Dutch courage

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Grolsch is approaching a milestone on what it claims will be the
most efficient brewery in Europe.

Brewery giant Grolsch is building what it claims will be the most efficient brewery in Europe. But to do so, the Dutch company first had to brush up on a few languages.

Italian beverage technology group SIG Simonazzi and Danish engineer Danbrew are working with the brewery to build what is currently the only greenfield brewery under construction in Western Europe. The first beer is due to be brewed and filled in kegs and swing-top bottles by the end of 2003.

The plant in Enschede, Netherlands certainly promises to be interesting, and could mark a new phase in brewing technology. Grolsch believes that the plant will provide the company with a number of benefits.

Most significantly, the company says that the new plant will give it real control over two major aspects of managing production. Firstly, it will enable Grolsch to have total trackability of the process flow from incoming raw materials to each individual pallet in the finished product store. This is particularly important ahead of forthcoming EU regulations.

Secondly, Grolsch says that it will have much greater control over the production costs for each individual production batch and stock keeping unit.

Living up to its marketing tag of not rushing things, Grolsch has been meticulous in planning the project. As indicated in the tender requirements, the evaluation of the various bids was based not only on the best quality/price ratio but also on the lowest total cost of ownership of the proposed solution.

This has entailed specifying the minimum manning level necessary to operate the line, the minimum requirements in terms of maintenance time and expenditure and the maximum line availability for production.

The new plant will feature a number of high speed production facilities along with complex systems handling returnable glass bottles with Grolsch's swing-top closures. There will also be a swing top manufacturing line and bottling lines for different-sized products. Grolsch was also keen to improve the overall performance of the production lines through TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) techniques.

The filling lines for cans and non-returnable bottles will be commissioned in the first half of 2004, followed by the reusable bottle line in 2005. The office building will become operational at the end of the first quarter of 2004. As a consequence, the brewery in Groenlo will close in early 2004 and the brewery in Enschede in 2005. The new brewery will be completed in 2005. The ceremonial opening of the new brewery is planned for April 2004.

Grolsch​ hopes that the new brewery will become a benchmark for future breweries worldwide. It is certainly an opportunity for the company to put in place the most recent innovations in the industry such as automation, energy savings and production facilities that offer minimal environmental impact.

The decision to build a new plant came after a blast at a firework depot in Enschede destroyed much of the original brewery. The fire, which killed over 20 people and injured over 550, led to the evacuation of several thousand people.

SIG Simonazzi​ designs, manufactures, and sells machines, complete lines, and turnkey systems for preparing, filling, and packaging beverages in plastic/glass bottles and cans. The company, which is based in Parma, operates facilities in Italy, Brazil, Mexico, and China. For more information on the Grolsch project, contact Laura Briozzo​ at SIG Simonazzi.

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