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Smooth keg handling by B&Bs Geoff Hammonds

Until around 1978/9 all kegs were handled on pallets, with manual handling at the end of the line. A packaging manager working for Joshua Tetley Leeds then asked the German attachment manufacturer, Kaup, if they could manufacture a clamp to handle kegs and casks. After extensive trials the keg clamp was introduced to the marketplace and the brewing industry quickly began to realise the enormous savings to be made by not using pallets.

Nowadays, the keg clamp can handle all types of kegs and casks. It is an indispensable tool for the brewing industry providing excellent visibility, fast, reliable operation and durable construction. Standard features include low profile stabiliser with long lasting rubber pads; wear indicators on tines, solenoid valve and end of stroke cushioning on sideshift movement.

OPERATIONS

There are two distinct operations within the keg handling industry

Brewery

A brewery is usually a 24-hour operation, 365 days per year handling full unit loads. Plastic locators board separates the layers of the load and correctly position the load for stacking purposes. The total load is then marshalled at the end of the kegging line by the clamp truck and then either taken to the warehouse or to a vehicle for overnight trunking to various depots. Utilising plastic locator boards alongside keg clamps increases the trunking vehicle payload and save warehouse floor space as well as eliminating pallet purchase and maintenance costs.

Distribution

Distribution is not usually a 24-hour operation. The clamp truck removes the full unit loads from vehicle to warehouse but then splits the load to make up various loads for the local delivery vehicles. This is has to be done by early morning but the trucks then do other duties around the depot. Empty kegs are loaded onto the trunking vehicles for return to the brewery.

FEATURES & BENEFITS

Keg clamps, such as those manufactured by Kaup, are robustly made and provide excellent visibility and fast, reliable operation. They enable a secure grip of kegs and casks and allow for easy pallet handling without the removal of the centre tine. To suit the requirements of the brewing industry, keg clamps are now available in three different models of clamp with differing tine and stabiliser lengths. In addition they are equipped with alternative opening ranges, integral mounts, or quick release mountings. Keg clamps are also available in non side-shift versions.

MAINTENANCE
To ensure a long life, keg clamps should undergo regular maintenance, at least once a year. Key factors relating to servicing are:
• All tines should be notched to provide wear indication to ensure that tines are changed when wear becomes excessive.
• A hydraulically adjustable stabiliser arrangement is required.
• Where possible the stabiliser cylinder should be enclosed to protect against ingress, which will lead to prolonged life, but this has to be achieved without reduction in vision.
• Newer keg clamps have thicker back plates in order to meet the rigours of today's handling requirements. Strengthening bars can also be added to advance this feature even further and improve rigidity.
• Newer models have now moved onto a three bolt tine arrangement which has proved to be a superior fixing method to the older five bolt arrangement by reducing failure in the bolt drill hole area.
Keg clamps are the ultimate solution for improving product handling. They also reduce maintenance costs and ensure less shock loading to trucks as well as providing high productivity, faster switching between jobs and increasing driver confidence.

Case Study
When Coors Brewers decided to approach Linde to provide it with 158 new Linde standard 393 fork lift trucks on full maintenance contract hire, it was to B&B Attachments that Linde turned for the supply and servicing of attachments. B&B Attachments has supplied 49 Kaup keg clamps to Coors main brewery in Burton on Trent, the largest brewery in the UK, as well as the company's other sites at Tadcaster in Yorkshire and Alton in Hampshire.

The new Kaup clamps enable Coors drivers to line up the central tines into the middle of the load. The sighting slot has been expanded and the structure of the unit designed to maximise visibility. Other design features include the tine position so that they are slightly raised above floor level. This has reduced tine wear and provided a major saving in replacement costs.
“Three years prior to our signing the contract with Linde we spent £40,000 on damage to clamps and attachments”, said Rob Evans, Principal Engineering Manager at Coors Brewers. “Now, due to the new Linde trucks and Kaup attachments as well as driver training and the response time from B&B such costs have dropped 75%”.

By Geoff Hammonds
Senior Sales Consultant, B&B Attachments

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