South American Brewery Benchmark Trip
In January 2011, a team from MillerCoors visited three SABMiller plc-affiliated South American breweries that have successfully reduced water and energy use in their operations and reduced their environmental footprint in the region. The Arequipa and Ate Breweries in Peru and the Boyacá Brewery in Colombia were chosen for this benchmark trip because they have achieved strong results in reducing energy and water use, improved process efficiency and decreased beer loss.
When the MillerCoors team visited, they observed first-hand the South American breweries’ sustainable environmental practices. To improve energy efficiency, the breweries recover and reuse heat energy and recover and reuse steam energy from brewhouse operations. The breweries are filled with windows that take advantage of natural light, thereby reducing demand for electric lighting. To reduce water usage, the breweries optimize beer pipe and beer tank cleaning systems and, where possible, use their last rinse cycle to start the next cleaning cycle. Brewery grounds are landscaped with drought-tolerant plants to reduce demand for irrigation. To reduce waste, the breweries carefully maintain their equipment for maximum operational efficiency with a focus on avoiding spilling or wasting product.
The MillerCoors team was particularly impressed by the South American breweries’ use of short-interval controls, a process by which employees monitor brewery performance in real time at several intervals within a work shift. Short-interval controls give brewery managers a chance to quickly correct problems or take advantage of opportunities as they arise and directly engage employees in day-to-day brewery operations.
Based on the MillerCoors team’s experiences, we developed a plan to incorporate the South American breweries’ short-interval control and other best practices into our U.S. operations. We focused on how we can achieve our sustainability objectives not only through capital expenditures for new innovative technology or for upgrades to older equipment to improve efficiency, but also by changing our work culture. We ask our management and all of our employees to help identify and implement improved work practices with the end goal of using water and energy more efficiently.