One of the more elaborate setups and impressive shows on the BrewExpo floor last week was that of the vacuum-powered keg-moving arms of Schmalz, a global supplier of automation, handling and clamping systems.
Schmalz’ roots rest in Southwest Germany, where the company was founded in 1910. The Schmalz the world knows today though really picked up steam in 1984, when Kurt Schmalz took over and moved to the specialization of vacuum technology. The company has offered this highly powerful vacuum and gripping systems in a variety of industries and are used to handle anything from small electric chips and CDs to large pieces of furniture, sheets of metal or, yes, kegs.
Schmalz is just now starting to apply its concepts to the world of craft brewing, specifically with the Schmalz Vacuum Handling Solution — a vacuum generator with three phase power and a 70-in. lift stroke. It is capable of handling empty and full kegs of any size, metal or plastic.
The package includes a multi-function control unit, overhead crane system, motor overload and power disconnect switch, an easy release handle and compressed air and safety system. The system includes half-barrel to 0ne-sixth barrel top grippers, as well side grip options that allow for 180- or 360-degree rotation. This main Vacuum Handling Solution is listed at $15,999.
But Schmalz offers other lifting products and vacuum heads to meet a variety of craft brewing needs, from handling anything from bags of ingredients to bottles and cases. The different attachments can be changed out quickly and easily, and even the entire giant operation is on a portable base to allow for maximum movement and functionality throughout the brewery.
One last nice feature, in case of a power outage, there is a safety feature that assures the product will not drop from the grip, but is instead slowly released. Check out the system in action: