Refreshingly different: The GEA presentation at BrauBeviale from November 12–14, 2019 in Nuremberg (GEA booth in Hall 7/7-600) aims to surprise with a fresh take. This time, the specialist technology group is not only focusing on new products for the beverage industry but also on inviting customers to discuss their own specific expectations and challenges with GEA experts. After all, GEA believes 360-degree solutions should spring primarily from partnerships.

Flexibility, performance, uptime and sustainability are critical to ensuring that customers can produce food safely and efficiently. To meet these goals, GEA develops, manufactures and supports plants and processes that can be digitally controlled, monitored and intelligently managed, that use resources sparingly, and are as reliable as they are durable. All of this is very much part of the “Refreshingly different” GEA approach, which fuses technology and creativity in order to respond to customer wishes with forward-looking, unconventional engineering solutions.

Solutions for craft brewers

Although development across the global craft beer market is uneven, it has matured as a whole in recent years. As Oliver Jakob, Product Manager for Craft and Specialty Breweries at GEA, explains, retailers and restaurants favor reliable brands that deliver consistently high quality. Which is why the craft brewers who reject experimental hara-kiri in favor of carefully considered business plans and strategies that make them “relevant to their target group” will go the distance. Regional marketing and even local identity can further this goal, he adds, noting that exporting is not always an appropriate target for creative brewers. “The aim should be to find a niche alongside the big, established names on the market. Drinkable beers need no further explanation,” Jakob says. “They are the kind that win over loyal fans who keep coming back for more.” For expert brewers, putting a special twist on a pilsner or lager is nothing short of an art form – one that GEA makes practicable with technologically and commercially adapted brewing solutions. The company’s special systems and components allow for modular expansion and flexibility, allow for improvisation and are synonymous with quality, reliability and the efficient use of resources.

Yeast management on a scale for craft breweries

Although the GEA Craft Yeast Propagator is designed for smaller budgets and capacities, it offers the same gentle homogenization, optimum aeration and adaptable temperature control as its bigger brother. Image: GEA
Although the GEA Craft Yeast Propagator is designed for smaller budgets and capacities, it offers the same gentle homogenization, optimum aeration and adaptable temperature control as its bigger brother. Image: GEA

The GEA Craft Yeast Propagator, which GEA announced at BrauBeviale 2018, will take the stage this year. With capacities ranging from five to 25 hectoliters, the propagator has dimensions compatible with GEA’s 25- to 125-hectoliter brew-size CRAFT-STAR® and COMPACT-STAR® brewhouses. 

Yeast is the most important component in beer production, impacting taste, quality and filterability. “All the more reason for brewers to select the right strain, maintain and propagate healthy cells as well as utilize the surplus yeast,” GEA Product Manager Torben Bauch says. In recent years, the yeast expert notes, the growing number of varieties available on the market have led to increasingly extensive technical automation. “But this is precisely where craft brewers’ views diverge from those of larger breweries. That’s why we have downscaled our YEAST-STAR® – a high-capacity fully automated solution – to create a simplified version,” Bauch says. “Designed for smaller budgets and capacities, it offers all the same functionality as its bigger brother, providing gentle homogenization, optimum aeration and adaptable temperature control.” 

London-based Fourpure Brewing Co. will be the first customer to benefit from the new propagator. The craft brewery was impressed with how the unit as a whole had been slimmed down and that certain high-tech functions have been tailored for manual operation and independent control.

Now craft beers can be alcohol-free, too

GEA AromaPlus: GEA firmly believes that reverse osmosis is the best method for producing great, honest-to-goodness beer with authentic flavors. Image: GEA/Mike Henning
GEA AromaPlus: GEA firmly believes that reverse osmosis is the best method for producing great, honest-to-goodness beer with authentic flavors. Image: GEA/Mike Henning

As the non-alcoholic beer trend is also spilling over into the craft beer market, it is also a focal topic at the GEA stand. These creative artisanal brews don’t need alcohol to expand their fan base. A case in point is the Ghost Ship Citrus Pale Ale 0.5% produced by Adnams in Southwold, UK, which sailed to gold-medal success at the 2019 World Beer Awards. Adnams began producing a low-alcohol version of its popular Ghost Ship Citrus Pale Ale 4.5% about a year ago using the GEA AromaPlus dealcoholization unit. The system relies on reverse osmosis, which filters out the alcohol at the end of the brewing process, leaving 100 percent of the flavor but just 0.5 percent alcohol.

