Canadian Packaging

Method to their madness

Upstart U.S. micorbrewer keeps the taps running at full speed ahead with custom-designed, dry-running canning line at its grand new facility


October 26, 2018
George Guidoni

Like most North American craft brewers, Cincinnati, Ohio-based MadTree Brewing started out pretty small back in 2013, with its original canning line’s running speed of 24 cans per minute hardly a contender for breaking any speed records in the industry.

However, the speed with which the privately-owned brewer became one of the most popular and celebrated beer producers in the so-called Tri-State region in America’s Midwest is a compelling testament to the company’s remarkable natural knack for producing high-quality craft beer.

With brisk growth in consumer demand vastly outpacing the original canning line’s capacity to keep up, MadTree quickly found itself in need of a new home to package its popular canned beer brands such as PSA Proper Session Ale, Lift, Psychopathy and Happy Amber.

With the help of local commercial real estate developer Al. Neyer, LLC, MadTree found what it was looking for just a couple f miles from its original location at a historic site once operated by former paper packaging prodcuts manufacturer RockTenn.

As Al. Neyer proceeded to reconstruct the old paper mill site to suit the needs of the expanding brewery—including construction of a 10,000-square-foot outdoor beer garden, two private event spaces, a 64-tap taproom, an on-site Catch-A-Fire Pizza café—MadTree knew it would also need to install a modern, high-performance canning line worthy of the renovated grand 50,000-square-foot facility.

To get this done in the most efficient and expedient manner, MadTree contacted conveying systems specialists Regal Beloit, having heard a lot of positive things about the company’s many system installations in the craft beer business from several other craft beermakers.

A year before startup of the expansion, Regal assisted in equipment selection, conveyor/component design, layout simplification, OEM “Final Acceptance Testing,” and on-site installation support, which continued through startup and run-in.

Headed by conveyor efficiency expert Jim Kullman, the Regal team assembled a thoughtfully-selected bundle of key parts and components manufactured by Regal, including System Plast NGE modular belts and Nolu-S wear strips, Sealmaster bearings, Hub City Hera gearboxes, and LEESON motors.

“At Regal, we like to get personally involved,” Kullman recalls. “I began working with MadTree a year before startup and remained with them throughout the project.

“I essentially worked as a consultant and integrator on behalf of MadTree to ensure they met their overall goals regarding lowest total cost-of-ownership and line effectiveness.

“Because Regal manufacturers all of the products we needed in our parts bundle, we mad it easy for MadTree to get all they needed from one source,” Kullman relates.

“All the products we selected played a key role in products optimizing production efficiency—ultimately resulting in a 100-percent dry-running conveyor line that provides many efficiency and sustainability benefits.”

As Kullman recounts, one of the project’s highlights involved developing a streamlined transition from packaging line conveyors to a key piece of equipment by designing, building and integrating a System Plast custom side transfer module into the equipment.

“This created a really smooth product transfer—eliminating jamming and downed cans,” he recalls.

“Another key component during the install was a punch list to identify potential installation issues and recommended corrective actions before startup,” Kullman adds, “saving significant time during run-in.”

Says Kullman: “The Regal team made a complex undertaking simple for MadTree Brewery, who now have an efficient, smooth-running packaging line— running 250 cans per minute—that will also be relatively maintenance-free for the long term.

“By providing much higher yields and faster throughput, the new line allows them to conduct business in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way.”

Adds MadTree Brewery founder Kenny McNutt: “We decided to go with Jim Kullman and the Regal team as our packaging line advisors based on their hands-on approach and positive feedback from other brewers who worked with them, and we couldn’t be happier with this decision—it really paid off for us in the end.

“It’s common for new packaging lines to have a run-in period of several months, before even producing one saleable can, which can be a costly and unpredictable burden,” McNutt says.

“But with the support of the team at Regal, we significantly compressed the initial conveyor run-in time, and we were selling cases of canned beer much sooner than we expected.

“Developing an optimal layout was not an easy task,” McNutt points out. “It took several iterations.

“But Jim’s experience with brewery conveying helped me to design a layout to take the best advantage of our equipment features for optimal product flow.”

Says McNutt: “Jim Kullman and the Regal team focused on what was important to us, while at the same time sharing their conveyor knowledge and experience.

“With them by our side throughout the process, we got the best packaging line for our specific needs,” Kullman concludes.

“For anyone contemplating expanding or upgrading their brewery’s packaging line, I would strongly recommend that they contact Regal.”

Please see a video of the Regal Beloit conveyor installation at the MadTree Brewing plant on Canadian Packaging TV at www.canadianpackaging.com






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Machinery