Australian food and beverage industries have been recently challenged with increased demand. Existing processes have felt the pressures of the added workloads, and many are looking for new and innovative ways to upgrade their businesses into the future, without the high price tag.
Many sites are running on much older fieldbus technologies such as Device Net which has been superseded by new technologies. The other issue is finding the level of support for Device Net set ups, as suppliers within the industry are phasing out this level of support in a movement that almost is forcing businesses into new technology, whether they’re ready or not.
There’s no “one size, fits all”
Every manufacturer is unique in their needs and requirements, and considering new automation technology can sometimes feel overwhelming. Which fieldbus do you upgrade to, if at all, or how can you introduce smart devices without having to overhaul the entire network?
What is welcoming is that we’re saying goodbye to the days of traditional, bespoke system installations. The long drawn out process of commissioning customised panels, taking 16-weeks to deliver are behind us.
Today’s age of fast connection and single-touch operation capabilities with standard networks and systems, will benefit a food and beverage plant from day one because it will offer many features including:
• open network connectivity;
• real time diagnostics;
• expansion capabilities;
• flexible process control;
• automatic software updates; and
• remote operating functions.
Within the food & beverage industry, the key to finding the best automation solution is a thorough analysis of each individual part of the plant or installation.
By carrying out an in-depth analysis of the application, it can be determined if a centralised control system using non-intelligent nodes, will deliver the required performance.
Also, if the sheer size of the system means that the control has to be decentralised – using a fieldbus system working with field controls, intelligent valves and actuators.
Burkert’s range of hygienic equipment solutions for automation control
When considering upgrading your systems to a fieldbus network solution, you’re embracing the now and the future.
So it doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, it’s where you’re going and who you’re on that journey with.
In the context of Industry 4.0, demand for automated processes is increasing.
So too is the demand for systems with intelligent field devices that can continuously exchange large volumes of (digital) process, device and diagnostic data with the higher-level controller (PLC1).
The digitalisation of all production processes is leading to increased requirements with regard to digital data exchange between process valves and higher-level controllers/PLC.
In conjunction with Industry 4.0, Industrial Ethernet is also becoming increasingly popular.
Reasons for this include the ability to access field devices directly from the controller level as well as hassle-free device installation supported by integrated Ethernet interfaces.
However, a field device with a fully integrated Industrial Ethernet interface is still a relatively costly option for most applications. To allow customers to exploit the advantages of industrial Ethernet even without a fully-fledged Ethernet device, Bürkert’s new combination of büS as a sub-bus system with the gateway Type ME43 for connecting control heads and fit-for-purpose devices to the PLC using industrial Ethernet or fieldbus represents a cost-effective and solution.
Bürkert’s Type 8681 is equipped with a universal actuator adapter. This permits attachment to most hygienic process valves currently available on the market.
In combination with the gateway Type ME43, hygienic process valves can also be easily integrated in automation systems via Industrial Ethernet.
This control head is perfect for CIP applications, as we’ve experienced in Norco Dairy, who have utilised this decentralised technology in their new plant upgrade to control and manage their processes.
Bürkert’s Type 8619 multiCELL, multi-channel and multi-fucntion transmitter/controller the ideal device for measurement and control and as well dosing processes in applications of water treatment plants (like boiler, cooling tower or reverse osmosis systems) and food and pharma plants.
Sophisticated electronics and state of the art control algorithms ensure that optimum process control is maintained at all times with minimal operator intervention and achieving highest quality.
Bürkert’s mass flow meters and controllers ever extending range offers high accuracy and repeatability for gas dosing, fermentation and gax mixing processes.
In Type 8745, the thermal inline sensor is located directly in the main gas stream and therefore reaches very fast response times while causing a very low pressure drop. A direct-acting proportional valve as regulating unit guarantees high sensitivity.
Integrated PI controller ensures outstanding control characteristics of the MFC.
Bürkert’s Type 8098 FLOWave flowmeter is based on SAW (Surface Acoustic Waves) technology and is mainly designed for applications with the highest hygienic demands.
