Case Study Overview
Sheppy's Cider produce over 2 million litres of cider a year and have won over 200 awards. David's kegging aims were ...
- Increase keg filling output to 40 kegs per hour
- Clean and fill kegs
- Turn kegs the right way up after filling
We supplied, installed and commissioned an Malek keg filling and cleaning line.
The Sheppy family have been making cider for over 200 years and the awards they have won exceed this number, so the accolade of ‘craftsmen cidermakers’ is well earned. Awards include gold in CAMRA’s National Cider & Perry Awards for their Medium Draft and silver in The International Cider Awards for their Somerset Draught.
‘Quality’ is the ethos behind Sheppy’s Cider, which is owned and run by David and Louisa Sheppy. Of the 2,000,000+ litres of cider currently produced, 50% of the apples used are grown in orchards on David and Louisa’s farm, and the remainder are carefully selected from local farmers that they know. 30 different apple varieties are carefully selected to create the 15 different ciders which they craft, ranging from draft to sparkling, single varietals to blends, and a Soil Association certified organic cider. Fermentation is achieved through the natural yeasts in the skins of the apples, as opposed to added yeasts and no artificial sweeteners are used. Sheppy’s award winning cider is supplied in bottles, polyboxes and kegs.
To meet a growing demand for kegged product, Sheppy’s needed to increase their keg filling output. The kegging equipment they were using consisted of a keg washer, with a capacity of 20 kegs per hour, and a keg filling head. The process was quite labour intensive: kegs required lifting on and off the keg washer, and the filling head needed to be connected to, and disconnected from, the keg by hand. Filling output was at around 20 kegs per hour.
David Sheppy approached Vigo with a requirement for an automatic line to clean and fill kegs at a rate of 40 kegs per hour. He also required the kegs to be steam cleaned, rinsed between each washing cycle, and turned the right way up after filling.
Vigo supplied Sheppy’s with a Malek kegging line consisting of a MB KEG-SET-NG automatic keg cleaning and filling machine equipped with 3 cleaning stations and 1 filling head. Installation and commissioning was carried out by Vigo engineers. The line runs at 35 kegs per hour, with the option to add an additional module at a later date to increase throughput to 60 kegs per hour.
The machine is operated by a Siemens control panel and includes a touch-screen display. Malek’s patented cleaning process ensures a high flow rate with more swirls, creating a whirlpool effect in the keg, for the effective cleaning of even stubborn stains. An inductive flow meter controls the filling level, keg opening monitoring functions are present on all stations to detect blocked keg valves or pneumatic issues, and there are temperature and pressure control devices for both cleaning and filling. Additional features included steam cleaning, a dosing unit for cleaning detergents, a post-fill keg weighing unit, and a keg slider for lowering kegs back down to pallet height.
'We chose to use Vigo for this project as they always offer an excellent service, listen carefully to our requirements, and are competitive, not to mention being on our doorstep.
After the obvious initial niggling problems following installation, we have been delighted with the performance of the kegging line, and how easy it is to operate. As our kegs sales continue to grow each year, this line enables us to keep up with the growing demand, especially as output can be increased to 60 kegs an hour if required in the future.
The quality of the product has also been excellent with a more consistent carbonation level than our previous line.
It has also opened up other opportunities such as offering a contract kegging service to other cider makers, and we have seen an increase in demand for this service as well.'
David Sheppy, Sheppy's Cider