Infra-Red ensures labels stick on beer bottles

An infra-red heating system from Heraeus Noblelight is ensuring that there is no condensation on bottles after they are moved form an outside storage area to a warmer inside labelling and filling line at the Ellon, Aberdeenshire, brewery of BrewDog PLC. As a result, labels remain securely stuck on bottles and the filling line can be operated at optimum speed.


BrewDog was founded by two young craft ale enthusiasts, James Watt and Martin Dickie, in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, in 2007 and in only its second year became Scotland’s largest independent brewery. In 2009, they launched Equity for Punks, a crowd-funding scheme to help support their ambitious expansion plans and in 2012 they moved to the state-of-the art brewery in Ellon. Today, they have brewing facilities in the US and Germany and operate over 100 bars worldwide, offering a range of over 100 beers.


The Ellon brewery is still their flagship installation and here they produce keg, canned and bottled beers. However, they had experienced problems with label adhesion to bottles and these were further highlighted when they installed a second bottling line at Ellon. Essentially, the problems were caused by condensation on cold bottles as they were labelled in the warmer atmosphere inside the brewery. Various methods were tried to solve the problem including the extensive use of hot air blowers and an air knife Unfortunately these achieved only limited success and it proved necessary to reduce the speed of the bottling line to achieve the required label adhesion.


BrewDog had previously investigated the use of infra-red to prevent condensation on an earlier line and it was decided to ask Heraeus Noblelight to carry out further tests on the latest line. These proved so successful that a 90kW carbon medium wave system was retrofitted to the line, before the labelling section. This consists of two 45kW modules, which are PID controlled. The temperature on the bottle surfaces is monitored and the IR power is then automatically regulated at between 50-70% of the installed load to maintain a pre-set temperature.


The infra-red system has now solved the label adhesion problem. As Alain Atmouni, production projects manager at the site, comments, “Apart from solving our labelling problem, the new system now allows us run the bottling line at optimum speed”


Heraeus specialises in the production and application of high quality energy sources covering the electro-magnetic spectrum from ultraviolet to infra-red. It has over 40 years experience in infra-red technology and offers the expertise, products and systems to provide efficient and effective solutions to drying, heating and curing problems throughout industry.


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