Of AB InBev's 200+ breweries worldwide, none are quite like the one in Wenzhou, China. Opened in December, the $224 million site combines smart technology and sustainability throughout its 333,333 m2 footprint. By year's end the Wenzhou brewery will produce nearly two million hectoliters (hl) - about a third of its six million hl capacity - including Budweiser, Harbin, Shuanglu, Yandangshan and other local beer brands.
The brewery represents the largest single-unit foreign investment in the Wenzhou Economic Development Zone and affirms AB InBev's confidence in the fast-growing market in China, says Jan Craps, Co-Chair and CEO of Budweiser Asia Pacific (APAC).
“We are looking ahead to the future and to bettering our local communities with innovative, sustainable development,” he says. “Together we are brewing a thriving, new chapter for Budweiser China and Wenzhou.”
The brewery was designed with the AB InBev's sustainability goals in mind, particularly those around achieving 100% purchased electricity from renewable sources, and improving water efficiency and quality.
It is powered by an integrated green supply system with wind, solar and battery energy storage, and forklifts at its logistics center use energy-efficient lithium batteries. It also is outfitted with a world-leading, environmentally friendly membrane filtration technology system that produces less waste. Brewing processes were also optimized to minimize water usage and make it possible for leftover purified water to be offered to local communities facing drought or water shortages.
From brewing to packaging and logistics, the Wenzhou site relies on industry-leading, integrated smart technology. Employees use mobile devices to remotely control many aspects of the brewing operation which is managed from a single, high-tech digital control room. Artificial intelligence systems help ensure high-quality, efficient production by helping teams quickly detect equipment changes and identify preventive maintenance needs.
“As the world's leading brewer AB InBev is investing in a smart, high-quality brewing ecosystem to further grow the beer industry in China and around the world,” says Y.J. Cheng, Chief Supply & Logistics Officer – Budweiser APAC. “Our Wenzhou brewery is a great example of how we are digitally transforming our operations for a more sustainable future by increasing efficiencies and reducing energy and water consumption.”
With the new brewery comes other benefits to the community. The development supports the local government's initiative to develop ‘beauty in nature, economy, city and townships, life, and culture' in Wenzhou. Budweiser APAC will also establish its 28th ‘Hope School' as part of its long-standing commitment to advance education in every community where a new brewery is opened.
And there's more industry-leading development to come. Later this year, a new 5,530 m2 warehouse will be opened in Wenzhou. It will be AB InBev's first fully automated and integrated warehouse and provide more than 5,500 square meters of vertical and floor storage. Set to open in late 2021, its innovative, space-saving design creates nearly double the storage capacity of conventional warehouses, with room for nearly 18,000 pallets.