As you approach the Cölner Hofbräu P. Josef Früh KG premises, it soon becomes clear that the popularity of Kölsch beer extends well beyond its home town. The vast amount of beer brewed on the 100,000 m2 site is far too much to be drunk by the residents of Cologne alone.
Früh Kölsch is actually a nationwide brand sold through large chain stores and specialist beverage wholesalers. Thanks to its fresh taste, the top-fermented full-strength beer is enjoyed even abroad.
The brewery, which was founded in 1904, was situated right next to Cologne Cathedral for more than eighty years. In 1987, the company relocated to the north of the city, where a modern, large-scale brewery was set up, which brews around 365,000 hectolitres of Früh Kölsch each year. After further construction work, a second bottle filling line was commissioned in 2006. This fills up to 35,000 bottles per hour.
The Früh brewery produces around 365,000 hectolitres of Kölsch per year – with the highest hygiene standards.
An excellent set of metrics supported the brewery's decision to improve its compressed air generation. “We always record the compressed air energy consumption and the volume flow generated. This gives us a precise overview of the compressed air costs and enables us to carry out targeted optimisation measures.”
The logical extension of the fixed-speed oil-free compressors was a regulated-speed oil-free compressor for use as a peak load machine. Früh had acquired one in 2006 but was not satisfied with its high maintenance costs and subpar reliability.
Optimising the energy required for compressed air generation is a key task for Axel Spelzhaus, as the compressed air station accounts for 10% of the brewery's entire electricity consumption. Compressed air aside, Früh also goes to great lengths to continually increase energy efficiency during operation. In the brewhouse, the utilisation of waste heat has been optimised, and the power of the cooling devices now automatically adjusts to suit the actual demand and the prevailing weather conditions.
Also, three years ago the brewery commissioned its own CHP, which produces 20% of the brewery's electricity while simultaneously supplying steam and heat. “Working together with the production managers, the process flows are constantly tested, and data is collected and evaluated with the aim of making production as energy efficient as possible.
Thanks to our process control system, energy generation and production can be linked with one another. And our ISO 50001-certified energy management system, which we introduced in 2015, brings it all together,” comments Axel Spelzhaus. The company therefore still has some work to do before they have fully optimised their compressed air generation. One of their next steps is to install a new combined control system.
“The optimum interplay of compressors plays a key role in achieving the most economical compressor station configuration - and creating outsize compressed air efficiency gains,” says industrial engineer Mark Mönnichs, Managing Director of Hermann Mönnichs Drucklufttechnik GmbH.