Andrea May Gets Jackalope Ready for Summer
NASHVILLE, TENN. — Andrea May, Packaging Line Manager at Jackalope Brewing Co., figures she spends 10–15 hours per week doing preventive maintenance on their ProFill 90S. That entails thoroughly cleaning the parts and keeping everything lubricated and properly adjusted. It’s a lot of time to have one person tied up, but as a result, the line runs efficiently and smoothly.
“She’s really turned it into the flagship that they needed it to be,” says Dave Nappier, ProBrew general manager.That’s important, because Jackalope is beginning to add the 16 oz. can format, and while switching between the two is not especially difficult, you still have to understand the machine and how it fits into the rest of your production line. “If it’s not a machine issue, it can be an issue with the temperature of the beer,” she says, describing something she had to learn on the job.
Currently, they only plan to put their year-round Bearwalker Brown Ale and some specialty beers into the 16 oz. format and see how that goes over in the markets where they see the most potential, possibly following with some Jackalope specialty beers.
“A lot of music venues here only do 16 oz. cans,” May explains, “and Kroger, our main grocery store customer, was really pushing for 16 oz. cans as well.”
Eventually, they expect they will put special release beers in 16 oz. cans, too.
Why Engineers Love Andrea May
May only recently took over the canning line at Jackalope. Before that she stayed home with her two sons, and before that she spent 10 years working as a nurse.
She started out at Jackalope working in the tap room and special events, but she showed a knack for mechanical things, and that led her to the production facility (called “The Ranch”).
Seeing as she was new to the industry, that front-to-back experience gave her a quick education in how beer is made and consumed. But it was her own curiosity and dedication to excellence that helped her turn the ProFill 90S canning line into the packaging powerhouse it was designed for.
“We were running around 45 cpm [when I took over], but now I average about 90 cpm,” May says, “so now we can definitely put more beer in cans. I’m doing 165–170 cases per hour, so we’ll be canning more in 2020 than we did in 2019.”
From Nappier’s point of view, May has made the right moves to optimize their ProFill line, and it’s why ProBrew engineers love to work with her. To begin with, she has studied the machine and the manual to get to know it inside and out. When ProBrew techs have come down, she has asked them lots of questions in order to get to know it even better.
“She’s superior with the mechanical side of it. She picks up on everything super fast, Nappier reports, adding that “She’s very diligent on the maintenance side of things. She takes it upon herself to keep that machine lubricated and spotless.”
“Preventive maintenance is extremely important,” May insists. “If you don’t know how to maintain your machine, it’s going to fail on you. It’s could happen in the middle of a run and you have to shut down and figure out what happened, and you really don’t want that.”
May also knows when to contact ProBrew for support versus tinkering with parts she may not fully understand. The ProBrew team appreciates that she sends them pictures or videos of where she notices issues, and that helps them to more accurately diagnose what’s going on.
“A lot we’ve been able to fix remotely through emails and texts because they are usually just minor adjustments and she is getting more familiar with the system every day,” says Nappier.
Making the Switch to 16 Ounces
The ProFill is designed to easily switch back and forth between 12 oz. and 16 oz. cans (it can also accommodate sleek cans, but the changeover is more complicated). However, there are still some manual operations involved such as raising the seamer and filler bowl.
ProBrew came out to walk her through the operation. She raised the machine, ran a couple cases of 16 oz. cans, and then lowered it back for 12 oz. operation.
“Initially, if I’m doing it by myself it will take anywhere from one and a half to two hours just because I have no muscle memory on that,” May explains. “The quicker I get, I’ll be able to do it the morning of our canning run.”
Currently they can a couple times a week. As summer comes around, they will get up to four days a week, at which point it will become more important to know when they’ll be doing the 16 oz. cans so they can schedule those days back to back.
But May isn’t worried. As much as Nappier and company sing her praises, she stays modest and attributes a lot of her success to simply doing the work: “Honestly, it’s not hard. It’s an easy machine to take care of. It’s just being consistent.”
Plus, ProBrew has made some amazing new training and how-to videos for most of the ProFill SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures).
“ProBrew has done a really great job teaching me what I need to know to operate the line efficiently and reliably,” says May.