ST. CLAIR TWP. — MillerCoors Trenton Brewery will be undergoing several changes this year to streamline its process, save money and improve safety.
Jon Hussey, the brewery’s interim vice president, said the facility is scheduled to see $25 million in capital improvements this year.
“The most significant portions of that are what we call a box shop,” Hussey said. “We’re going to begin to manufacture the cardboard boxes on site to hold our glass bottles.
“We would previously buy those cardboard cases prefabricated then fill them with bottles at the brewery.”
That will generate “significant cost savings” in terms of manpower and shipping, Hussey said.
“It also is a huge sustainability initiative because we’re going to greatly reduce the amount of fuel it takes to bring … the glass and containers into the brewery.”
Production is slated to start toward the end of the year.
The brewery is constantly increasing the amount of draft beer that it produces and a $4.5 million investment next month will help increase draft filtration capacity, Hussey said.
“It gives the company as a whole better flexibility on where they can move draft product lines,” he said. “When I say draft, I’m not talking about specifically keg volume. I’m talking about products that are not pasteurized, so that’s all of our Coors product portfolio, our MGD, our Miller64 and anything that we flash pasteurize goes through that process as well.”
In a 2010 interview, Hussey said his most important goal was to improve the safety record by changing the way employees think about safety, with the aim of an injury-free workplace.
“Last year was actually the safest year in the history of the brewery,” he said. “We’re extremely proud of that.”
The brewery improved by 33 percent in all three key safety indices when comparing 2011 to 2010.
MillerCoors continues efforts to improve its safety culture, Hussey said.
“We’ve put in measures to allow our employees to be much more proactive about reporting what we call safe catches, which is, let’s identify something before someone gets hurt and fix it versus waiting for someone to get hurt.”
Through its grassroots team, the brewery has produced a number of videos for employees to help emphasize the importance of safety, including one video on proper eye protection.
The brewery also installed orange seat belts on all fork trucks to make it easier to see that workers have the belts properly fastened.
“The ultimate goal is that everyone is thinking about safety first before anything else and we can certainly see that happening,” Hussey said.
As any facility gets better and better at safety, it becomes increasingly difficult to improve upon its current level, Hussey said.
“That’s why we’re so excited about the safety culture work, because I think it’s helping us to really approach those world class levels of safety performance.”
MillerCoors’ Trenton Brewery is an 111-acre facility that provides jobs for 550 employees. It is the largest in Ohio, the second largest producer for MillerCoors and has the capacity to brew 11 million barrels of beer a year.
The company’s production remained the same in 2011 as 2010, Hussey said.
The brewery now produces 65 different brands, including Molson Golden and Molson Ice, which it started producing in 2011.
“We may grow to introduce two new (Molson Coors) brands this year,” Hussey said.