Drainage systems aren’t always the first thing brewers think of when looking to upgrade or develop their breweries, but they can have a major impact on hygiene and sustainability credentials, according to manufacturers.
Will Quinn is the Queensland and Northern Territory area manager at Blücher, a Denmark-based global manufacturer of drainage solutions, which has brought to the Australian market a range of stainless steel drainage and water saving solutions – HygienicPro.
Installed at the production facilities of major companies including Coca-Cola Amatil, Heineken, Carlsberg and Budweiser, as well as Little Creatures NZ, the HygienicPro range is focused on water saving, sanitation and sustainability – key issues in the brewing industry right now.
Stainless steel vs other materials
Quinn explained that traditionally many smaller breweries use cheaper alternatives compared to stainless steel options.
But there are practical issues with using anything but stainless steel as a material that could prove detrimental to sanitation, as well as money and water-saving aims.
“What we find is that a lot of breweries will install cheaper alternatives and after a couple of years they realise they need something that’s going to last them a lot longer,” Quinn said.
“We often see less robust drains warp and fail under heavy traffic such as forklift trucks. Stainless steel is so strong that when it comes to weight ratings we are talking tonnes, whereas alternatives don’t come close.
“Some materials are attractive because they’re cheap, but often breakdown at high temperatures.
“Hot water kills bacteria, but can also damage drainage too. So stainless steel has the added benefit of allowing you to wash your drains and not have to worry about damaging them.”
He explained that for microbreweries all the way up to the big brewers, it is an example of false economy to install cheaper options which lack the longevity of stainless steel.
“Once you’ve installed it, a few years down the line or less you often have to rip it up and cut your concrete, so it can be expensive to replace. It’s best to spend a little bit more at the start so you can set it and forget it.
“It’s more about being proactive rather than needing to have reactive maintenance.
“There are cheap imitations out there, but the reason you use Blücher HygienicPro is so that it will last for the life of the facility.”
Quinn explained that the Blücher team had designed the drainage solutions to ensure that they were as sustainable as possible, all the way through from production materials to use and end of life.
The stainless steel Blücher use is 100 per cent recyclable. However in a drainage system it’s not just the material it’s made from that is important, but the design can also have an effect on water consumption.
“Breweries can really see the value in Blücher HygienicPro because they know how much water can be saved with this new technology,” Quinn said.
“The design of the channel ensures minimum water is required to wash away waste so that drains maintain a sanitary environment,” Quinn explained.
As a result, food and beverage companies have used up to 90 per cent less water in their cleaning activities, according to Blücher.
Materials and construction
The engineers at Blücher have invested in developing HygienicPro’s design, which makes it ideal for breweries the team said.
“HygienicPro does not have any right angles, which ensures flow and that is what you need to keep bacteria out of your drainage system,” Quin explained.
“Let’s imagine you’re cleaning a baking dish, the hardest bit to clean are the corners, which are more or less a right angle.”
It is also a step up from other drainage products, in that it is internationally certified for health and safety, including ISO, WaterMark and HACCP International (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) standards, which regulate food safety systems in production processes. Large brewers such as Heineken prefer HACCP-certified products in their facilities.
Quinn also went on to explain that Blucher’s range stretches much further than the HygienicPro.
“With over 50 years of drainage experience, the team here in ANZ not only provide our standard range of HygienicPro products but also an abundance of point drains, push-fit piping solutions and many other custom made items for the food and beverage production industry.
“We regularly collaborate with designers, facilities and installers to achieve success.”