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Introducing Frank Jr Shepherd Neame's New Robot

Independent family brewer and pub company Shepherd Neame has invested in a new state-of-the-art industrial robot to improve its packaging capabilities.

The Faversham-based brewery has been using an automated industrial robot on its keg-filling line for the past 20 years. It removes empty 50l and 30l kegs from pallets and places them on a conveyor, where they travel to undergo a cleaning process and are refilled, before the robot then palletises them again ready for loading and delivery.

Chief Engineer Mark Bowes said:

“When we installed the robot, we named it ‘Frank’ after former longstanding team member Frank Rush, who used to move and stack the cask and kegs back in the day.”

After more than two decades of service, however, Frank’s operating system had become outdated, so Shepherd Neame decided to invest in an upgraded version. It is the first phase in a £400,000 programme of investment that the brewery has planned for its keg plant over the coming year. In addition to boasting a state-of-the-art operating system, the new robot, provided by German company KUKA, is faster, consumes less energy and is easier to maintain.

It was delivered and Shepherd Neame’s production team undertook installation and extensive testing before it began full operations.

Director of Brewing Mike Unsworth said:

“When we decided to replace Frank with a newer model, it seemed apt to continue the tradition by calling the new robot Frank Jr.! He can process up to 2,000 kegs in one day, and will help ensure we are able to meet demand for our keg beers in the most efficient way possible.”


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