The Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corporation (TTL) is one hundred years old, and its business lines cover the fields of tobacco, spirits, beer, and biotechnology. It operates a total of four breweries: besides the Taipei Brewery, which was founded in 1919 and has in recent years been targeting the craft beer market, there are the Jhunan, Wurih and Shanhua Breweries. The latter three serve the markets in Taiwan’s north, centre and south, and supply the many beer-drinkers there with a highly diversified choice of top-quality, sustainably produced beers. This strategy has made sure that TTL’s Taiwan Beers are still the market leaders.
Back in 1973, TTL invested in the construction of a brewery, which was dimensioned for an annual capacity of 500,000 hectolitres and built in Shanhua, a municipality near Tainan in the south of Taiwan. The goal: to serve demand in the rural districts of Yunlin, Jiayi and Nantou, and in the east of Taiwan as well. Then when beer consumption levels rose steadily, the company expanded the brewery twice, thus gradually upping its production capacities to two million hectolitres. The Shanhua Plant likewise translated the group’s diversification strategy into tangible reality, erecting a factory for producing its EasyClean cleaning agents, for which the antibacterial effect of hops derived from beer production is primarily used.
Taiwan’s beer market has been opening up for some years now, and since then numerous beer brands, both domestic and from abroad, have been competing with each other. Those responsible at the Shanhua Brewery decided to invest in a state-of-the-art automatic packaging line, and to successively replace inefficient production lines requiring high staffing levels, so as to upgrade their competitiveness. By 2018, two glass and canning lines each, and one kegging line, had already been replaced. Moreover, only the best brands available worldwide for brewery equipment are being considered for new investments. Here, TTL is using machines from Krones in four of its bottling and canning lines, and was thus able to increase production efficiency and the quality of packaging yet again.
High-speed line from Krones
Among all the newly erected lines, it is the canning line only just installed in 2018, for which Krones acted as the general contractor, that attracts a lot of attention. It handles 90,000 cans per hour in the 0.33 and 0.5-litre sizes. The empty containers are first of all depalletised by a Pressant Universal 1A, and transported to the Volumetic VODM-C filler, which is accommodated in a cleanroom. Via a lengthy buffering section, the cans are passed to a LinaFlex double-deck pasteuriser. After filling, heating and cool-down, a Checkmat inspector verifies that the fill level is correct. In addition, the cans pass through another three of these systems, in which shape, coding and leakproof integrity are checked, to fulfil the company’s stringent quality requirements. The next station is the
packer. The Variopac Pro WTS-7 places the individual cans either in cartons or in four- or six-packs in over-top-open packs. The final stop is the Modulpal Pro 1AD. Its two columns ensure that the machine can keep pace with the line’s high output during palletising as well: while one of them places the finished layers on the pallet, the other inserts the cardboard layer pads.
The staff’s favourite line
“The new line is extremely efficient – it’s where our staff prefer working,” explains Brewery Director Hsieh Chin Fu with a smile. They’re tasked primarily with monitoring the production operation and topping up with cans, lids and cartons. “This is only possible thanks to the high output. We’re really very satisfied.” The new line is currently TTL’s fastest and most efficient – which means the company is well equipped for a future of maximised efficiency. “We are confident that we can stay market leader in Taiwan with Taiwan Beer in the future as well,” to quote Hsieh Chin Fu.