Beer Production Thanks to the Power of Data
Data gushes along in front of the beer because without IT, Krombacher Brewery’s processes would not flow smoothly. The right cabling is essential and must also withstand broken glass.
The world is thirsty. Anyone who visits the Krombacher Brewery will soon come to this conclusion. Crates are stacked up as high as houses. This is no surprise, seeing as business at Germany’s largest private brewery is doing so well. Millions of bottles leave the brewery every day. In 2014, the company filled up an unimaginable 6.58 million hectolitres (1.73 million gallons). With such an amount, Munich could celebrate its famous “Octoberfest” beer festival for four years non-stop! Krombacher no longer has much in common with a small craft brewery business. The latest information technology – and with it, miles and miles of cables – have now found their way into the company. Timo Kleinsorge from Krombacher Brewery’s Business Engineering Department says, “Digitalisation doesn’t stop at the door of our industry. On the contrary, virtually all the processes are computer-assisted.” This applies to every area – Production, Logistics and Administration. “Whether we’re writing business emails or sending orders to bottling plants, huge amounts of data is constantly buzzing through the cables in our company. The hardware must be appropriately configured so that we can guarantee this at all times,” continues Kleinsorge. In the near future, telephone services will also become fully digitised via Voice over IP. “Due to the high volume of data, we had to adapt our existing cables. In order to guarantee reasonable speeds in the future, we decided to look for a new solution.”
CRUSH- AND SHARD-RESISTANT
The search focused on ensuring the safe transmission of data across large distances as the main Krombacher plant covers an impressive 200,000 square metres (2.2 million square feet). Three networks run in parallel there – the EDV network for common office applications, the production control network, and the safety network for building technology requirements. Data from the different areas such as the brewery or bottling plant is stored on a total of 20 main data nodes. “Our network is so vast that cables for different applications have to share the same cable trays”, says Kleinsorge. “If one connection is cut somewhere this could have wide-reaching implications. With our huge production volumes, we can’t afford any time-consuming problems.”
However, the current cable installation network really does not make things very easy. Many cable trays run underfoot or near the bottles along the conveyor belt. So the possibility of someone standing on the cable trays cannot be entirely ruled out, neither can the likelihood of the cables being damaged by broken glass. “That’s why we need extremely robust cables,” Kleinsorge points out. Ordinary fibre optic cables are not suitable for this environment.
CUSTOM CABLES PROTECTED WITH STEEL
Krombacher went in search of a cable manufacturer who could meet these high demands. “We defined extremely detailed specifications, all of which needed to be satisfied. We also needed a reliable supplier,” says Kleinsorge. “Then we came across HELUKABEL.” Although the Hemmingen-based company did not yet stock any cables which matched our expectations 100 percent, they did stock several products featuring rodent protection. If a cable can resist mice teeth then it should surely also be able to resist broken glass.” Beginning in 2013, HELUKABEL started working on the development of a special fibre optic cable for the Krombacher brewery that featured a protective steel armor. The result was the HELUCOM A-DQ(ZN)(SR)2Y single-mode cable for the EDV network and the HELUCOM A-DQ(ZN)(SR)2Y multi-mode cable for the other networks which have shorter distances, such as those used in production. Following a pilot application with a limited volume, Kleinsorge knew that he had found the right solution. Since November 2013, Krombacher has laid a total of 16 kilometres (10 miles) of both types of fibre optic cables. “We intend to gradually convert our entire network,” says Kleinsorge. “We are delighted with the entire package. And the delivery times and service are also excellent.” Krombacher is now prepared in case the world becomes more thirsty.
SOMETHING IS BREWING IN KREUZTAL
Krombacher stands out in the German beer market for one thing in particular – where one traditional brand after another is being taken over by large corporations, the company from Kreuztal in North Rhine Westphalia remains 100 percent privately owned. The company’s success proves that this has been the right way since Krombacher Pils is one of Germany’s best-selling brands of beer, and is also a market leader in the alternative alcohol-free space. Since 2006, in addition to beer, Krombacher has also been selling Schweppes, Orangina and Dr. Pepper soft drinks.