Top three adjustments for microbreweries facing the realities of COVID-19

Top three adjustments for microbreweries facing the realities of COVID-19

Check out the top three changes for microbreweries in adapting to coronavirus: bottling, transferring to cans and automating production lines to respect physical distancing. Discover how these changes work and how your beer bottles and cans are marked.

How does COVID-19 affect our local microbreweries?

As a Quebec-based brewer, you have experienced your share of changes over the past few months: you need to find solutions to respond to the growing demand for Quebec products while accommodating to dining room closings and slowing traffic in restaurants.

Because of regulations that prohibit the delivery of craft beer directly to clients (except for restaurant license holders, which requires the beer you deliver to be stamped (see « Home beer delivery »)), you fall in the throes of traceability standards required for retail sales in grocery stores, the SAQ and convenience stores. 

The good news is that it is possible to adapt your production lines and automate sections to produce, bottle and deliver more beer while respecting physical distancing. DMS works diligently to offer suitable services and efficient bottling solutions at reasonable costs for microbreweries of all sizes. 

Three major changes observed in microbreweries during COVID-19

1. You must now bottle your beer

If you are running a microbrewery, you most likely were accustomed to distributing kegs for restaurants and bars. To survive the pandemic, you must now bottle your beer previously in kegs to distribute through the SAQ, convenience stores and grocery stores.

To pass from producing kegs to bottles or cans, you must first adapt your production lines. Whether you need to add a filler, capper, canning line,  a conveyor, or other equipment, we can help you while respecting the regulations in place. 

Products and equipment you need for marking beer bottles

For retail sales, you must affix labels on your beer (alcohol content, expiration date and lot number). To mark your bottles, we have numerous versatile and flexible solutions. Here are a few options available to you: 

Highly adhesive ink even in damp environments

Our team can advise you on the best options for continuous inkjet printers. Our Citronix continuous inkjet printers allow for excellent adhesion. The Mek ink that we supply with this printer is among one of the most high-resistant products on the market.

System adapted for small-scale production

If you do not operate in continuous production, we may recommend an inkjet system with HP cartridges.  Because continuous inkjet printing is slow to restart, this option is better adapted to uninterrupted production.

It is important to know that labelling solutions may vary depending on the position of your bottle cleaning station, whether before or after labelling. As mentioned, a more adhesive ink must be used if your bottles are cleaned after marking. Our project management team can work with you to create a personalized solution and put it in place.

Brewer supervising the bottling process by checking his production line.

2. Transferring from bottled beer to cans 

During the pandemic, returning deposit bottles to merchants was not allowed. Even once the health crisis subsides, some brewers are afraid that reusable bottles will continue to be associated with the spread of germs. That is why many brewers have transferred permanently from bottled beer to cans.

The best inkjet solution for distance marking on cans

For printing on cans, the same regulations apply as for bottles. Marking options thus remain the same. However, we prefer Citronix inkjet printers because of their ability to print at a distance. The lot number is usually indicated on the can, in the bottom hollow. The Citronix printer can print under the can at a greater distance than the HP cartridge system that requires a distance of at least 3 millimetres.

Marking on sleeves

In addition to the options mentioned previously, the lot numbers, expiration dates and alcohol contents may also be identified on your plastic sleeves. 

At DMS, we can help you apply the sleeves on your cans by offering label applicators, but these sleeves are generally printed by specialized companies and delivered to your microbrewery. 

Contact us to learn more about sleeve heating and application systems for adhesion to your aluminum cans. 

3. You must respect physical distancing on your production lines through automation

Though your employees are now back to work, it is often necessary to have fewer employees on the floor in order to respect physical distancing regulations. 

Some microbreweries have chosen to automate certain sections of their production lines to allow employees to respect the 2-metre distance and protect productivity at the same time.

Automatic labelling thanks to artificial intelligence 

You can use bottle labelling machines such as this one or even integrate artificial intelligence into your production line to completely automate the labelling process. Automatons will send a signal to label printing applications equipped with viewing cameras that will do all the work with no manual intervention. You can also explore all the available industrial marking options for production lines in this other article.

Depending on your needs, we can slowly begin to integrate automation solutions into your production lines, or we can make great progress very quickly. No matter where your vision is leading, at DMS, we can help you automate your production lines in part or in whole.

DMS works diligently  to offer services adapted to microbreweries of all sizes.

An automated production line for can marking that respects social distancing.

Let us help you adjust

When you call on us, we will evaluate your needs and your microbrewery's specific challenges depending on your production and the regulations in place. You can be sure that your labelling system's installation will be smooth, quick and efficient, with minimum production interruptions. We can also suggest the best location to install your printer on the production line to ensure the most efficient printing.

With DMS, you will benefit from turnkey labelling solutions: we install the new equipment, we are available at all times for maintenance and repairs, and we even train your team on the machines.

I want to learn more about these products