FLOWave offers a range of integrated functions, including advantages such as flexibility, ease of cleaning, compact dimensions, lightweight design, easy installation and handling, and is compliant with numerous standards.
Optimal measurement results can be achieved with homogeneous liquids, free of air and solid particles. Integrated viscosity compensation can be used for liquids with higher viscosity.
Australian food and beverage manufacturers supported by German engineering
Bürkert has been supporting the essential industries of Australia for over 40 years. The company’s depth of knowledge for fit-for-purpose devices and networked structures is supported by local and global capabilities.
Luke Houlihan has spent most of his working life around wine and wineries and up until recently had his own boutique brand vineyard producing vintages out of the Yarra Valley.
With a Bachelor in of Applied Science in Wine Science, it made sense when a position became available to become part of the team at process, automation and control specialists Bürkert’s Australian operation. He jumped on board in a heartbeat and he couldn’t be happier.
“There’s such a huge amount to get my teeth into,” he said. “There is massive scope for me and Bürkert to cover off, so I have a lot to look forward to. We are already getting traction from a large international wine group and the momentum is just starting. The next five years is going to be extremely exciting.”
One of the key focuses for Houlihan is to help winemakers, brewers and distillers streamline their production using innovative process and automation equipment. Houlihan said the industry is traditional, but it is about balancing the art of winemaking with the science of winemaking.
“It’s about maintaining that natural, organic way of winemaking with new processes that will help improve product,” he said. “By maintaining or improving quality, you end up with a better proposition for your customers, in the sense you are offering best value for money in terms of your product. It is in a winemaker’s interest to look at those things. And I think the industry is at a stage where they are in a real consolidation phase. There are a lot of medium-sized and upwards wineries that are ready to recapitalise. They’ve paid down their debt on infrastructure and are in a position where they can put some more money into improving their processes.”
What makes Houlihan stand out from other BDMs is that he has on-the-ground experience in making wine so is well aware of some of the pitfalls that can occur in the process. He knows how important it is to have reliable equipment that won’t fail at a critical stage – something that Bürkert has in abundance.
“A key for us is also being able to offer for example, a simple valve that is good for five million cycles,” he said. “They can put it into place and forget about it. It’s not going to pack up mid-vintage and cause grief because their cooling system has gone down because they’ve put in a cheap valve. The unseen thing is about offering a value proposition to a winemaker and saying ‘Spend a little bit extra now. Put this valve in and forget about it. It’s not going to cause you grief.’
“Mid vintage there are times when you’re running around seven days a week, working 20-15 hour days. If something packs up, you don’t want to try getting hold of a plumber at 11 o’clock at night to sort it out. It is a pain and is not what you want to be doing.”
It has been a baptism by fire of sorts for Houlihan as he came on board in May, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant he couldn’t get out and meet clients. However, that is about to change.
“I’m really keen to get out and look at the different control systems that are in place at the different installations. It is much easier to talk about those applications when you can see them in situ rather than on a PDF file, which is how I’m seeing a lot of things at the moment,” he said.
In 2012 Houlihan took a new role in the wine industry with a company that provided technical support and wine supplies, such as yeast and wine additives, as well as filtration equipment. In that role, he developed a strong technical understanding of water treatment for various industries including brewing and distilling. Having offered such technical and sales support in the past, Houlihan knows a lot of people in the industry and has the expertise to help.
“I especially love the integration with network technologies to do jobs remotely,” he said. “I love that stuff. There’s such a huge amount for me to do.”
Houlihan also believes in a holistic approach when it comes to helping clients out. He thinks it is important to develop a long-term relationship and strategy with a client, as opposed to fixing an issue and then moving on. And he has his own reputation to think about, too.
