P. Andrew Malcolm Consulting, Inc. (PAMC) logo




32 Carte Place
Pleasant Hill
CA, 95423
United States
Andy Malcolm

Bottling and Packaging Engineering for Today's Wine Industry

As production requirements grow, you may need to upgrade equipment or establish entirely new facilities. PAMC has the expertise to help.


We’ve managed projects throughout the winery, from bottling lines to crush pad and cellar installations, as well as individual focused projects such as package design execution and machine upgrades. We’re familiar with all aspects of winery facilities.


When packaging and automation needs stretch beyond the capacity or expertise of your existing engineering team, it’s important to work with a firm that brings industry experience into the project.


Here are a few of the ways some of the top names in the wine industry have taken advantage of our expertise:


  • Manage specification of high-capacity bottling line equipment. Research and vet vendors within and outside the wine industry to supply equipment that best met the customer's requirements
  • Define scope outlining all equipment, facility, and utility requirements for multi-use facility
  • Create specifications and manage installation of packaging and process equipment
  • Specify design and performance requirements for each piece of equipment on a 12,000 case per day contract bottling line
  • Identify and specify tenant improvements for an entire facility
  • Act as Owner’s Representative to developer/contractor

What does your project entail? Feel free to give us a call at 925.997-4626 to discuss your unique circumstance.



Does the Winery Equipment You're Investing In Really Fit Your Needs?

Outfitting your winery is an exciting task but browsing equipment specifications with similar descriptions and little guidance for what truly fits your needs can be daunting. New equipment selection can feel like a distraction from the art of wine making as well as from more urgent production and sales activities. It is not unusual for a winery to base equipment purchases on what worked for neighboring wineries or the recommendations of an equipment dealer. Purchasing capital equipment is a major cost and a decision that should be made carefully.

Not all capital equipment purchases are created equal. Each winery has unique circumstances based on production requirements, business organization, personnel types and skills, location, varietals, facility capabilities and more. What worked for one winery doesn’t necessarily work for all wineries. Understandably, an equipment representative is looking to fit their equipment to your needs, but have you taken the time and asked the right questions – to clearly assess your project.

For this reason, it is essential to spend time on two principal activities for a capital equipment project – framing the project and defining user requirements.

Frame Your Project

Typical questions that might be asked could include:

  1. Is this a quality improvement project?

Home in on the aspect of quality you want to improve and determine what drives it. Perhaps it is efficiency or consistency or aesthetics or process inadequacies or product flaws. Knowing what is affecting quality helps define where to focus a capital improvement project. It also allows you to prioritize any peripheral systems under consideration.

  1. Is it a capacity building project?

A capacity-building project is more than focusing on current bottlenecks; a company’s history and future goals should inform it. Of course, there are limitations. Sure, a winery may hope to increase production by 10-fold in the future but is that a realistic goal relative to the ROI for the investment. Consider a multi-phase approach.  Perhaps forecasting double or quadruple capacity in the next few years results in cash flow to a future expansion on the way to that 10-fold increase.

  1. Is it to diversify or improve a winemaking style?

Expanding and refining product offerings should not be confused with expanding capacity. They are similar but with different considerations. Adding a new product may not increase production; it adds capability and requires new skillsets. Perhaps the goal is to increase capacity and expand product offerings. That is fine if they are differentiated from each other.

Rather than a “here and now” mentality, think about these questions holistically. Looking only at a winery’s historic growth and its current operations may lead to purchasing equipment that is quickly obsolete because it doesn’t fit future needs. Consider near-term and long-term forecasts and select equipment that balances the two. The funds may not be available to fulfill every long-term plan, but it may be possible to incorporate preparations for future improvements and expansions.

Based on the answers to questions like the above, you can formulate investment objectives that drive the project forward. Clear objectives help maintain focus on goals and inform not only the project’s strategy but the company’s strategy.

User Requirements Specification

Once familiar with the reasons behind undertaking a capital improvement project, it is time to create a User Requirements Specification (URS). Dedicate adequate time early in the project to creating a URS. Although gathering requirements and preferences from multiple user groups ranging from operators to maintenance to production seems like a lengthy process, it can save money, time and headaches down the road. A URS doesn’t only list the needs and desires from users; it also builds confidence in final decision tradeoffs and provides a road map when things begin to feel like there are straying off course.

As you build the URS, it is crucial to keep in mind the original goals for the project. When asked open-ended questions, users enjoy dreaming up pie-in-the-sky concepts that creep outside of the scope of the objectives laid out earlier. Continually look at suggested requirements and ask, “Why is this necessary?”

