Beyond the Bar

Bracton Industries

The Bracton Group comprises four distinct companies: Bracton Industries, which produces a line of beer line cleaners and associated products used extensively in the nation’s hospitality industry; Bracton Beverage Systems, which manufactures and represents world-leading beer dispensing equipment; SoSafe Specialty Products, which supplies the government, mining, engineering, education, retail and contracting sectors with diverse industrial chemicals; and Dosatron Australia, which distributes non electric dispense equipment for agriculture, printing, hospitality, mining and fire fighting applications.

“Bracton’s beginnings were very humble,” explains company Manager Joel Hunter. “We’ve always had a very strong and loyal customer base, and what we’ve tried to do over the years is introduce innovative new products that are designed to give the venues the best results.”

Wholly Australian owned and operated by the Hunter family, Bracton has been behind a number of key innovations within the industry. In addition to its eye toward innovation, Bracton also maintains a strong focus on health and safety, quality, and the environment. In 1998, the company effectively revolutionised the way draught beer lines were cleaned in Australia, introducing water driven proportional dosing equipment, which eliminated the need to handle the corrosive chemicals used in the cleaning processes without the occupational health and safety issues introduced by previous methods. Still widely regarded as the safest method of cleaning beer lines, Bracton’s system has been taken up by an estimated 35 per cent of Australian venues serving draught beer.

This development was followed by an innovative glass washing machine, which improved the cleanliness of glassware and utilised a non-hazardous detergent that was even safe for hand washing. The glass washers were unique, introducing water saving devices that make use of a recirculation wash tank, which uses three times less water than conventional machines that would just wash and dump. “With some of these changes that we have made,” says Joel, “we were actually able to make it so that these machines now have onboard soak cycles which can save any public venue a lot of time each week. Instead of having to hand scrub, they are able to automate the process with a machine.”

The company came a long way rather quickly, and it’s never been afraid to take risks. In 2004, Bracton purchased a company called Allied Beer Dispensing Equipment from administration. Even though the company had been taken over by brand new management, the reputation couldn’t be saved and it was dissolved and integrated directly into the Bracton Group. “We purchased Allied back in 2004 and subsequently we’ve been rebuilding the company from the ground up,” explains Joel. Presently the company is now one of the top three equipment suppliers nationally, enjoying contracts with major breweries.

In 2010, Bracton joined forces with the UKs’ BevEx to introduce the most advanced beverage python ever seen in Australia. The Python is an insulated cluster of tubing that maintains the temperature of the beverage as it travels from cellar to tap, significantly reducing the beer systems’ energy consumption. According to Joel, the new Energy Plus BevEx Python is one of Bracton’s greatest achievements to date. Featuring an unparalleled reduction in heat loss of over 12.8 per cent over standard python, this new endeavour paved the way for further opportunity, but required a great deal of investment.

“This was a substantial investment for our company,” explains Joel. “The new equipment required a new premise, extensive mezzanine systems, pallet racking, hundreds of thousands of dollars in raw stock alone in addition to well over a quarter of a million dollars in capital equipment.” Bracton is the manufacturer and distributor of BevEx python throughout the entire Asia Pacific Region.

Another feather in Bracton’s cap is its status as an Exclusive distributor of Perlick beer taps – among the most revolutionary taps in the world. “… we’ve always had a strong focus on cleaning, we look at the system design for all the products, even as far as seals and threads to try and make sure that there are no areas that anything such as old liquid or cleaning fluid can get trapped in, and we verify that it is easy to clean. In order for something to be hygienic it has to be able to be cleaned,” says Joel.

“In the past, these systems required constant disassembly and cleaning. There are so many taps out there that are so dirty that I wouldn’t want to drink out of them. The problem is, within the design there are dead end sections where beer may pass through but cleaning fluids do not. What we’ve tried to do is eliminate those dead ends and make sure that if beer can flow through an area, cleaning solution can flow there too.”

The Perlick taps are unique in this respect because they don’t feature a traditional piston design, where beer could get trapped past seals that allow it to be exposed to open air. Beer, when mixed with open air can invite bacteria and even mould growth that can cause illness if ingested. “Often when you take an old style tap apart to clean it, you’ll find black spots of mould,” says Joel. “When you take a Perlick tap apart to clean it, you’ll never find any sort of mould. They have essentially simplified it; there are fewer parts which has allowed the price of the taps to drop dramatically as well.” The Perlick line of taps is in fact very affordable for end users – not just for the initial tap outlay but because the labour involved in the cleaning process has been greatly simplified.

“What we aim to do,” says Joel, “is try to design a system that gives the best performance, while integrating hygiene, serviceability and backwards compatibility. We look for new products on the market that give a distinct advantage to the installer and the end user. This allows draught products to be served as the manufacturer intended.”

Bracton isn’t just about draught beer; post-mix product dispensing is also a big part of the business. The company’s focus on compatibility makes it a good fit for integration into broader systems, and its products are even likely to work with numerous other brands and with older machines.

For example, back in 2007, Joel redesigned a new type of fitting that the company has dubbed the ‘B-Lock.’ This product used to have a tendency to leak when disconnected, but the new version is revamped so that it no longer leaks. The product is also compatible with any machine on the market, which removes the need to replace a whole system just because of one faulty part.

“We don’t want to force a venue to buy one particular brand,” says Joel. “Any beverage dispensing system can be comprised of many different brands of parts; customers should be able to use a part based on how it functions, not just because it’s the only one that fits.”

Not to rest on its laurels, 2012 was another big year for Bracton, wherein the company became a new local distributor for post-mix, which integrates perfectly into its existing portfolio. “This allowed us to expand the post-mix side of beverage dispensing,” explains Joel. “It gave us access to a variety of coolers and post-mix towers.” said Joel. The same year, Bracton was able to pick up another distributorship, this time for Brewfitt, enabling the company to supply a new range of exciting innovative cooling technologies and in-line heat exchangers which allow sub-zero temperatures to run through ice bank systems.

Bracton has taken huge leaps and bounds since entering the market, and the plan going forward is for the company to distribute its new and innovative products to a national market. It’s a simple strategy: Bracton will continue to provide great products along with honesty, integrity and trust.

“We are passionate about what we do,” concludes Joel. “We enjoy the customer relationships that we have and we genuinely have their best interest at heart. That’s something that we feel really makes the difference between good customer support and great customer support – no one can ever say that we didn’t do our very, very best.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

July 19, 2018, 7:46 PM AEST