GEA’s membrane filtration specialist Ralf Scheibner explains, “For all their efficiency in removing ethanol from beer, thermal processes can compromise taste – which is something we simply could not accept. At GEA, we firmly believe that reverse osmosis is the best method for producing great, honest-to-goodness beer with authentic flavors.” In this regard, he agrees with brew masters who view adding sugar, wort or any other ingredient to improve taste after technical dealcoholization as a no-go.

Clarifying instead of filtering: Separation solutions for craft brewers

Available in four sizes, the preassembled GEA Plug & Win compact separator integrates into your existing piping matrix and is ready for immediate use. Image: GEA
Available in four sizes, the preassembled GEA Plug & Win compact separator integrates into your existing piping matrix and is ready for immediate use. Image: GEA

“The separation solutions we are showcasing at BrauBeviale are primarily targeting craft brewers who want to raise their production to a professional level,” says Wolf Herberg, Head of Separation Sales at GEA. Designed to meet the craft brewers’ practical needs, the GEA Plug & Win 180 separates undesirable solids, such as yeast and trub, from beer. The high-performance, compact centrifuge can immediately be put into action and is very easy to operate. “Compared to other clarification processes, our solution reduces losses drastically, cuts storage time by a third and lessens overall brew times.” 

Another product of this philosophy is the new GEA separator skid for brewpubs, developed especially for tavern and pub micro-breweries that produce on site. At BrauBeviale, GEA will premiere its most compact and cost-effective variant, which boasts the same efficiency advantages as larger GEA separators in a stripped-back unit. “Our brewpub version shows what GEA means by practical innovations,” Herberg says. “Basic automation, extended service intervals and a compact skid design – these are all game-changing features for brewers who have to pay close attention to their operating costs.” Thanks to the centrifuge, a beer’s clarity or turbidity can be precisely calibrated and reproduced. Mounted on an immediately installable skid, the brewpub separator needs only be plugged in and it can get straight to work. 

Efficient filling with rapid changeover times

The ultimate in flexibility for craft brewers: The GEA Visitron Filler ALL-IN-ONE can fill and seal cans as well as glass or PET bottles. Image: GEA
The ultimate in flexibility for craft brewers: The GEA Visitron Filler ALL-IN-ONE can fill and seal cans as well as glass or PET bottles. Image: GEA

Customers in the craft beer segment are particularly interested in space-saving, flexible and sustainable solutions that pay dividends at medium speeds and capacities. So GEA’s booth showcases the highly flexible, monoblock GEA Visitron Filler ALL-IN-ONE, which can switch between filling bottles, cans and PET containers. It not only handles the most varied formats, beverages and lid types with ease, but also slashes the filling block’s format and product changeover times from a number of hours to 20 to 30 minutes. With these features, the filler responds to issues that are currently top of mind for beverage manufacturers, as Jakob Šalamun of GEA VIPOLL confirms: “Our product development is driven by customers’ desire for efficiency, not only in terms of CAPEX and OPEX, but also in procurement, production and distribution channels. It’s all about using resources sparingly in view of the growing focus on sustainability.”

Solutions for medium-sized and large breweries

Medium- to large-capacity breweries’ needs revolve around achieving high-quality results while keeping production safe and absolutely reliable, plus the flexibility to respond to fluctuations in demand and improve productivity, all while cutting operating costs and achieving an acceptable ecological footprint. Technology leader GEA develops everything from components to entire process lines and supports collaborative projects throughout the entire life cycle. GEA spotlights two forward-looking solutions dedicated to this customer segment:

Environmentally friendly ceramic filtration attractive for brewers

GEA clearamic plant for beer filtration. Image: GEA
GEA clearamic plant for beer filtration. Image: GEA

In cooperation with a mid-sized brewery in Europe, GEA has been installing its GEA clearamic Beer Filtration system as an alternative to conventional kieselguhr and cross-flow filtration with polymer membranes. Using inert and long-lasting ceramic membranes, the alternative solution employs the cross-flow process. Although ceramic filtration with GEA Membraflow elements is already standard in yeast beer recovery and fruit juice filtration, GEA is for the first time transferring the technology to beer filtration on industrial scale. This plant integrates a filtration block with membrane modules, a retentate buffer tank, media connection and a dedicated CIP rail, which sanitizes the clearamic system independently of other cleaning programs. Depending on the type of beer and other requirements, a filtration loop of this kind can produce 100 to 150 hectoliters of filtered beer per hour.