Every capital project is different, but that doesn’t mean lessons from other projects are not translatable. A significant advantage of working with a consultant is their experience in multiple projects and even other industries. PAMC brings this experience to every project to help define the scope, build a URS and allow you to make equipment purchases that fit your growth strategy.

News Archive

Choosing Equipment Wisely for Your Winery
06 May, 2019

The purpose of a User Requirements Specification for your winery is to clearly and specifically document the requirements for the machine, system, or upgrade that you plan to buy or implement. (For our purposes, let’s call it a machine.)  The User Requirements Specification provides the project manager or engineer with her marching orders. ‘Go get us the machine to do what it says in this document.’

Project managers and engineers in large corporations and highly regulated industries know that the URS is the foundation upon which a capital project is built.  But this applies to the winemaking process as well. Done correctly, the URS specifies a machine that will repeatedly and reliable perform its role in grape and wine processing or bottling.  Equally if not more importantly, done wrong, you’re instructing your engineer to obtain a machine that is too much: too complex, too expensive, too big, or all the above.  It can be like buying a big rig to deliver pizzas. The flip side is that not scaled correctly, you may have a machine that you outgrow too quickly.

Everything costs something.  Be aware that every feature your team of users adds to the list as a ‘requirement’ is going to cost more money or more time to obtain. And, it will need to be tested to make sure it works as requested.  Is it really necessary to have frames made from stainless steel or would powder-coated mild steel meet the need?  Are servo-controlled positioners a ‘must have’ or would a couple of hand cranks work just as well?  Do you need to collect and store thirty pieces of data on every bottle the system fills, or can you narrow it down to three to five critical parameters that should be monitored?

Learning to ask ‘why?’ can be a valuable tool.  

As your team develops its list of requirements, it doesn’t hurt to politely and respectfully ask Why do we need that?’  What makes this necessary?  Is it something that the process requires or is it something that a member of the team wants because he thinks it would be cool to have?  Does it fulfill a regulatory requirement?  Does it make the machine more reliable or easier to maintain?  Is the machine still safe to operate without it?  Is it a ‘requirement’ or a nice-to-have ‘want’?

The Importance of Buy-In at the User Requirements Specification stage cannot be underestimated. 

There’s a reason more than one person signs off on a URS. Before a team member or user places a signature on the signature page, he has to be comfortable that what is written inside truly represents the requirements for the project, including his own.  One of the benefits of having a cross-departmental team involved in authoring the User Requirements Specification is the ability to synthesize thoughts and challenge the requirements on a cross-functional basis.  A good project manager will not ask for those signatures until she is confident that it contains only requirements, without the wants.

PAMC understands the importance of upgrading and / or choosing your new equipment wisely to handle the demands of your customers and your team.  Check out some of our work in the wine industry and contact us to help you with your next project.

Considering a Capital Project? Put the 'User' in User Requirements Specification.
25 April, 2019

The User Requirements Specification (or URS) is the foundation of any serious effort to buy or implement a machine, system, or upgrade.  Somebody somewhere decided that there is a need in the organization to be met.  More than likely, that decision was made while evaluating the situation from 10,000 or 30,000 feet.  They know that maintenance costs are too high, capacity is insufficient, or efficiencies are substandard. They gave someone money and authority to do something about it. Management set the project goals (cost reduction, capacity, efficiency) but that person became the Customer.


So, why is it called a User Requirements Specification?  It’s not a Management Requirements Specification or a Customer Requirements Specifications.  The purpose of the User Requirements Specification is to drill down to the next level and capture the attributes required by the Users of this new acquisition in order to meet the project goals.

This clarification begs the question:  What is a ‘User’?  A User is any person or group that is going to interact with the piece of equipment or have an interest in how it is used.  In the case of a filling machine, the most obvious user is the Production Manager or Supervisor whose people operate the bottling line.  But, does this manager or his people know the process parameters to be met?  Not necessarily.  Is it possible there is more than one User?  Yes.  Right away, we add Process Engineering (or Winemaking) to the list of Users.


What about the people who will keep the equipment running?  Do you think Maintenance should be consulted?  Absolutely.  They probably have preferences regarding the control system and other components they would like to see.  Their people are trained on particular platforms and they have spare parts in inventory.  By now you can see what we’re looking for.


Is Quality interested in how a new filling machine is going to be used?  Yes.  Quality is a User.


What about Facilities Engineering?  What type of electrical power is available and how much?  Is there enough compressed air to run the new machine?  Will it fit through the door?  (Don’t laugh.)  Better put them on the list.


And remember, If this is a winery project, be sure to involve Winemaking from the start.  They above all others will have a vested interest in how the wine is treated.


