Summer 2018 is almost in the books and even more fans of your craft beer came out to find you.That's great news!
If you want another explosive year in 2018-2019 you should start planning for that extra capacity now, so the equipment you need will be in place, on time and ready to brew. Expanding a brewhouse or even building individual tanks requires a lot of upfront thinking, design work, and communication before welding equipment is ever fired up. Be wary of manufacturers that promise unrealistic lead times.
To carefully craft all the unique equipment pieces you need, it can take 4-8 months for a cellar expansion and 6-12 months for a brewhouse expansion, as it did for this custom 50 BBL Brewhouse we built. Watch it go up in about 1 minute on this timelapse:
So yes, really, it's not too early to start planning and working with your manufacturer to get the equipment you need in the queue.
Stage 1: The Quoting Process
Your first steps are with your sales rep. They take your vision and work with designers to think about the aesthetics, the functionality, ease-of-use, your production goals, and the quality you need. This budgetary quote work typically lasts 5-6 weeks.
Once a budgetary quote is defined, it is sent to you for review. Then, through a collaborative process with your equipment partner, you will likely work through changes and edits. Basic floor plans may be drawn up for an expanded scope project. Also, you may want to refine the scope and dial in the work based on a price point you need to hit. Often a lot of questions arise during this period and you may choose some customization options on your equipment depending on the answers. This is your time to make sure the design and build of your equipment is exactly what you need. Depending on the complexity of your scope and the changes you request, allow anywhere from 2 weeks to 5 months to reach the final quote number.
Stage 2: Design
Once you approve the quote and send in a purchase order, the designers will firm up the drawings based on your input and pass it to the brewery engineers. The engineers do their due diligence to make sure every connection, every heat transfer panel and every valve is where it should be, to integrate easily into your new facility or your current system. Engineering's primary job is to make sure the correctness and the safety of your equipment is on the mark, you don't want to rush this process. Allow 5-10 weeks for engineering work.
Stage 3: Procurement
The next step is materials procurement. The length of this step depends on several design factors like the vessels’ pressure ratings and services, component selections and customizations made during scope development as well as the supply chain vendors’ current capacities and lead times. Allow 5-8 weeks for procurement of most major materials. Some specialty items, like a precision-milled false bottom for a lauter tun, can take up to 18 weeks to build.
Stage 4: Fabrication
After the materials arrive, your equipment goes into production. The build begins! Your equipment manufacturer is thinking about secure welds, heat transfer placement, cleaning systems and pressure testing among a whole host of other considerations. Depending on the size and specifications of your equipment, the build process can take 6-12 weeks.
Stage 5: Delivery and Installation
Delivery, installation and startup come next. Safe offloading, piping, connections, water and electric hookups - there's plenty involved in these steps. One time saving and risk-reducing option is to have your equipment vendor perform these 3 services. Whether it's one tank or a whole brewery, allot anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks for this part of the process to be finished.
The final consideration and it's a biggie, is the production calendar for your favorite equipment manufacturer. If you think their equipment is good, others likely do too! And the equipment manufacturer can't schedule you for production until you make the decision to move forward on the project and send in the purchase order.
So as you can see on the timeline below, on the low end a small cellar expansion can last anywhere from 16-32 weeks from order entry to shipping and on the high end for a complete custom brewhouse from 6-18 months from order entry to shipping:
Click to enlarge
Don't leave money on the table because you couldn't keep up with the demand for your great brews. Start planning now for your 2019 and yes, your 2020 capacity. By waiting, you could end up in a time crunch and that can cost you. Proper planning now helps you avoid that crunch and has you brewing beer on your timeline, so the revenues continue to pour in as well.