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City Brewery Triples Production Capacity

The co-manufacturer upgraded its canning lines in six months with controllers, AC drives, and HMI software to quickly and nimbly accommodate changing consumer tastes as well as optimize operational efficiency.Maya NorrisJun 29th, 2020

City Brewery upgraded two existing canning lines and installed a third canning line at its Latrobe, Penn., plant, boosting its production capacity to 48 million cases annually.

City Brewery upgraded two existing canning lines and installed a third canning line at its Latrobe, Penn., plant, boosting its production capacity to 48 million cases annually.Photo courtesy of City Brewery.

Working fast has new meaning for City Brewery. When the La Crosse, Wis.-based co-manufacturer saw beverage trends shift to aluminum cans and flavored hard seltzers, City Brewery accelerated its five-year modernization plan to accommodate those consumer demands. It upgraded the canning lines at its Latrobe, Penn., plant in six months with controllers, AC drives, and HMI software, allowing the facility to triple its canning capacity and deliver efficiency to its operations.

City Brewery is one of the largest co-manufacturers of beers, teas, energy drinks, and soft drinks in the U.S. The company has three production facilities in La Crosse; Latrobe; and Memphis, Tenn., that produce more than 130 million cases of beverages a year for a variety of small and large brands. Staying current with the latest beverage trends is crucial to it success, according to the company. When City Brewery saw more consumers gravitating toward aluminum cans, including sleek 12-oz cans instead of glass bottles, and younger people reaching for flavored malt beverages as an alternative to beers, it decided to update its operations at its Latrobe plant to meet those changing consumer tastes.

The beverage processor  had already developed a five-year plan to modernize and expand its canning lines at its Latrobe plant. It included producing more beer in standard aluminum cans and sleek 12-oz cans. The company’s plan also involved producing and canning flavored hard seltzers, a market that reached nearly $500 million in sales in 2018, according to a 2019 study from market research firm Nielsen. City Brewery decided to speed up the timeline of its modernization plan from five years to six months after seeing these trends gain traction with consumers. 

Prior to the upgrade, City Brewery had two canning lines, each with a filler on the front end and a packer on the back end. Because both lines fed into the same pasteurizer, City Brewery could not run both at the same time. In addition, the company didn’t have the canning equipment to produce thin, sleek 12-oz cans.

“Cans have become all the rage, and our canning capacity was getting constrained,” says Mark Siegel, plant manager at the City Brewery Latrobe facility.

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