When Steam Brewing – pioneers of the New Zealand brewpub and contract brewing industries – needed a one-stop packaging solution to help them meet market demand they turned to Econocorp – the US company with a similarly long and successful track record.
For close to 30 years New Zealand’s Steam Brewing have been perennial high achievers. As one of the country’s oldest and largest craft breweries they originally helped pioneer the brewpub scene in the mid-1990s with their widely successful Cock & Balls venues. Then by 2015 they had once again proved to be pack leaders when they diversified their business model and were the first company to seriously offer partner brewing services – to not just a maturing New Zealand craft beer industry but to the wider beverages market in general.
For their troubles in producing the full gamut of beers for the likes of Behemoth, Epic and Bach, but also a range of drinks that cover everything from canned, ready-to-drink spirits to organic juices, Steam were awarded the Brewers Guild of New Zealand’s Champion Manufacturer Award for five years straight from 2015.
It’s an achievement that Steam’s Director Steve Kermode said was aided in no small part by their Spartan Beverage Automatic Cartoner, built by, and even tweaked to their special requirements, by Econocorp Inc. – the US company that’s been manufacturing packaging machines for over 60 years and building equipment specific to craft breweries for the last 16 years.
When Steam’s partner brewing services started to gain real traction in the market Steve said they had initially invested in a plastic can handle applicator, but that it hardly even came out of the box it was sent in. Due to the movement in New Zealand to move beyond single-use plastics Steve said there was real reluctance from retailers to see beers packaged in that way. He said he needed a solution, and fast.
“This is the point that we came across the fully enclosed box,” Steve said. “It not only looks like a premium product but in New Zealand cardboard is so well known by the consumer as a recyclable product, it seemed the best way forward.
“The problem was though no equipment on the market seemed like it would prove a good fit for our Angelus rotary filler and seamer which runs anywhere between 120 and 300 cans per minute. Our customers don’t want to look the same as the other person on the shelf, so we wanted to offer all-sized cans – from little ones, big ones, sleek cans and even squat cans. We also wanted to package them up in different sized cartons like four packs, or 10 or 12 or whatever, and be able to create multi-packs – where there are different styles of beers inside the one carton.
“We needed an all-in-one solution and that’s when we came across Econocorp.”
Steve said the “clincher” in choosing to go with Econocorp for their packaging solution was that they “were willing to adapt to our needs”. With the help of New Zealand’s Forbes Packaging, Econocorp were able to deliver a new Spartan cartoner to Steam that would cater to all of their needs – from packaging 15 different carton styles (based on can type, size and carton material) to handling up to 35 cartons per minute.
“Econocorp were willing to adapt to our needs,” Steve said. “And when we made contact, they were brilliant at getting back to you. We’d ask a question and it felt like 10 minutes later we had an answer. They provided an extremely good service.
“It also helps that the machine is solid, American-built machinery. The cartons it packs are very solid too. Once the cans are inside them, they go through the machine and are pressed in tightly and glued. Out the carton pops robust and solid.”
Econocorp’s Director of Sales and Marketing Alfonso Posada said their ability to solve Steam’s problems has been mirrored in over 450 other craft beverage companies where they’ve installed machines for all production levels and to not just handle beer but wine, coffee, tea, energy drinks and more.
“Our equipment is known for its durability, reliability and usability at a moderate cost,” Alfonso said. “Econocorp’s focus, when it comes to cartoning and case packing automation, is to increase a brewery’s throughput and to provide total equipment effectiveness, by providing operating efficiencies greater than or equal to 98.5%. In general, our systems will increase productivity by over 50%.
“All equipment is manufactured with simplicity in mind, using minimal parts in the design to reduce maintenance and repair costs. Our reliable packaging material can increase output volume and decrease labour hours, creating a higher revenue for our clients. Our commitment to excellence has been a recipient of the President’s “E Star” Award.”
Econocorp’s machines are installed to meet the specifics of the popular canning lines in use in Australia, from Krones, CFT Group, KHS, Cody, Cask, Comac, Alpha, ABE, Twin Monkey’s, Wild Goose and more. They are also designed with flexibility in mind and can change from one can size to another in between 15 and 30 minutes.
“Econocorp has experience in understanding a craft beverage customer’s needs,” Alfonso added. “We have experience in the Oceania region and work with sales partners in Australia who can provide sales and technical support to the local breweries.
“In addition, Econocorp works together with major carton manufacturer to assure the cartons are designed properly to run on our automated systems.”
For over 60 years, Econocorp Inc. has been recognised as a worldwide leader in manufacturing cartoning, case packing and tray forming equipment for the packaging industry. Their commitment to quality and efficiency has led to the production of innovative equipment that is simple to use and maintain, making it an economical and smart choice for clients. At their head office in Randolph, Massachusetts, they design and manufacture packaging machines for a broad spectrum of industries and products segments. The facility includes engineering, manufacturing, assembly, management, sales and marketing, administration, and service.
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