Process and Operations / Plant Maintenance / Equipment Products

Case Study: Better Malt Makes Better Beer

And better malt results from a breakdown-free process at Malteurop North America, thanks to triple-sealed bearings.

Malt, a processed form of barley, is one of the key ingredients used to brew beer. Often referred to as the "soul" of beer, malt provides most of the complex carbohydrates and sugars needed to give this beverage its distinctive flavor and color.

The Malteurop Group, one of the world's leading malt producers, has perfected the control required to produce premium quality malt barley. Although headquartered in Reims, France, Malteurop acquired ADM Malting in 2008, including a malting facility in Milwaukee, a city historically linked to the beer industry. Soon after, work began to upgrade the facility, including one of the large malt houses at the plant.

Gary McLoughlin, vice president of operations for Malteurop North America, says all 12 malting beds needed to be upgraded, replacing aging equipment with more reliable and more efficient technology. Each bed is nearly 127 ft. long and 18 ft. wide and holds 100 tons of cleaned and hydrated barley.

Over a four-day period, 11 screw mixers move back and forth through the bed while the barley germinates. Moisture levels are maintained or raised during this process by moving humidified air through the barley. McLoughlin says there is no room for error in this time-critical process because equipment failure can result in substandard barley malt.

"Once we give the barley water and air, there is no stopping the germination process –– the barley doesn't care that we've had a breakdown, it just keeps growing," he explains. "If we are down too long, we'll have to throw the batch out. If we can't evacuate the bed in time, we have a real problem with backing up production because there is always a batch waiting. This is why equipment reliability is so important to us."

The high humidity and the extensive cleaning between batches led to a high failure rate for both mechanical and electrical equipment. Working with Kurz Electric Solutions, a local distributor helping with repair work, Dave Hinners, the facility's project engineer, mentioned bearings were especially troubling, difficult to maintain and even more difficult to remove.

The Kurz team demonstrated the features of the Dodge Imperial bearing. "The unique mounting method of this bearing makes it easy to install but also easy to remove," says Hinners. "But it's the triple-lip sealing system that really sold us on the Imperial. The biggest enemy in our facility is water, and if we can keep water out, a major problem is solved."

Needing to be certain before making the final decision, an Imperial bearing was installed to see how it would perform. Hinners says after an 18-month test, he got the results he was hoping for.

"Taking a bearing off in the past would have involved hydraulics, torches and saws," says Hinners. "But the Imperial was easy to get off. The sealing system worked because this bearing looked very good."

While the bearing was under test, a motor and gearbox package was put together. The products had to be engineered to withstand the harsh conditions, and because this was a retrofit, they had to fit the existing envelope. Because motors were failing due to severely corroded housings, Baldor's SSE Stainless Steel Super-E motor was recommended.

"This stainless motor is designed to perform in harsh conditions longer than anything else available today," says Glynn. "And, to make sure we could get the right reducer to fit, the Dodge sales engineer helped us with a design for the Dodge Quantis E-Z Kleen. And just like the bearing test, we placed a plate from the unit in the environment to prove that the reducers' 13-step coating system would hold up without rusting –– and it did."

As an added benefit, Baldor preassembled the motors and gearboxes, so the Malteurop team didn't have to worry about assembly on-site.

With the project nearly complete, McLoughlin says he's pleased with the results. Between the performance, reliability and energy savings these products offer, he is convinced they have found the right solution. He credits the success to the skills of the in-house engineering team and the expertise provided by the partners.

"This has been a significant project for us," says McLoughlin. But with this collaboration and the attention to detail, the project is a success. "We knew what we wanted, and with help, we got what we wanted. And now we believe we have the right solution."