This will see continuous mash treatment and separation in double decanters, a faster fermentation and maturation process and quality assurance with just-in-time production and digitalization.
Even though the process is unusual for European consumers, it is a standard procedure in other parts of the world: beer in Asia, Africa and South America is brewed from rice, corn and sorghum or starchy root vegetables such as manioc or cassava.
As part of its ‘Brewery 4.0’, GEA says t wants to help customers compete in the coming years and generate flexibility throughout the supply chain.
It is now working on the concept for a ‘continuous brewhouse’ where brand changes are possible.
Dr. Rudolf Michel, head of development, Beverage and Beer production, GEA, told BeverageDaily, the Brewery 4.0 concept expects fermentation and maturation to speed up even more in the future.
“Processing times of four days or less can already be achieved using continuous fermentation,” he said.
“In breweries with a variety of brands, classic tank fermentation and maturation should also be possible with significantly shorter occupation times without any loss in quality thanks to suitable process techniques and yeast strains.
“In this case, however, the most important beer quality sensors – the brewer's nose and palate – would no longer be sufficient. We would have to plan for much more measuring technology and lab evaluations."
In a current development project, GEA is drafting a method for processing big data as part of Brewery 4.0 throughout the supply chain – including everything from raw materials for brewing wort to the final product and just-in-time delivery.
“Digitalization of process steps means brewers always have large quantities of data available, in the future across multiple batches. We need to sensibly condense them and convert them into automated commands,” added Michel.
“Medium to long-term trend analyses can be used to increase system efficiency and availability for our customers.
“We want to define the benefits of an IT supported brewing environment early on to link the process control level of production technology to the operation level including storage, delivery and ordering.
"The art is to sensibly qualify big data and transform it into specific production actions. Right now, we are searching for a cooperation partner for our development team."