 AD palletiser with Robobox grouping station (second level)

Empties reception:

  • Pressant Universal 1A can sweep-off depalletiser

Installed on two levels   

The hall consists of three sections. On one side are the ramps, via which new cans and glass bottles are delivered. The Pressant Universal 1A can sweep-off depalletiser, with its high-level discharge, transports the containers to the second, higher level. There they are passed by an air conveyor over a distance of several hundred metres to the wet end, which is located at the opposite side of the hall.

Once they’ve arrived at the wet end, the empty cans are first of all passed through a Cantronic inspector, which is likewise located on the higher level. Upstream of the system for container separation an appropriate buffering section was required, which for reasons of space had to be designed in the shape of an S-curve. A tilted rinser then moves the cans downwards to the infeed of the Modulfill VFS-C. With its 130 filling valves featuring inductive flow meters, this ensures maximised accuracy during filling. The filled cans, inspected for the correct fill level, are then passed through a LinaTherm warmer, in order to avoid subsequent condensation. A vertical worm conveyor thereupon lifts the cans onto the high-level conveyors leading to the packer.

The packing and palletising zone is located in the middle segment of the hall. Its heart is a Robobox grouping station and a Modulpal Pro 1 AD palletiser, which operates with a high-level infeed. The Robobox is installed on the upper level, and from the packer receives the cans packed in wrap-around cartons or shrink-wrapped, via a vertical worm conveyor. The finished pallets are then automatically stored in a high-bay warehouse.

The new line handles around 100 SKUs – it is run in three shifts during the week, with an additional shift at the weekend, so it’s already at full capacity utilisation. The Contiflow mixer, likewise newly installed, is not intended solely for the new canning line, but can at need be used for all the lines. Besides the Pepsi-Cola products, it also prepares the products of the firm’s own soft drinks brand Faxe Kondi, for example.

Bottleneck eliminated

When asked why the firm opted for Krones, Keld Norup Lauridsen has an unequivocal answer: “Krones builds good machines and our relationship with Krones has been rock solid for many years. I’ve been working in the brewing industry for 43 years. Beer is my vocation. One of the most successful projects I’ve experienced during what are meanwhile seven years with Faxe was a joint one with Krones – namely the installation of a pre-owned Krones PET line in 2014. That went like clockwork, and was also one of the reasons why we now opted for Krones again.” But the time after the line’s been purchased also plays a significant role for Faxe, as Keld Norup Lauridsen explains: “What’s more, the service support from Krones is very good. What we particularly like is that here in the subsidiary Krones employs Danish-speaking staff from our own country. This makes lots of things a whole lot easier.

Modulfill VFS-C, 30145, Maschinenschutz, Karussell, Blaue Säule

Neudosenablauf, Neubehälter, Neugut
Gestängewender, Dosenwender