ESC Engineering Powerful results. Personal approach.

Modernization Brings Keg Line into New Millennium

A leading-edge American beer company operates a facility in Colorado and many of the process best practices in use at all of the company’s breweries nationwide were designed and tested at the Colorado facility. The aging control system for this facility’s draft keg racker consisted of eight independent, parallel lanes which interface with in-feed and discharge conveyers. ESC was hired by this brewing company to upgrade an outdated and inflexible control system which was inflexible and restricted optimal line production.


Due to the substantial re-wiring and demolition required, ESC had to overcome many physical obstacles to complete the project on time. With just a five-day outage window allowed for system construction, start-up and commissioning, an efficicient modernization process was imperative. Unlike can or bottle lines, keg production depends heavily on strict process, timing and sequence to maintain process integrity. As part of the modernization, ESC was asked to improve line security by implementing a system “lock down” to prevent unauthorized or unintentional changes to the operational parameters.


ESC’s approach satisfied all requirements of the initial project abstract and subsequent meetings. In addition, the solution relied exclusively on components already in use within the brewery’s system. To meet the tight outage, ESC proposed that a full modernization simulation be executed during the acceptance process at the panel fabrication facility. The original racker manufacturer provided a simulator to rehearse every step of the optimization. ESC used the simulator to test each normal process as well as every alarm and fault condition, allowing the racker controls to be thoroughly verified prior to production outage.


Three days of the five-day outage were devoted to construction, while two were spent on start-up and commissioning. Thanks to the simulation, very few problems were encountered during start-up. By minimizing outage time, ESC was able to deliver results with less impact to plant operations and production capacity. The original goals of modernization were not only met, but surpassed as a result of ESC’s elegant redesign.