Big project at Molson Coors: KHS demonstrates its line and packaging expertise

Where breweries were once a fixed feature of inner cities all over the world, today, more and more companies are abandoning their confined urban premises in favour of the surrounding countryside. Here, they have room for expansion – and for new and highly flexible filling and packaging technology from KHS.

The Molson Coors facility in British Columbia, the westernmost province of Canada, did exactly the same two years ago. From the metropolis of Vancouver, home to the brewery since 1953, the production site was moved to Chilliwack in Fraser Valley about 100km to the east. There are practically no limits to its future growth with 36 hectares of land at its disposal – five times the area the brewery had in the middle of the provincial capital. Opened in September 2019, the site is just a stone’s throw from the northern border of the United States and has a direct link to the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s thus, in the perfect position to fulfill its task of supplying the west of Canada and the USA with beverages. The other site conditions are also ideal: in the largely agricultural region hops are grown – just 15mins from the brewery – that give many of the beers brewed here their distinctive taste. What’s more, tucked in between Fraser River and the Cascades, a mountain range that stretches right down to California, the water here is of excellent purity and quality – which is essential for a brewery.

Long-term partnership with KHS

What’s also crucial for a beverage bottler who wants to create totally new production capacities out in the country, are state-of-the-art technology and a reliable partner who can be fully depended on during installation, commissioning and day-to-day operation. It was, thus, good that in opting for KHS the brewery has a partner at its side that it has trusted for many, many years. “Molson Coors and KHS have had close ties for more than 100 years,” says David Hamel, general operations manager at the new production plant in Chilliwack. He has ‘only’ been with the company for 18 years, but at his earlier place of work in Montreal worked in part with systems built by KHS’ predecessor companies in the 1970s. “I’ve been able to see with my own eyes how these machines from way back in the past have technically developed into the highly modern filling and packaging lines of the present day.” He also finds the fact that his employer and a high-tech supplier can look back on such a long history “a strong statement”.

It’s only logical that Molson Coors has now procured not one but three lines from the Dortmund systems supplier for its greenfield project. One of these is a new glass line that fills up to 36 000 341ml bottles per hour, where the focus was very much on the future viability of its labelling and packaging options. A modular Innoket SE labeler was, therefore, included that processes different types of labels and can be supplemented by other modules as and when required. Another special feature of this particular line is the packer, a KHS Innopack TLM that has been implemented in close cooperation with packaging specialist Schubert from Crailsheim, Germany. The blocked system, comprising a packer and erecting and closing modules, is convincing with its great flexibility. It not only processes trays, but also folding cartons (what are known as RSC cartons), baskets and craft cartons, a fully-enclosed variant made of solid carboard. As many different types of carton can be folded, glued and filled on it, the machine is a real Jack of all trades.

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