Alberta Made

Edmonton Supply Rotation

After we finished up our time in St. Louis we split off into two groups of four for our supply rotation! Rohit, Phil, Paige and I headed off to the Edmonton brewery while Sam, JP, Mathieu and Liz headed to the London brewery.

Our first week in Edmonton was a busy one. For the first couple of days we went through safety training. This included WHMIS training, a walk through of the can and bottle lines and quality training to name a few things. Once we finished up with our safety training we had the opportunity to join the brewing team on a visit to the brewery in Creston, BC and one of the largest hop farms in North America just south of the border in Idaho. At the hop farm we learned how hops are grown, picked and then packaged to be sent to be processed into the pelletized version of hops that are used in the brewing process. This was a great opportunity to see how ABI has vertically integrated aspects of its supply chain to reduce costs.

Hop Farm Tour

We returned to Edmonton for week 2, where we went through a week of learning about all of the departments in the brewery. We spent time working on the can and bottle lines to learn first hand the duties of the operators in the brewery. My personal favourite was working at the station called the Daisy. This operator is in charge of the Omni (which removes bottles from the line that are damaged or unclean), the filler and labeler. There’s a whole lot going on here which means you’re constantly moving and keeping track of a variety of things to ensure the line is always running! In addition to working on the line we spent time in logistics and brewing. In logistics we learned about the complexity of ensuring that the brewery always has the necessary materials on hand. Edmonton has a very small warehousing space which means there is little room for error in scheduling shipments and deliveries. Finally, we learned about the entire brewing process from the raw material inputs all the way through to final storage in is called the bright beer tank. The brewing process is complex and unique to each beer, and it is essential that it is done the exact same way every time to ensure a consistent and quality product.

Inside the Edmonton Brewery Utilities Area

One of the potential first roles out of the GMT program is working in the brewery as a front line manager (FLM). To get first hand experience we spent 2 weeks shadowing the FLM’s in the Edmonton brewery, this included a week of night shifts which contrary to what you might think are actually pretty fun! As an FLM you are in charge of the lines on a shift to shift basis, helping to clear up any issues and work with operators to ensure they have everything they need.

Over the final two weeks of our supply rotation we focused on our supply projects. These projects are a great chance to focus in on a specific problem in the brewery, work on developing solutions that will have a real long-term impact on the brewery and present these projects to senior leaders at Labatt. My supply project was to identify a method to track and limit the amount of loss that occurs on the packaging lines. To do so I worked closely with the operations manager, line managers and the brewmaster to implement a solution that would enable the brewery to track losses in as close to real time as possible.

In addition to working in the brewery our Edmonton crew had a ton of fun, taking advantage of being in a new city and exploring. We were able to travel through the rockies twice, including spending a weekend in Banff. We explored Edmonton and went to the West Edmonton Mall, an Oilers game and some great restaurants. Finally, we had some fun with the Edmonton brewery crew on the weekends, some of our favourite spots were MKT, Hudson’s and the Funky Bhudda!