The ceramic membranes do not transfer any substances to the filtrate. Thanks to their extreme resilience, such membranes can be sanitized to the highest hygienic standards using caustic solutions at high temperatures and without the need for expensive enzymatic cleaners. GEA estimates the stable membranes’ service life at ten years or more. “According to our OPEX calculations, the low operating costs quickly pay for the system,” Product Manager Sonja von Lieres says. “The break-even point can be as little as some five years compared to kieselguhr filtration, and as fast as three years or so compared to polymer membranes.” Here, product safety and sustainability clearly pay dividends.

Dynamic dry hopping increases raw material yields by up to 50 percent

Dry hopping is a cold process in which extra hops provide oils that round out a beer’s flavor profile with additional hop notes. In traditional static dry hopping, hop cones or pellets are placed in the storage tank. But this fails to produce maximum extraction efficiency and results in high beer losses. Depending on the specific hop dosage used, the industry reports losses as ranging from 10 to 20 percent. “As proven in trials and our industrial applications, the HOPSTAR® Dry’s dynamic process significantly improves extraction efficiency by as much as 30 to 50 percent, compared to the static process,” says GEA’s hops expert Isabel Osterroth, summing up the plant’s advantages.

Hops

In contrast to static dry hopping, this process employs a low-shear agitator in conjunction with a pump to keep the pellet hops suspended and in motion. The solids are separated via sedimentation and remain in the extraction vessel. An additional fine filter catches smaller particles. Since extraction and sedimentation can be repeated in varying cycles, brewers have excellent control over contact time and the extracted hop oil fractions. Thanks to increased extraction efficiency, brewers save on hopping costs and beer losses are reduced to less than 3 percent. At this year’s BrauBeviale 2019, GEA will exhibit the tenth HOPSTAR Dry® plant. After projects in Europe, North and South America, GEA commissioned the first cold hopping plant at a German brewery this summer.

Integrated process solutions for beverage manufacturers

Sustainable energy solutions: Upgrade beverage plants for optimal energy efficiency with process and utilities know-how

Desiring to uphold their own standards, and faced with the need to manage commercial constraints and respond to growing pressure from legislators, consumers and investors, food producers are prioritizing resource and energy efficiency, which simultaneously spurs innovation. For businesses in an energy-intensive industry, green manufacturing means assuming responsibility for the environment and the community, and energy efficiency plays a key role in achieving sustainability in process industries. 

This is confirmed by the GEA SEnS (Sustainable Energy Solutions) team, which advises customers on such matters. By combining its process savvy with its knowledge of heating and cooling requirements as early as the planning phase, GEA helps improve energy footprints easily by 30 percent and reduce CO2 emissions up to 90 percent. “In many processes, heating and cooling alone account for 60 percent of the total of energy consumption,” says Klaus Bonfig, Head of Utilities for GEA’s brewery business. “While new cooling systems are a shortcut to savings of between 2 and 4 percent, taking a 360-degree approach to facilities on both cooling and heating can reduce customers’ OPEX by up to 30 percent. This gives us a lot of territory to work with.” 

Recently, a GEA beverage customer reported that it saves 7,000 megawatt hours of electricity and 200 tonnes of CO2 per year – equivalent to an OPEX reduction by EUR 150,000 per year. GEA convinced by the single-source supply of an ammonia refrigeration plant combined with an ammonia heat pump for the pasteurizer and a new CIP system. “Naturally, lower energy consumption translates into a proportional decrease in the customer’s carbon footprint,” Bonfig says. “By also switching over to green power, CO2 emissions can potentially be curtailed by as much as 90 percent.” GEA employs this approach at both greenfield and brownfield sites. The company will be showcasing its ideas at BrauBeviale for the first time.