“My goal is to partner with companies,” he said. “Most of my friends are in the wine industry, I couldn’t on face value go to a friend and say ‘buy this valve, you’re helping me out’. I’m not going to burn my friendships over dodgy products. Being able to represent a company that is the Mercedes of process control is really exciting. You’re putting your reputation behind a really strong product. We look at their processes and rather than going into a winery and saying, ‘Right, here’s this valve.’ Or, ‘Buy this or that.’ We’re looking at asking the questions; ‘Where are you guys going? What do you want to achieve and how do you want to get there?’”
Bürkert puts a lot of effort into refining and developing equipment that will suit the customer’s needs. Houlihan sees himself building on the networks and relationships he has already to talk to winemakers, brewers and distillers and help them develop strategies that will help their business grow.
“They need to have a blueprint in place so that when they are going forward, they are putting infrastructure in that will support where they want to be in another five to 10 years,” he said.
“At the end of the day we’re here to help make beverage manufacturers lives easier,” he said. “We are focusing on increasing and improving their production processes and reducing overall costs of production as well as simplifying production, too. We are also looking at ways automation and control can help improve their processes. It’s also about making them more sustainable environmentally, too. Reducing wastage in areas like energy costs, excess compressors – there’s a whole range of ongoing savings with the right fit out. In summing up it’s about Bürkert making their lives easier in partnering with them for the long haul.”
If there is one thing that a brewery needs it is reliable field devices when it comes to measurement and control systems. Making beer is a fine art, and that is something that is not lost on fluid control system specialist Bürkert.
At a recent installation in Germany, Bürkert’s products were installed to help with the automation of a brewery. It was an interesting case study on how modernising a brewery can not only help streamline processes, but also provides an insight on what it takes to upgrade plant and machinery.
Based in the German state of Bavaria, the pilot brewery of Weihenstephan’s research centre for brewery and food quality has existed in one form or another for centuries. In its current state, automated flowmeters, process control valves, solenoid valves, pneumatic actuators and “smart” valve islands make manual adjustments of plant and machinery unnecessary. This not only saves time, but also enables monitoring of the recipes developed or tested here possible at any time. The control system is kept so simple that the master brewer can create, operate and modify recipes from a PC using an Excel spreadsheet.
Where beer is reinvented every day
The pilot brewery enables the creation of pilot brews for all kinds of beer, fermented malt drinks and mixtures. Pilot brews are prepared both in the name of research and on the basis of orders, ultimately resulting in drinks for consumption. This process starts with the mashing, brewing and fermentation processes through to the testing of suitable yeasts, microorganisms, ripening processes and filtration capabilities.
The desire for greater process quality
The pilot brewery has an output of 50 litres of wort and a capacity of nine fermentation tanks capable of holding 60 litres each. Beyond that, the brewhouse and the lautering process of the “mini brewery” are no different from those of a larger facility.
Until now, most things were adjusted manually. This applied to the control valves in the water intake for mashing and sparging, through to the control valves for the lautered wort and to the pump used to drain the wort tank or to adjust the height of the rake arms. There was no scaling here and the rake motor always ran at the same speed.
To achieve a better basis for future research work, those responsible at the research centre decided it was time to modernise the plant automation. However, the decision-makers felt it was important to be able to intervene in the system at any time, even after its modernisation.
The small brewery picked a competent partner that has developed multibrauplus, an automation solution specifically tailored to small and medium-sized breweries. Based on a Simatic S7 from Siemens and graphical visualisation, all the functions – from malt storage bins to fermentation cellar – could be automated. Despite this, the brewers were still left with sufficient leeway to take decisions, since Excel was deliberately chosen as the dialogue medium with the process control system.
The “programming” activities are limited to filling out a standard text list, which was then interpreted by the process control. The monitors, calculations and control functions included in the commands were managed by the process control alone.
From control valve to flowmeter
However, process control alone does not make automation possible; since automatic control valves, flowmeters and pneumatic actuators are required to automate existing manual valves. As a fluidic system expert, Bürkert, supplied and installed the required hardware for the fluidic systems, handled the installation of the wiring and hoses, and supported start-up.
