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Capacity increase creates more flexibility at Alken-Maes

Breweries Alken-Maes - Belgium
Market Food & Beverage
Scope Capacity increase
Country Belgium

To increase the flexibility and the capacity available for the production of the specialty beers at the Alken site, brewery Alken-Maes called on Agidens Process Automation Food & Beverage to expand the fermentation and lagering capacity. In addition, they wanted to adapt the cooling method for the high-fermentation beers.

Breweries Alken-Maes, part of the Heineken group, is one of the largest breweries in Belgium with an annual production capacity of almost 2,000,000 hl of beer. The brewery produces about thirty types of beer, including Maes, Cristal, Grimbergen, Affligem and Mort Subite. After previously collaborating on a new yeast storage facility and the integration of three bright beer tanks, Alken-Maes Breweries once again approached Agidens to bring the project to a successful conclusion.

Agidens deliverables

  • Process engineering
  • Supply mechanical parts, including mechanical design
  • Mechanical assembly (in collaboration with partner NLT-Pivaco)
  • Electrical engineering
  • Supply electrical control boxes
  • Electrical assembly works
  • Software engineering (PLC and SCADA)
  • Testing and commissioning
  • Project and site management

Agidens once again proved their strength as a flexible integrator in the expansion of our existing fermentation cellar. The turnkey approach resulted in a smooth collaboration and correct delivery.

Wouter Janssens, Engineering Manager at Alken-Maes Breweries.

Challenges and solutions

Integration of three new tanks in the existing fermentation cellar

  • Since the pipe loops were expanded, but at the same time are shared with all other tanks, a minimum switching time was crucial.
  • By prefabricating a maximum amount of work and planning the switchover as much as possible after production on Friday, production could run at full speed on Monday after each switchover.

Integration into existing pipework, including preparation for three future tanks

  • In view of a planned expansion with another three similar tanks, together we saw the opportunity during the project to adjust the planned concept.
  • We brought the pipe loop to the other side of the new tanks and provided the necessary valves and connections. As a result, there is no more need to cut the pipe loop and fewer changeovers are required, which benefits the cost of the extension.

Glycol supply adjustment

For cooling, a new pipe had to be provided from the cooling system. Because the cooling installation was located on the other side of the factory, we worked out a piping project above the warehouse, away from the wet areas.

Integration into existing CIP installation

In order to clean the new tanks, the parameters of the existing CIP installation were optimized. Through thecommon filling and emptying lines of all tanks, we also adjusted those parameters.

Minimization of temperature shock and energy consumption

Each tank was equipped with individual glycol temperature control on the cooling jackets. This way, counter-cooling is done with the highest possible glycol temperature, but it is still cold enough to take energy away from the green beer, and thus also to counteract an increase in temperature.

Integration into existing software programs

The operation of the new tanks is analogous to the operation of the existing installations. The commissioning by the Alken-Maes operators went very smoothly.

Results and next steps

Thanks to our multidisciplinary project teams, on-site presence and smooth cooperation with both Alken-Maes Breweries and our piping and mechanical partner NLT-Pivaco, we were able to achieve a smooth start-up within the set deadlines. In addition, there was only minimal, unavoidable, production interruption during the integration.

Agidens is ready to expand the fermentation capacity at the Alken site in the near future with 3 new CCTs, for which we have already made the necessary preparations. In the meantime, as a turnkey integrator and service partner, we continue to work there continuously with studies and maintenance & service, and that in combination with small and large optimization projects.

Wouter Janssens, Engineering Manager at Alken-Maes Breweries, looks back with satisfaction at the collaboration: “Agidens once again proved their strength as a flexible integrator in the expansion of our existing fermentation cellar. The turnkey approach, consisting of process and mechanical engineering, E&I engineering, automation and project management, resulted in smooth cooperation and correct delivery within the agreed terms.”