Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MADE IN JAX; Beer Cans a Booming Business $175 Million Expansion to Add 75 Jobs at AB InBev-Owned Westside Plant

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MADE IN JAX; Beer Cans a Booming Business $175 Million Expansion to Add 75 Jobs at AB InBev-Owned Westside Plant

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Bull

What happens at the Metal Container Corp. on the Westside is really pretty simple. Big rolls of aluminum come in, billions of aluminum cans go out.

Most of those cans are trucked about 20 minutes northeast to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery on the Northside. The plant has been turning out the cans since 1974 when the brewery opened it as its first can manufacturing plant in the country, said Bryan Sullivan, the plant manager.

It's owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev now, the world's largest brewery. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, producing more than 3 billion cans a year.

That's about to change. The plant will hold an official groundbreaking Thursday for a $175 million expansion that will add 75 jobs in addition to the 200 people who already work there.

What that's going to add is a line to make increasingly popular aluminum bottles to fill with Anheuser-Busch's beer. The brewery wouldn't say how many of the bottles it's selling, only that it sold 30 percent more in 2015 than it did the year before.

The A-B brewery in Jacksonville doesn't fill those metal bottles now, but it does fill about 50 million cans and glass bottles each week. The bottles are made elsewhere, but all those cans come from the plant off Commonwealth Avenue.

It's a big, noisy place filled with long rows of machines that turn those 25,000-pound rolls of aluminum into cans. Connecting all those machines are long conveyor systems where cans are pushed by air from one station to the next to the next.

They fly by, too fast to read, only recognizable by their color: blue for Bud Light, red for Bud, black for Monster Energy or green for Mountain Dew.

Only two-thirds of the cans go to the brewery. The rest are made for other customers, to be filled with Pepsi products or Monster.

The steps are basically this:

Three lines are for 12-ounce cans, one is for 16-ounce cans. Big machines stamp out what the company calls cups, 12 at a time. They're just a couple of inches tall, and wider than the finished can.

A second machine then stamps those cups into the size and shape of full cans. …

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