The range of applied fluidic components covered the process control valve used for the steam needed to heat the mashing and wort tank, the temperature controller on the wort cooler, various flowmeters and a valve island mounted in the control cabinet that is used to control all of the valves installed in the process. The height of the rake arms of the lauter tun was also adjusted automatically using a solenoid valve. The existing flap valves were overhauled and equipped with pneumatic actuators. Furthermore, there was also a brewing water storage tank in which the water could be precisely blended using a modular blending unit.
Valve island as an automation system
The entire pneumatic system was controlled by a valve island. This was directly installed and shipped in a stainless steel, hygienically designed control cabinet with the stainless-steel control AirLINE Quick base plate to save space.
The stainless-steel control cabinet was well suited to the small pilot brewery. All of the valves also had a P-channel shut-off mechanism, which meant they could be switched out even while the machine was in operation without shutting it down.
A worthwhile investment
For the pilot brewery, the investment in cutting-edge automation technology has paid off. A high degree of reproducibility and traceability was simple with this solution, as data acquisition was integrated into the control system. Product-specific information could be displayed graphically along with other measured values. Thanks to the partnership, the system was prepared for start-up quickly and easily.
With Australian breweries sprouting up at a rate of almost one every two months, it is important to know that these types of upgrades are also available for small- to medium-sized Australian breweries. Bürkert’s Pacific sales manager, Tom Kirby, has been with the company for 16 years and he said the company is geared up to help breweries upgrade. And he knows it’s not just about the field devices supplied.
“We try and design a support and an automation package that caters for a small to large applications or requirements,” he said. “The key for an individual brewery is to directly align our solution to their particular business model that is, using their longer-term vision to define what their requirements should be, while still maintaining their unique identity and their own personal craftsmanship.”
Plant reliability helps provide uniformity and consistency for each and every batch.
“What needs to be taken into consideration is the dedication to their brand, their brew and varieties that they are trying to produce, making sure you get the same consistency in taste – batch after batch,” said Kirby. “I also think it is a situation where it comes down to the marketability of the product. You want to be able to show that what you are doing with your product is a bit special.”
Kirby is also clear on how he sees the relationship between his company and potential clients.
“Bürkert is solution orientated, with those businesses ready to automate their processes,” he said. “Bürkert’s approach is to look beyond a single project with a client. It is partnership for us. We believe in a joint venture approach in identifying the correct solution needed, customised to each application. That’s what makes Bürkert unique.”
Food safety and hygiene were in the news in June this year when eight brands of milk were recalled in Victoria and New South Wales amid fears that they had been contaminated by cleaning fluid.
Production plants need to be cleaned regularly when changing over batches or products. However, at the same time, the production process should be carried out as efficiently as possible.
The FLOWave flowmeter from Bürkert Fluid Control Systems offers extended functions, including the fast and precise detection of media changeovers. As a result, production steps can be clearly separated from each other and waste can be reduced without negatively impacting on hygiene.
The FLOWave flowmeter enables the precise detection of changeovers between different liquid types during food production. Especially in rinsing processes, rapid differentiation between product and rinsing water, or chemicals used in the CIP cleaning processes, ensures efficient process control and a high level of quality.
The device thus continuously measures the temperature-independent density factor. Based on this measured value, valuable products such as milk can be quickly and reliably differentiated from the cleaning liquid. Compared to conventional time-controlled processes, product waste can be minimised and costs saved. In addition, the amount of waste water treatment required is reduced as less product enters the waste water.
The flowmeter works according to the SAW method (Surface Acoustic Waves). This patented technology can also be used to measure the transition between beer or pre-mixed alcoholic beverages and water. FLOWave utilises the propagation speed of the surface acoustic waves in the liquid for this purpose. The speed increases with the addition of alcohol and sugar. This also leads to an increase in the density factor of the liquid compared to water. However, the actual density of the liquid hardly changes depending on the alcohol and sugar content, since sugar increases the density while alcohol reduces it.
