While there is an operating cost associated with the SURF system, this is relatively small and the benefits are very significant. Besides the water, energy, chemical and labour savings the start-up microbrewer can spread the SURF liner purchases to match production growth and avoid the under-utilisation of expensive equipment. Spreading this cost over the start-up period helps to reduce the financial stress that can otherwise cripple the developing microbrewery.
In the absence of a sugar daddy/mommy the majority of start-up microbrewers strive to minimize capital costs (CapEx) as there is no end of equipment and instrumentation which needs to be purchased. Bank loans, private funds or a mix of both are used to purchase equipment with some funds left as contingency. Minimising operating costs (OpEx) is also critical, it’s a scary fact that approximately 50% of all start-up businesses fail within 12 months due to cash flow issues. Financing loans with limited revenue is extremely stressful. New business owners are full of optimism and believe in their product with a real passion. Unfortunately, this optimism often leads to an over-estimation of revenue. Successful microbrewers achieve that balance of producing great beer while also carefully managing operating costs and loan financing especially in the early days when market penetration is slow. There are notable exceptions but a figure of five years is often stated as the time required to establish a business. In that time expensive process equipment will be significantly under utilised but the equipment sill adds to the cost of goods (COGS). The SURF system offers the benefit of limiting the purchase of the liners to match production plans.
While the SURF system helps to significantly reduce the CapEx there is an OpEx cost that can’t be ignored. €42.50 for a 1000L batch is not significant, less than €0.0425/L beer, but all operating costs add up. However, this cost is offset by the savings in water, heating, chemical and labour costs. “Value added” work is all work that earns money for a business, so in the brewery this work is the production of the beer