HES Tractec takes Molson Coors Brewery up a gear 01 August 2012

UK brewery Molson Coors has installed 20 Comer gearboxes, supplied by HES Tractec, to power the rotating floors of four germination vessels at its maltings site in Shobnall, Burton-upon-Trent.

Project and electrical engineering manager at the Burton-upon-Trent site, Steve Holyoake, explains that after 30 years of operation, the plant needed refurbishment, including an upgrade of component parts.
"With eight germination vessels in total across the site, if just one of those vessels were to fail for a day, one eighth of our production capacity is lost – equivalent to 280 tonnes of barley," says Holyoake.

"There is a monthly servicing programme in place as well as condition monitoring for preventative and predictive maintenance, but with the tower being over 30 years old, and many of the original parts now obsolete or difficult to procure, the decision was made to upgrade and modernise, using the latest in technology, both mechanically and electrically."

Having worked with Group HES and HES Tractec for many years, the project sub-contractor recommended planetary gearboxes, manufactured by Comer Industries and distributed in the UK by HES Tractec, to main contractor Mectek Mechanical Services.

A key factor in the specification of the gearboxes was their durability and ability to withstand the extreme conditions of the germination vessels, which are close to 100% humidity.

With the tower containing four germination vessels, each with a rotating floor, Molson Coors needed 16 Comer gearboxes, plus four spares. Each vessel floor works independently, with each gearbox driven through an electric motor. Holyoake and his team drive the motors using variable speed drives, so enabling more accurate speed change. They also help to reduce the output of the gearbox, so minimising wear and tear.

Mounted onto its own frame, each electric motor then powers the rack and pinion mechanism that runs the outer circumference of the floor, thus powering the rotation.
"The vessels are now all refurbished and up to standard. One vessel was delivered a week ahead of schedule, which was an unexpected but welcome result, putting Shobnall Maltings back into production early," states Holyoake.

"This is all proof of how the installation of new technology can improve both the operation and engineering of a plant as well as giving us the reassurance that if things go wrong we can react efficiently with immediate access to spares."

Brian Tinham

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