Top craft breweries are learning how to combine their goals of environmentalism, efficiency and manufacturing. It might be time we paid attention. Last week, Regal Beloit Corp., a manufacturer of electric motors, electrical motion controls, power generation and power transmission components, installed a dry running conveyor system made with the company’s System Plast NG Evo technology at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. that will save the brewery 750,000 gallons of water annually on its keg line.
Sierra Nevada Brewery, located in Chico, Calif., retrofitted its keg line 16 months ago and has already saved approximately 1 million gallons of water through the system, which runs without lubrication or water.
“We already picked a lot of the low-hanging fruit when it comes to sustainability, but we were able to achieve both productivity requirements and support California’s need to reduce water usage on the keg line with the System Plast dry running conveyor technology,” said Pat Young, project manager at Sierra Nevada. “It was something no one had done before.”
“The line runs without the use of water, soap or dry lubricants, which has also helped to reduce component maintenance,” said Stephen Russell, plant manager at Sierra Nevada. “We quickly completed the retrofit and started saving with the help of the System Plast team.”
Sierra Nevada has been recognized on local, state and national levels for its commitment to reducing its environmental impact, and the Chico brewery was certified by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council as a zero-waste facility in 2013.
“Our technology allows our customers to meet sustainability and water conservation goals while also helping to reduce energy and water reclamation and treatment costs,” said Tom Eure, material handling director, Regal Beloit Corporation. “Considering Sierra Nevada’s commitment to sustainability in every aspect of their operations, this was the ideal solution to help them achieve their production and water savings goals.”
The System Plast NG Evo conveyor chain is an advanced, low-friction, FDA-approved material designed for running conveyors dry in food and beverage applications. Its unique thermoplastic design can help eliminate or greatly reduce: wasteful water-and-soap lubrication; slip hazards; and premature failure of bearings, gearboxes and other conveyor components typically seen in washdown conveyors. The conveyor chain accomplishes this all while helping users meet their productivity goals.
“Water reduction is quickly becoming ubiquitous in the beverage and brewing industry, and we have been working over the past 30 years to steadily reduce our water consumption,” said Stephen Russell, plant manager, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. “In light of California’s water concerns, it became even more important that we evaluate any and all means of reducing water consumption.”
Regal’s team worked with Sierra Nevada from design through installation and remained on-site during startup to ensure the keg line ran smoothly. A dry running keg line also helped reduce maintenance, because water and soap corrode components such as bearings and gearboxes.
“The team was also able to reduce the clean-in-place frequency, saving water as well as time,” said Young. “Considering all the different areas where we’ve reduced water usage, running a dry keg line translated into approximately 750,000 gallons of water saved annually. The System Plast solution helped turn my dream of a lube-less conveyor system to reduce water usage a reality.”
Despite the drought state of emergency being lifted in April, California Governor Jerry Brown is still encouraging residents and businesses to continue their efforts to conserve water. According to his office, the drought that spanned the years 2012 through 2016 included the driest four-year statewide precipitation on record.