Ska Fabricating’s new depalletizer is easy to move and store – The Durango Herald

Microbus helps small breweries navigate the canning game

Jim Mackay, right, CEO of Ska Fabricating, and Brian Pisani, the company’s mechanical engineer, installed the “Microbus” at one of their locations in Bodo Park on Thursday. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Ska Fabricating has started distributing its new Microbus depalletizers, which can fold down to a footprint approximately the size of the pallets they were made to unload.

The Microbus can move empty aluminum cans from a pallet to a cleaning station, before being filled with beer, at a speed of 30 cans per minute.

“We take a bulk container pallet, put it in the machine, it lifts a layer, then pushes that layer onto the conveyance and eventually the filler,” said Jim Mackay, CEO of Ska Fabricating.

Designed for small breweries, when the Microbus is not in use it can be folded and easily moved to maximize the space available in a brewery.

“Microbus is our smallest and most portable machine,” Mackay said. “It’s really aimed at the lower end of the market, and price-wise, it’s really meant to be affordable for the smaller beverage maker.”

The Microbus costs about $20,000, Mackay said. He said that for most small breweries, the return on investment for the Microbus is likely between three and six months.

“Our research tells us that we should be able to move two units a week,” he said. “We’re still early in the manufacturing process and refinement, but we think it takes around 10 hours to build one of these things.”

Being a smaller machine, the Microbus is cheaper to ship and does not require a Ska Fabricating employee to travel to individual breweries to install it like other equipment, Mackay said.

“We will send installers to some of our more complex machines, but we anticipate that with this the end user will be able to configure it themselves,” he said. “That’s really the key to this machine. If they can’t afford a big machine, they probably can’t afford to bring someone in to install it.

Ska Fabricating in Durango offers innovative solutions in the canning process for breweries. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Ska Fabricating mechanical engineer Brian Pisani said that when Ska Fabricating designs new equipment, it needs to think about the type of customer it is building a product for.

“It really depends on what type of customer we’re looking at, are we looking at a customer that’s going to be running at high speed at high volume, or are we looking at a much smaller brewery,” Pisani said. “The Microbus is designed for breweries that can do it once in a while, as opposed to breweries that can do it every day.”

A big part of the design was for the Microbus to be the size of a pallet, Pisani said.

“We know they probably have pallets, and if we can build them with a footprint that size, we know they’ll have that space somewhere for storage.” he said.

The first Microbus was installed and tested for Ska Fabricating at Fenceline Cider in Mancos.

Mackay said Ska Fabricating has over 3,000 different depalletizers on the market, with the Microbus being just its latest model.

Jim Mackay, CEO of Ska Fabricating, shows how easy it is to move the “Microbus” Thursday to one of their locations in Bodo Park. The machine was designed and built by Ska Fab to depalletize bulk cans during the canning process in small breweries. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Ska Fabricating was born out of Ska Brewing Co.’s need for more specialized equipment to meet the space and production needs of the brewery.

“When the brewery decided to get into canning, around 2008, what was available on the market in terms of canning machines was big, fast, expensive and designed for the Coors of the world” , did he declare.

With the Microbus, Ska Fabricating continues founder Matt Vincent’s principle of manufacturing canning equipment designed to meet the needs of craft brewers.

“We always want to stay true to our core business, which is to provide an affordable automated solution for businesses of any size that need to depalletize,” Mackay said.

Comments are closed.