Milwaukee MillerCoors brewery testing new bottling line

New “pilot” line could be model for rest of brewery, others in country

The Milwaukee MillerCoors brewery is testing a new beer bottling line, and if perfected, it could dramatically change and improve the company’s national operations.

Most of MillerCoors’ existing operations have suppliers send bottles in cases to its breweries throughout the country. Local breweries then unpack the bottles, fill, pasteurize and label them, and then re-pack the cases, said Andrew Moschea, vice president of the Milwaukee brewery.

However, the Milwaukee brewery is now running one line in which it brings the glass in without cases. The brewery fills, pasteurizes and labels the bottles as it did before, and then packs them into cases.

The line was completed last year – its testing is ongoing. The brewery’s other bottling lines are still using the old system, Moschea said.

The improvement in the new line is the elimination of what was thought to be an unnecessary step.

“When you look at all of the energy savings (by eliminating that step), they’re significant with all of the waste that is involved,” he said. “The new process is much more efficient. All of the materials come into the brewery and we do all of the assembly.”

The brewery’s efficiency improved so much that it justified hiring two additional workers per shift to work the bottling line, Moschea said. One job in the bottle unpacking area was eliminated, giving the brewery a net gain of one job.

If the new bottling packing system proves a success, the Milwaukee brewery will probably expand it, and other MillerCoors breweries may use it as a model for their facilities, Moschea said.

“We’re doing a little bit of R&D in place,” he said.

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