Maui Brewing gets a handle on growth pains

on 11/03/11 at 3:07 pm

Beer

FILLING THE BREW. Empty beer cans are filled and sealed at Maui Brewing prior to heading to the carrier application operation

The Hawaiian maker of craft beers expects to double production volume in 2011, and a new can carrier applicator is helping to dramatically increase line speed and cut costs.

Maui Brewing Co. is increasing production line speed a whopping 12-fold and reducing labor-per-unit costs more than 75% while also expanding its distribution reach as consumers with discerning palates continue to discover its selection of craft beers.

The Lahaina, Maui, HI-based brewery is making these quantum leaps with a faster automated filling line and switching to a mostly automated line where distinctive handled ring carriers with dust-cover tops are inserted on its beverage cans. The savings are coming in reduced need for operators, which allows for more unattended run time, and also in streamlined changeover processes that minimize downtime.

With these upgrades, Maui Brewing Founder Garrett Marrero projects that production volume for his craft beers, which includes varieties like Bikini Blonde Lager, CoCoNut PorTeR, and Mana Wheat, will double from 11,000 barrels (2.5 million cans) in 2010 to more than 22,000 barrels (5 million to 6 million cans) in 2011. This will occur as the brewery’s distribution expands from Hawaii, Japan, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Colorado to include Texas and Arizona in 2011.

Upgrading to 7-stack

The brewer recently upgraded its filling lines to significantly increase volume. But overall production can only go as fast as ring carriers can be applied to the cans, and this is the latest area at Maui Brewing where the operation is making a quantum leap. The company is upgrading from PakTech’s single-stack CCA600 carrier applicator to a 7-stack version. In a little more than a year, the operation has gone from manual to one that is able to keep pace with the markedly faster filling-line speeds.

“We’re the guinea pig for PakTech’s 7-stack,” Marrero says. “We were the first craft beer maker to use their rings, and now we’re the first to use the 7-stack.”

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