The Importance of Identifying All Your Users.  To be clear, not all of the Users need to sign off on the User Requirements Specification .  But it’s the author’s responsibility to make sure that the list of Users is complete, all of them are consulted, and their requirements considered.  Many of us have been involved in projects where one person learned of the project well after key decisions had been made.  Perhaps the order had been placed or (horror) the team was preparing to leave for the Factory Acceptance Test.  This person had a vested interest in the success of the project, but nobody had thought to consult him.  The next thing you know, everything comes to a screeching halt while the Project Team attempts to verify that the machine in question meets local safety or corporate engineering standards, or that it will accommodate a new product scheduled to launch six months after start-up.


Many times the tendency is to keep the list of those providing input to the User Requirements Specification to a minimum in order to save time and perceived complication.  Seldom is that a good idea.  Not every idea that one of your identified users comes up with has to be included, but they shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand either.  Just now you saw where EH&S, Production Planning, and Marketing should have at least been asked for input.


Now, you tell me, did I miss anyone?

PAMC is Heading to WiVi!
12 March, 2019

Heading to WiVi tomorrow; lot's to see and hear about - If you would like to meet this evening or during the show, please contact me to talk about how we can help you or your in-house engineering staff tackle your project challenges,. 

You can e-mail here or at or call 925-997-4626. Looking forward to a great event in Paso Robles! 

Complete Project Management

When an equipment purchase or production line implementation is beyond your in-house expertise, we’ll handle the whole project – on time and on budget. 

Our extensive experience in project management for Wine,

Food & Beverage companies allows us to lead projects from developing user requirements to defining scope, to implementation, startup, and validation.

Affiliations with additional experienced resources and our familiarity with equipment suppliers often allow us to execute on a project more quickly than in-house teams that are less specialized. Review some representative projects, or schedule a complimentary Engineering Project Assessment.

Deep industry and engineering expertise allow us to come up to speed quickly, immediately easing the workload on your engineering team. 


Using PAMC for engineering staff augmentation allows you to maintain the lower overhead of a smaller engineering team while knowing you can handle additional projects when demands require.

Here are just a few of the ways we may be able to help:


  • Define scopes for expansions and new facilities
  • Act as owner’s representative to contractors
  • Develop project plans for executing capital equipment projects
  • Manage purchase, installation, and start-up of custom-designed systems for bottling, packaging and processing
  • Develop best practices documentation
  • Perform efficiency studies on existing equipment and processes
  • Prepare specifications for new equipment to be purchased

Because of our experience in engineering staff augmentation in the Wine, Food & Beverage Industries, we are able to become productive members of your engineering team quickly.

Feel free to give us a call at 925-997-4626 to discuss your unique circumstance.

Project Manager for fully-automated, high capacity bottling line for WBM Top-30 winery.  Incorporated project tenants of flexibility, quality, efficiency, synchronization, and automation to identify innovative, leading edge equipment capable of running cased and bulk glass.



Project Engineer for Scope Definition phase of a greenfield, multi-use winery facility comprised of bottling, warehousing, and barrel handling operations in the Napa Valley. Developed detailed scope definition documents outlining all equipment, facility, and utility requirements for this state-of-the-art installation. Specified design and performance requirements for each piece of equipment on the 12,000 case per day contract bottling line. Identified and specified tenant improvements for the entire 150,000 s.f. facility. Acted as Owner’s Representative to developer/contractor.


Co-leader of project team that executed the complete redesign of a full line of wine packaging for a large Napa Valley winery. Responsible for equipment specification, procurement, and installation. This package earned an AmeriStar Package Award.


Project Manager and Engineer for the design and installation of a new bottling line created by combining equipment and conveyor components from three existing lines.


Production Engineer responsible for coordination and execution of multiple projects ranging in scope from package design and testing through packaging and process equipment specification, acquisition, and installation for a six-million plus case winery.


Project Engineer for winery cellar and crush pad expansion. Cooperage project added 4 million gallons of refrigerated cooperage on two sites including catwalks, wine transfer lines, and associated structures. Quintupled press capacity with the largest multiple grape press installation in the industry to that date; eight 50,000 liter bladder presses fed by a progressing cavity pump and extensive pomace discharge system.


Project Manager for installation phase of fast-track project to upgrade spirits processing facility in support of new products. Scope included adding stainless cooperage with associated pumps and instrumentation, new product transfer lines, modifications to existing piping, new RO filter, and modifications to hot water boiler system.


As Project Engineer, developed User Requirements Document for new bottling line equipment from de-casing through load building. Document clearly defined equipment requirements for a line capable of bottling full range of 750 ml package configurations including CIP-capable filler, cold glue and pressure sensitive labeling, cork and ROPP closures, label and case coding, and all conveying systems.