Food In Canada

How to streamline project management in breweries

By Connie Jones   

Business Operations breweries

The beverage industry is marked by rapid shifts in technology, trends, and tastes. For any given brewery, being able to keep up with changing customer demands and preferences is an essential aspect of a facility’s continued success and is something that can not always be accomplished alone, especially for larger and more complex operations. Employing the assistance of an engineering consultancy firm can help budding breweries solve a variety of problems they may be facing and assists them in streamlining operations and production schedules to increase output and efficiency.

When a brewery is working on a project, whether it be a new beverage they have planned or general facility upgrades, managing that project correctly is crucial to its success. It can be difficult to run a brewery and manage its growth all at the same time, so this is where consultancy firms usually enter the picture. In most cases, project management is a part of a larger process engineering consultation, as a natural accompaniment toward the latter half of a project.

Consultancy firms and their relationship with clients

Typically, a process engineering consultancy works closely with the client’s own technical teams to develop a solution that best suits their needs. Once a solution has been designed and approved, the consultancy can then assist with procurement and development. When work starts on a given project, the consultancy firm engages in construction management and project management on behalf of the client. The best process engineering consultancies function as an extension of the client, making decisions in their best interest and achieving high quality solutions.


The benefits of involving a process engineering consultancy, instead of a brewery doing all the work themselves, are numerous. Primarily, it allows for access to seasoned process engineering consultants that have dealt with many clients over a large span of time, affording them unparalleled proficiency as they tackle all aspects of brewery upgrades or expansions. In relation to this wealth of knowledge exists a wealth of connections, which top process engineering consultancies have cultivated through decades of operation that can be leveraged to secure equipment quickly and, sometimes, more affordably. Process engineering consultancies thus offer convenience to the client, handling design, planning, purchasing, installation, and so on.

Aspects of project management important to breweries

A crucial part of brewery project management concerns tank utilization. Tanks often represent a significant amount of a project’s budget, so ensuring that the optimal number of tanks are present and properly utilized is key when it comes to engineering an efficient brewery process. A brewery with too many tanks may outpace its packaging capabilities, leading to wasted product, or it could have too little tank storage and fail to meet a desired level of output, leading to lowered revenue.

Fermenting, aging and bright tanks are all aspects of a brewery, which, if overlooked, can be utilized incorrectly or inefficiently, potentially leading to wasted product. Since product can only be stored in a bright tank for a certain amount of time before needing to be packaged, planning the scheduling and capacity of the process as a whole is critical.

Losing product because it cannot be processed fast enough at the final hurdle of packaging is unacceptable. Simple as that. Process engineering consultancy firms are well equipped to calculate and implement these calculations and balances into the design of a brewery, and properly manage a brewery’s resources to minimize waste and inefficiencies.

A final consideration related to tank capacity and utilization is a brewery’s filtration capacity. These can be similarly expensive to tanks and can cause bottlenecks which could drastically impact production. Understanding the ratio between tank capacity, filtration capacity, and packaging capacity is essential for any brewery, and process engineering consultancies are well-equipped to identify shortfalls and run calculations in the name of designing the best solution for any facility.

An engineering process consultancy will handle all aspects of a brewery’s project management when it comes to ironing out the most efficient process possible and allow the brewery to focus on refining their offerings and pleasing their customers.

Beyond capacity calculations: licensing, regulations, and product safety

Anything within the realm of food and beverage manufacturing is subject to strict regulations and safety procedures to ensure only the highest quality products are shipped to consumers. Proper sanitation procedures and clean in place (CIP) capabilities are crucial to a facility running smoothly and above code. Breweries, somewhat uniquely, deal extensively with yeast and bacteria in their production processes and must be especially careful to ensure that no pathogens or bacteria are present in the final product shipped to customers.

To this end, there are special considerations when it comes to piping and welding. Obviously, breweries rely heavily on both, as they transport materials between stages of production and various vessels, skids, tanks, and filling equipment. Within any brewery, there will be all manner of pipes situated in different orientations and slopes, and poor design or planning can lead to “dead legs”, where liquids pool in parts of piping and sit for extended periods of time, running the risk of bacteria buildup. If this is overlooked during design and implementation, it may not become apparent immediately, leading to complications in the future where a brewery is frantically searching for the source of bacteria in their final product. Welds must also be sanitary and quality welds, with external and internal inspections completed to verify cleanliness.

For new products or processes, multiple inspections, certifications, and regulations are needed before anything can be pushed to market. For example, a brewery aiming to transition to seltzer production will appreciate the assistance of process engineering consultancy firms, who know the ins and outs of regulations through countless client experiences. Consultancy firms can guide clients through application processes and help them get started on the right path to properly certified and approved facilities. Within Canada specifically, there exists a CRN (Canadian Registration Number) system that reviews, and registers designs for pressurized equipment, and a governing body must approve initial designs, field-testable solutions, and the finished product before projects can be finalized. Additionally, there are regulations related to taxation when it comes to the production of various alcoholic beverages, with certain licenses needed for certain types of drinks. Process engineering consultancies have more than enough experience to assist the client and guide them through what licenses and certifications are needed for operation, as well as helping them get started on the application process.

Training and asset care

With new systems comes the need for extensive training for end users. Usually, a process engineering consultancy can assist in two different ways: having OEMs of specific equipment come in and offer training, and extensive instruction related to systems the consultancy has built. Sometimes both are necessary, depending on the nature of the project, but breweries can rest assured that their partnered firm is ready to teach them everything they need to know to get the most out of their equipment and staff.

Asset care is also something that can be handled by process engineering consultancies. Documentation such as SOPs, FMEAs, LOTOTO, CILs, maintenance programs and spare parts analysis are provided to the client, in addition to functional descriptions of equipment for the purposes of end user education.

Looking to the future

Besides revamping current systems and introducing new production lines, there are other advancements that modern process engineering consultancies are working towards including in as many projects as possible. A big topic currently is the use of plastics. In Canada, there is legislation which has banned the manufacturing and import of single-use plastics since December 2022, and will completely ban sale of single-use plastics by 2023. This will have a significant impact on the packaging aspect of breweries specifically, as plastic ring carriers have been a common aspect of multi-pack beverages for some time.

Reducing CO2 use is also a common effort made by many process engineering consultancies, as they strive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by replacing its use with nitrogen or other gasses. As in other industries, automation through the use of robotics is an emerging area in brewery project management. Labour intensive processes can be streamlined through advanced robots, allowing tighter and leaner scheduling for facilities.

Connie Jones is the general manager with Actemium Toronto – Services. She is responsible for Actemium Toronto’s operations as well as advancing service levels to their focus industries.

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