GA Trade Mar-Apr interactive - page 16

S
ince its founding in 1991, The St.
Louis Brewery has grown to be
the largest locally owned independent
brewing company in Missouri. Brewer
of the Schlafly brand of craft beer,
their product has grown greatly in
popularity over the last two decades.
In 2002, they opened their own
production facility, Schlafly
Bottleworks. Their plan was that
within a decade, they would reach an
annual production of 25,000 barrels.
“That would have been 10 percent
growth, compounded annually,”
recalled Head of Brewing Operations
James “Otto” Ottolini, “In 2008, we
hit 24,000 barrels. We expanded
beyond what we intended; as a
company and at this facility.”
Although high sales and growth
is indeed a good thing, such unex-
pected growth creates a situation
in which short-term solutions to
meet current production needs
can cut into long-term profits.
The production at the time required
Ottolini himself to work overnight
at times. Without a means of
expanding or moving to a larger
brewery, he decided to look into
automation to increase production
at Schlafly Bottleworks.
“We were in conversation with three
different German companies and then
thought about our local options. Ed
Montgomery with Siemens is based
out of St. Louis. We started the
conversation there and it took off.”
This led to the decision in 2009 to
integrate a Siemens SIMATIC PCS7
system, with the BRAUMAT Compact
craft brewing libraries, to automate
many of the processes in the facility.
The BRAUMAT Compact system is
a scaled-down version of SIMATIC
PCS7, which is used in larger
breweries. It is able to track and
perform many of the functions that
would otherwise have to be done by
hand. It also provides the brewmaster
with more information, which
inevitably leads to more consistency
across batches.
The question remains: Is the increase
in efficiency enough to offset the cost
of automating the brew house? This
return on investment is particularly
important for independent brewers,
who do not always have the money
up-front for a major project. Ed
Montgomery of Siemens weighed in:
“If you walk past our booth at a
tradeshow and see our stuff, you might
think you can’t afford it. In reality, it’s
very affordable for the craft brewer; it
should be, it’s been tailored to fit you.”
Indeed, 23 out of the 50 largest craft
breweries in the United States have
been using a Siemens automation
system. Other breweries that have
taken advantage of a BRAUMAT
Compact system include Yazoo
German American Trade Mar/Apr 2014
16
S P O T L I G H T S
James Ottolini enjoying a beer in the Crown Room at Schlafly Bottleworks.
Quenching Thirst with German Engineering
Anything but Dirty – 21st Century Manufacturing Jobs
Schlafly Bottleworks:
By Brian Jordan, GACC
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