Shiner Bock is the flagship product of specialty brewer The Gambrinus Co. Other prominent Gambrinus brands include Pete’s Wicked Ale, India Pale Ale and Trumer Pils.
Ever since Gambrinus settled on laser technology for its coding needs, it has depended on Industrial Dynamics/filtec (IDC). Lasetec laser coders from IDC have been in the main Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, for two years; the Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley, Calif., for three years, and the BridgePort Brewery in Portland, Ore., for four.
“The care and feeding of an ink jet printer is more, certainly, than a laser,” says Jaime Juardo, director of brewing operations. “You have to use solvents to clean them, and it takes time. Even with the automated systems, you’ve still got to feed them.”
Another consideration was aesthetics; the coding looks good etched onto a glass bottle. The amber bottles, that is. On the green bottles used by the California facility, the coding stood out a little too much, so they decided to code the label instead.
Once they settled on lasers, Gambrinus had to decide on a supplier.
“We want a company that has earned the reputation to service its machines and be there and have experience to specify the right machine,” Juardo says. “And we felt very comfortable with [IDC]. This is a new technology for us, and we aren’t stupid. We know that there are other vendors out there.”
One vendor tried to make the case that his company builds its own lasers, while IDC buys lasers from another supplier. But Juardo and others at Gambrinus found that unpersuasive.
“To us, it didn’t matter,” he says. “It has the Industrial Dynamics name on it. If they make a decision to go to a third party to provide a laser, it is of no consequence to us, because it’s their name on the entire package.”
The IDC name is a positive for Gambrinus because they have been using the company’s filtec fill-level checking systems for a long time. Gambrinus also has plans to bring in another IDC system, making the laser coders part of an ongoing relationship between the two companies.
Lasetec coders feature durable, two-axis beam-steered, sealed lasers. Visible alignment beams optimize focus on the package, and the code can be projected on the package for positioning in calibrate mode. They also feature package-by-package code verification.