MEXICO – World’s second largest brewer, Heineken has opened its largest production facility in Meoqui, Nothern Mexico as the Dutch brewer seeks to further increase its footprint in the dynamic and promising market.

The US$440 million greenfield site has an annual production of 500 million liters employing 500 people and an additional 1,500 indirect positions, now becoming the largest production facility in the Heineken Group.

The project encompasses six lines, four of which were supplied and commissioned by KHS. The facility’s machine program covers practically the entire KHS product range: from bottle washers through fillers, labelers, pasteurizers, and packaging machines to palletizers.

Heineken noted that the design of the facility allows for maximum flexibility. Heineken will be producing two types of beer, six beer styles and 13 brands at the facility in Meoqui including Heineken, Tecate, Dos Equis and Indio, among others.

This range, filled into various containers of differing size, results in a diversity of stock keeping units (SKUs) and many possible combinations while at the same time allows for the shortest possible setup times for format changeovers and maximum flexibility in labeling.

In addition, there is also a slightly unusual requirement regarding the secondary packaging: instead of plastic crates, returnable cardboard boxes holding 12 or 20 bottles are used, the handling of which presents a certain technical challenge.

Eusebio Reynoso Razo, the plant manager highlighted that maximum flexibility was also needed in other areas of the project.

“Owing to current market demands we were forced to change the original order of the lines for commissioning according to the SKUs we needed most,” Reynoso says.

He explained that in the first few months alone, over 30 different SKUs were processed on the 4 KHS lines and over 1.2 million hectoliters filled into glass bottles and packaged.

Brewing a better world

In keeping with its commitment to “brew a better world” Heineken México has put significant emphasis on sustainability at the new facility.

The brewer, the factory in Meoqui was erected according to the latest principles of the circular economy – with the focus on renewable energies and an efficient use of water.

Heineken has installed photovoltaic cells in the brewery windows which the company said can generate about 12% of the total electricity needed on site. Wind power will supply the remaining energy requirements.

The Heineken brewery also aims to become the lowest consumption of water in the world – by 2020 utilizing just two litres of water for one litre of beer. As such the company installed wastewater treatment facility as the site.

To further achieve this target, among others, Heineken also opted for sustainable systems from KHS.

The bottle washing machines, which together with the pasteurizers are usually the biggest consumers of water on a line, are equipped with cutting-edge technology which drastically reduces both the amount of water needed and the energy consumption.

On the fillers, too, new vacuum pump cooling systems consume much less water – over US$330,000 can be saved per line and year.

This is naturally a decisive factor for plant manager Reynoso. “By sustainability we not only understand that we have an ecological responsibility but also see this on an economic level,” he said.

Reynoso generally has even more plans for his vast bottling facility. “In the future we want to address the topic of line digitalization,” he said.

“The aim is to be able to correlate and predict various process indicators to boost performance. By further optimizing the use of materials and resources we’ll be able to make our filling and packaging processes even more efficient.”