Washes and racks kegs in just one operating step: the new Innokeg X module from KHS is the ideal system for craft breweries and saves time, money and space.
KHS will be presenting its new development to the public for the very first time at the Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville, USA. Six years ago the compact Innokeg module was successfully launched for the low-capacity range, supplied as either a filler (Innokeg AF) or a washer (Innokeg AC). KHS is now once again proactively approaching the ever-growing microbrewery segment: in its semi-automatic Innokeg X washing and filling module the Dortmund systems supplier combines both functions on a single station that can process up to 25 returnable kegs an hour holding up to 58 liters. This provides smaller fillers of craft beer and medium-sized and large breweries who offer special seasonal or event-related beverages in small batches with a space-saving and efficient system.
Two functions in a single step
The new multiple processing head that replaces the previous two heads – one for cleaning and one for racking – performs both functions in a single step, meaning that the keg now only has to be placed on and connected up to the module once. This cuts down on the amount of time needed and reduces wear on the fittings, the filling and tap valves on the containers. The consistent hygienic design of the washing and filling module is also new: here, all previously horizontal surfaces have been slightly sloped to facilitate the runoff of liquids. The media valves have been positioned so that they are readily accessible and the tank has an easy-clean cylindrical shape with no corners or edges. The machine also features smart technology: thanks to the integration of IO-Link the module is equipped with sensors and actuators for measuring pressure or the level probes, for example.
What’s more, the new development boasts several highlights regarding its footprint and efficiency: besides the cost of investment being lower than that for larger or specialized modules, the time and space needed to operate the machinery has been minimized. The Innokeg X takes up just 1.8 square meters of space in production – about a third less than that required by semi-automatic systems with separate washing and filling stations.
Moreover, as the keg only has to be positioned on the module once instead of twice, the time needed by the operator is halved. The level of convenience has tripled, however: firstly, the table height has been lowered so that kegs are easier to lift and position. Secondly, the operator panel is at exact eye level. And thirdly, all valves are accessible, making not only operation but also maintenance easier, the extent of which has been considerably reduced by the lower number of spare parts. “We’ve optimized the ergonomics of our new module right down to the last detail,” states Roger Daum, keg product manager.
The new machine also scores on flexibility: the key options here include subsequent expansion of the Innokeg X by up to four modules that can all be easily managed by just one operator. This is what the “X” for “expandable” refers to in the product name. “To further increase the ease of operation, we also offer a number of bookable extras,” Daum announces. “These include, for instance, a preparation platform for the next kegs, a keg slide that enables the full barrels weighing more than 60 kilos to easily slide onto the pallet and customizable media preparation packages.”
The marketing campaign is also to explore new avenues to mirror the innovative nature of the module. “We’ll initially focus on those markets where small batches are especially relevant,” says Daum. “We’re planning on offering the new Innokeg X online. After all, this is a plug-and-produce system that can be used immediately on delivery, with little effort needed for installation. And the delivery time of about four weeks is also reasonably short.” KHS USA Inc. will also be exhibiting the new kegging system live at its booth (no. 1135) at this year’s Craft Brewers Conference from May 7 to 10.