In May 2010, Grupo Modelo opened the first phase of a beer brewery and bottling plant in the Nava municipality in the Mexican state of Coahuila.

Named as Compania Cervecera de Coahuila, the brewery is located about 21km away from Piedras Negras. It is the eighth brewery of Grupo Modelo in Mexico.

The project is being completed in three phases. The first phase of construction was started in November 2007 and completed in September 2010. The first brewline was officially inaugurated at the end of 2010.

The second brewline was put in to operation in January 2011. The estimated investment for the mega brewery construction was $600m in phase I. It employs about 600 people.

When all the three phases are completed, it will be the world’s largest brewery of its kind. The total workforce will also be increased to about 2,000.

Grupo Modelo is the sixth largest brewer in the world. The company brews 13 varieties of beer and supplies more than 170 countries. The brewer is investing MXP 4bn ($343m) to expand its distribution network by setting-up convenience stores and modernising its plants.

Capacity and expansion of Grupo Modelo’s Piedras Negras brewery

“Grupo Modelo is the sixth largest brewer in the world, with 13 varieties of beer.”

The first phase of the Piedras Negras brewery has a production capacity of ten million hectolitres (hl) (one billion litres) per annum.

The plant currently produces Corona, Corona Light, Negra Modelo and Modelo Especial brands.

The second phase will increase the plant’s capacity to 20 million hl of beer. The expansion is planned for completion in 2012. When the third phase is completed, the production capacity will reach 30 million hl.

It is planned for completion in 2013. These two phases will add three new brands each. The production will be exported to European and North American markets.

Site choice

The Nava beer manufacturing and bottling plant is located on highway 57 in the midst of the Piedras Negras and Nava cities. The greenfield facility occupies 334ha area.

The site was chosen due to the availability of good quality water and proximity to the largest beer markets in the US. Presence of good road and power infrastructure was also a reason for choosing the site.

Brewery design features

The brewery is a three-story brewhouse with large metal silos, about 1.6km of conveyors and four pasteurisers. The facility consists of two brewhouses with malt intake, vacuum evaporation and energy recovery systems, 70 cylindro-conical fermentation and storage tanks, seven CIP stations, a yeast cellar with 16 tanks and continuous microfiltration (CMF), 30 pressure tanks and three filtration lines with 1,200hl/h capacity each, and a Siemens PCS 7 V7.0 automated process control system.

The two brewlines produce 12 batches each a day (24 batches per day in total). It houses 15.2m diameter lauter tuns, the largest of their kind in the world.

A 60km pipeline (DN 800) has been built connecting the brewery and a mountain aquifer supplying about 20 million m³ of water per annum. A wastewater treatment plant is also constructed at the site.

The equipment and installations at the plant are tailored to allow future expansions to 20 million hl and 30 million hl capacity without interrupting the production process.

Processing ingredients

The brewery uses rice, barley malt and corn grits to produce beer. The feedstock is transported by trains to the site and unloaded through rail-road spurs built at the site.

“Most of the process technologies used at the plant were from Germany and the Americas.”

Six silos of 2,000t capacity each are available to store the raw material. Corn grits are directly transferred to two storage silos of 400t capacity each. A raw materials supply system handles the raw materials in bulk and conveys them to the brewhouse.

These raw materials flow into a collection bin and then to a mash tun.

They are then added with water and pumped to the cereal cooker of the brewhouse through a 100m long transfer pipeline.

Two brew systems consisting of mash tuns and cereal cookers are designed to efficiently use the internal heat. These heaters can also clean them automatically by CIP (clean-in-place) technology. Fermentation takes place in unitanks configured with a Modelo-specific, automated clarification and purging system and an automated turbidity monitoring. The brewery consumes less than 3hl of water for one hl of beer. The CO2 reclamation capacity of the brewhouse is about 4,000kg/h.

Plant technologies at Grupo Modelo’s brewery

Most of the process technologies used at the plant are from Germany and the Americas. The Italian company Sidel provided three bottling lines of 144,000 bottles an hour capacity and a canning line of 66,000 cans an hour capacity.

The company also installed 37 robotic machines for filling, pasteurising and cap feeding, and end of line machinery. The production and logistic automated system (PLAS) of Sidel integrates bottling lines, an ERP system, automated trolleys and the warehouse. Elettric80 built the automated trolleys with LGV laser guides.

The automated warehouse was built by System Logistics. It is equipped with digisat satellite and a systore SAP interface warehouse management system for handling the glass bottle packages. It can store about 63,000 pallets.

The high level of automation enables the Coahuila beer manufacturing and bottling plant to reduce operational costs by about 40% than the seven other breweries of Grupo Modelo.

Contractors involved with the Coahulia plant

Ziemann was the main contractor for all the design, equipment and technology supplies at the Nava facility. Siemens was responsible for the complete automation, while all of the control cabinet and the whole programming came from Ziemann.  Sidel provided the robotics and technologies for the bottling plant.

Grupo Modelo’s subsidiary Inamex de Cerveza y Malta lead the project by providing engineering, construction, machinery installation and management services.