When we introduced the NextGen iStills, one of our goals was to make our newest and latest generation of stills the best in the world. Not just in technology, but also in quality and longevity. We simply wanted to beat all of our competitors (if you can call ‘m that) on every aspect and measurement possible. Becoming the best supplier of distillation equipment doesn’t mean you excel in one area, to us it simply means we want to tick (and win) all the boxes.
How we achieved our goal
To achieve that goal, we introduced a new design philosophy that we called “2x”. The “2x” refers to the strength calculations that we use when designing and building an iStill. Ordinary still manufacturers use a “1x” model (and some not even that): they design and build a still according to the required strength.
For us, in order to overachieve on what others already brought to the market, we adopted the “2x” philosophy, meaning that we calculate required strength … and then we double that. Examples? If our calculations show that a 2 mm thick boiler gives required strength, we design and build that boiler at 4 mm. When we calculate that a certain boiler size needs a 1 hp agitator engine, we’ll design and build that unit with a 2 hp agitator engine.
Overengineering leads to increased longevity. Higher build costs, yes, that too. But it pays off tremendously, as the still triples or quadruples in longevity, where the cost price is raised by only 30%. For 30% additional costs, you get a still that will serve you (at least) three times longer.
Real world example
We have many iStills out there that have over 10,000 hours of service under their belt. All work fine, did not experience downtime or warranty issues. Underneath, let’s investigate a real life example of an iStill 2000 NextGen that’s used for on the grain distilling. Here are the stats of that real world example:
As the above iStill 2000 is used for on the grain distilling, the agitator is always on, when distilling. This unit, in other words, has been distilling for 15,501 hours. The heater banks show 13,501 hours, because heating hours are calculated on net 100% power. In other words: a slightly lower power setting of 90 or 80% translates into less total hours at 100% power input (therefore 13,501 at 100%).
This iStill has been in service for 4 years. In those 4 years it has been in operation for an amazing 15,501 hours. This equates to 3,875 hours annually or 80 hours per week. Put differently: this unit has been distilling double shifts for 5 to 6 days per week for 4 years. It has been in (close to) continuous operation, without any machine induced downtime or warranty issues. It has basically been “ON” for 4 years.
For comparison’s sake: a regular craft distiller uses his still for about 12 hours per week, on average. So for this “average craft distiller” scenario, doing much less hours than the distillery in the above example, the run hours of this iStill exceed over 25 years of service!
In its 4 years of almost continuous operation, the iStill worked flawlessly. And it did so in a harsh and hot environment with a distilling team that was willing to push the iStill to its limits. How we know? Well, not just because of the semi-continuous operation and the location where this distillery is set-up, but also because of the other numbers in the above picture.
In the past 4 years, the iStill has triggered an overtemperature alarm twice, signaling that the (non-iStill) chiller system they use might be undersized. Also, they forgot to put on the chiller in 121 (!) occasions, signaling they don’t really care for the machine, but that it’s just “pedal to the metal and don’t look left or right at intersections”. Luckily the iStill does that for them.
The message? This is not a “walk in the park”-scenario. This is a worst-case scenario, where the unit is abused on 123 occasions. Abused to the extend of maltreatment. Still, the unit works. Works, and warns, and intervenes when warnings aren’t followed up. Now, that adds a bit of drama to the mix, doesn’t it? Over 15,500 hours in under 4 years in an warm and abusive environment …
To sumarize …
Where iStill stands for? What this iStill user case shows the craft distilling industry? The above post and example make it perfectly clear. Longevity as in that we design your iStill to deliver for decades. Even in the harshest of environments.
Longevity and safety, in the most compact, controlled, versatile, and energy-efficient still in the world. That’s what we are all about. Now, how’s that for empowering the craft distilling industry? How’s that for us creating the tools you need in order to excel, not just tomorrow or the day after, but in decades to come?