By combining GEA's knowledge of processes with its cooling and heating requirements in the planning phase, it is possible to significantly improve the energy balance and reduce CO2 emissions. Graphic: GEA
By combining GEA's knowledge of processes with its cooling and heating requirements in the planning phase, it is possible to significantly improve the energy balance and reduce CO2 emissions. Graphic: GEA

Complete process integration for plant-based beverages

Bringing quality plant-based beverages to today’s discerning consumers

Although BrauBeviale focuses on brewing, GEA will also be addressing other beverage industry topics at the trade show. These include GEA’s 360-degree solutions for the production of plant-based beverages. Bean- and cereal-based convenience products such as drinks have gained popularity all over the globe, riding high on health- and environment-conscious dietary trends. “GEA makes the vegetarian segment into one of its focal areas for development. Not only is demand high around the world but GEA’s extensive project experience and technology portfolio allow us to support customers every step of the way, through to service in ongoing operations,” says Colm O’Gorman, GEA Business Manager Plant-Based Beverages. 

GEA’s separation experts have been active in this market for decades, during which time they have refined their decanter into a lean, mean machine. A GEA model will be on hand at the trade show to demonstrate the two-step decanting process, which results in 10 percent higher yields. That means more protein from soy, and more starch from rice, almonds and oats. In line with the highest hygienic standards, GEA decanters feature a very high flexibility of the operating parameters such as the differential speed, wear-resistant parts, extended lifespans and convenient service intervals. The patented hydrohermetic system seals off the process chamber from the environment and prevents oxidation. Running the centrifuge on different products is easy, no change in set up is required.

GEA’s processing technologies and capabilities to design integration process lines from raw material handling, separation via decanter, enzyme inactivation, aroma control, blending and homogenization to aseptic filling and packaging means that customers can rely on GEA to provide the full solution from raw material to final packaged product. Being able to combine technologies with engineering expertise, project management and commissioning know-how as well as ongoing support long after the process has been put into operation is a new and unparalleled addition to the market. O’Gorman adds: “We are spotlighting our strength as a process integrator that also offers all the core elements necessary for extraction technology.”

Refreshingly digital: From big data to smart data with GEA service solutions

From greenfield projects through corrective and predictive maintenance to machine and plant performance optimization, GEA’s digital services give customers new ways to stay a step ahead of the competition. These solutions include real-time support with GEA Remote Eye Wear as well as condition monitoring solutions such as PerformancePlus, which uses selective data analysis to propose measures and allow them to be initiated quickly. This enables not only increased production reliability and the economical use of energy and resources but also maximum GEA system uptime. 

The latest addition to the lineup of GEA digital services is a cloud-based platform. Created as part of a collaboration with start-up MachIQ, the portal offers customers cutting-edge services such as remote maintenance, data analysis and comprehensive e-commerce solutions. The portfolio will be rounded out with additional offerings including condition monitoring, PLC connections and video support by the end of 2020. But the GEA solution stands out from other comparable industry portals: The new digital cooperation channel is supplier-independent by design, so customers are free to integrate all their supplier interactions into the platform.

Additional process components

GEA will be debuting the GEA Vaculiq spiral filter which efficiently juices all kinds of fruit under a vacuum while requiring only minimal space. Image: GEA
GEA will be debuting the GEA Vaculiq spiral filter which efficiently juices all kinds of fruit under a vacuum while requiring only minimal space. Image: GEA

Trade show visitors interested in product safety and hygiene components for their production lines will find hygienic, aseptic pump and valve series such as the new orbital cleaner for brewery tanks at the GEA booth. In addition, GEA will be debuting the GEA vaculiq spiral filter. This technology efficiently juices all kinds of fruit under a vacuum while requiring only minimal space. In this way, it protects valuable plant nutrients and vitamins, so the fresh flavor and healthy ingredients are preserved from atmospheric oxygen. Vaculiq plants are available to juice producers as well as manufacturers of special products such as baby food, smoothies, purees and even mustard in capacities ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 kilograms per hour.

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