Veltins and B&R mix up the beer market
The C. & A. Veltins brewery and B&R set themselves an ambitious goal: Together, they wanted to establish the APROL process control system as a standard solution for the brewing industry, while simultaneously performing an implementation of the new system in sections of the private brewery's production facilities without interrupting production. And they wanted to do this during the World Cup - a seasonal highlight for the brewing industry. The two companies succeeded in this mammoth task thanks to their flexibility, innovative spirit and future-oriented thinking. At the same time they managed to bring the APROL process control system an important step forward. B&R now sees itself as a serious competitor for the brewing industry's traditional standard solution suppliers and looks forward to mixing up the market. Veltins is the first brewery to implement the B&R solution.
"Of course we could have chosen an existing process control solution from one of the established suppliers to modernize our systems. But we made a conscious decision to take a new approach," emphasizes Dirk Bartmann, who is responsible for process control technology at Veltins.
"We have always been convinced that a new, innovative supplier can bring new insight and stimulate fresh ideas," the Veltins expert continues. "B&R seemed to be just the right partner for this task. On the one hand, their APROL process control system was well suited to be developed into a standard solution for our industry. On the other, we found that, as a mid-sized company, B&R had the flexibility and innovative spirit it takes to handle such a daunting challenge.
Shared effort: APROL solution for breweries
These attributes were most certainly tested, as B&R was faced with not only adapting APROL to the needs of the brewing industry, but also with modernizing Veltins' fermenting and storage cellar and the neighboring processing facilities.
All in all, 50,000 image macros, more than 11,000 function diagrams and nearly 2,000 process images needed to be created. In addition, the majority of the outdated automation technology, including the control room, was to be replaced by B&R products, and the rest - mainly PROFIBUS components such as frequency inverters and other PROFIBUS equipment such as cooling controllers - was to be integrated.
A total of 25,000 hardware I/O channels were replaced with the B&R's System 2005 I/O system, and 30 stand-alone and 50 wall-mounted control cabinets were rewired and equipped with new technology, including 13 B&R System 2005 controllers. Experienced B&R system partner Actemium was brought in to help plan and implement the project, including construction and installation of the switching cabinets.
The extensive design specifications were to be implemented without hindering Veltins' operations, and only short breaks in production were available for switching connections. To make this possible, the project was divided into several phases. In sections of the facilities that Veltins needed during the week for beer production, a single weekend without production was utilized to rewire the entire electronic infrastructure managed by the controllers. To start, the I/O channels were then reconnected to the old controllers, and they continued to use the old automation programs for the time being. Later production phases would then be used to gradually transfer the functionality from the old systems to the new controllers.
A clear victory
Clear evidence that the phased switch-over was a success: the peak production during the 2006 World Cup didn't create a single bottleneck at the Veltins brewery, although the event took place right in the middle of the modernization project.
"Even while the transition was still underway, we were able to avoid what had been one of the main reasons for the modernization: production downtime," concludes Bartmann. Due to the interconnected production processes and limited diagnostics, the project was very sensitive during the transition phase.
Veltins recognized quickly that the B&R automation solution, with its reliable products and long-term availability, would not only solve the known problems, but also create many new opportunities for improvement.
"In the fermentation and storage cellar, APROL made it possible for us to automate many production areas that had previously still been controlled manually. This allowed us to eliminate all hand-operation entirely, which further improved product quality," illustrates Bartmann. "A deciding factor was that APROL is based on LINUX, which as an open source solution gives it a high degree of flexibility. It was therefore no problem to integrate Profibus automation components with S5 and S7 controllers into the system via TCP/IP, or industrial notebooks, which communicate with APROL via WLAN."
An eye on the process - Anytime, anywhere
The robust notebooks give the operators an overview of the entire process and allow them to make any necessary settings, even when they're not in the new control room with its nine operator stations and >>
Another popular feature is that the APROL system makes it relatively easy to create interfaces with software tools from other manufacturers in cases where they weren't already available. "The seamless integration of tools such as EPLAN View or CADISON simplifies engineering, since data, symbols and names don't need to be converted. This certainly contributed to our ability to process higher volumes at shorter intervals through the individual steps of the transition," reasons Bartmann. "What is more, the maintenance personnel can determine where an error occurred and what replacement part is needed without having to flip through ring binders or walk all the way to the fermenting and storage cellar. All they have to do is call up the CADISON database from the APROL application."
Using data already provided within APROL and collected with internal functions such as Audit Trail - at Veltins APROL manages more than 7.5 million process variables - the brewery has extensive information about the brewing processes and production at its fingertips. This brings clear advantages, as Dirk Bartmann can confirm: "Much of this information was available before we switched over to APROL, but often only in the form of Excel tables or hand-written logs. Extracting this data to create documentation such as inventory reports was understandably time-intensive. APROL enables us to automate many of these tasks and easily group and link data together.
Veltins is now able to trace individual batches back through production, and if there were to be a customer complaint - which has yet to occur - Veltins could find out where the problem occurred and determine if any other batches were affected. "APROL gives us considerably more information that we can access much more quickly. This allows us to identify and correct errors sooner and makes it easier to optimize processes," adds Bartmann.
Service and maintenance has been greatly simplified, since Veltins took advantage of the modernization and reorganized the automation technology so that equipment and automation components with common functions are now arranged in decentralized groups.
In light of the many benefits and new possibilities provided by APROL and B&R automaiton technology, Dirk Bartmann has these positive words to say in closing: "We have created a uniform solution from the control level to the field level, with unrestricted access and high availability and adaptability. I am confident that we have brought APROL a tangible step forward and established it as an ideal system for the brewing industry."
Bernecker + Rainer Industrie-Elektronik Ges.m.b.H.
B&R Strasse 1
B&R Strasse 1