The transition between beer or pre-mixed alcoholic beverages and water is therefore often very difficult to measure with conventional density meters.
The density factor not only indicates the media changeover between product and water, it also differentiates between liquids with varying contents of sugar. The SAW technology allows additional data to be obtained from the medium. In addition to the temperature, the flowmeter automatically detects possible gas bubbles and outputs the values in percentage terms. Possible process faults can thus be eliminated quickly and effectively.
SAW technology does not require sensor elements in the measuring tube. This means there are no pressure drops, sealing problems or dead spaces that would otherwise interfere with cleaning.
The sensors thus meet the highest hygiene standards and facilitate the qualification and validation of production and cleaning processes.
The Bürkert flowmeter also supports digital communication with direct connection to most fieldbus types such as Ethernet IP and Profinet, via a platform that guarantees simple transmission of FLOWave sensor data to all common fieldbuses. The maintenance-free, lightweight and yet robust meters can be mounted in any position.
Burkert Australia was approached by a process engineering and automation consulting firm who were commissioned by a dairy manufacturer in Victoria to assist them in the consolidation of raw milk inflow processing.
Ultimately, the dairy manufacturer wanted to de-commission one site where they had an external milk drop off station and bring all of its resources and processing into one main site. This entailed bringing all raw milk deliveries back into its main storage silos located at the main processing site, streamlining operations and through this relocation exercise, consolidate all facility production.
After assessment of the dairy site’s current equipment and requirements for future-proofing the facility, they ended up with a number of dissimilar process valves and control heads located between the two facilities. On review of the project, the consulting firm offered them the opportunity to reduce the overall cost of the project by utilising a mixture of existing and new process valves. This was designed to save the dairy both time and money in bringing their processes onto one site, without the outlay of a completely new fit-out.
To achieve this consolidation methodology, while also improving their overall reliability of the process, the consulting firm sought to partner with Burkert Australia. With knowledge of Burkert’s products, the company requested Burkert’s assistance in reviewing current site equipment and worked together to supply a solution for the dairy that would work best for project timelines and budget restrictions.
Through investigation and itemisation of the dairy’s existing equipment, the engineering consultant offered the project management team the option to maintain their existing process valve equipment from multiple suppliers and brands by implementing the Burkert Type 8681 control heads. They were fitted with their existing equipment to standardise and automate their processes on the one site. This solution was investigated and found to be the best suited to the application and clean in place (CIP) needs, giving the dairy peace of mind as they would also be future proofing their facility as the control heads are equipped with ASi Communication. This application would also ensure lower costs for ongoing maintenance, standardise communication as well as ensure data accuracy and assurance through a single system feed. The control heads were able to be fitted to the multiple-branded seat and butterfly valve types allowing for a decentralised automation process to the consolidated facility.
Due to Burkert’s adaptability and capabilities of its control head, the Type 8681 was able to work with all of the process valves supplied at the dairy without complication.
Decentral automation can have significant advantages regarding monitoring, flexibility and safety, even with complex projects. If local access to information and valves is required, decentral automation offers many further benefits. The basis is formed by flexible process valve systems that make for lean automation processes and straightforward cabling and piping. This shortens planning phases and makes the plant design more transparent, saving time and money in the installation phase and ensuring a fast start-up. Operation is efficient and economical due to switching intervals being short, with little delay times. In addition, the combination of intelligent information exchange via direct messaging and status diagnosis, greater reliability thanks to clear-cut process monitoring architecture and easy troubleshooting all speak for themselves. LED displays ensure that switching statuses are visible even from a distance. The components can also be cleaned easily and are suitable for thorough washdowns.
Type 8681 was implemented, along with a number of required new valves to complete the project and bring together the mixture of pre-existing products. Therefore, a hygienic process automation solution was put in place for the dairy.
This simple control head allows for decentralised automation of hygienic processes such as this. Due to its universal adapter, it can be combined with all normal commercial butterfly valves, ball valves, single- and double-seated valves. With a decentralised automation concept, the control head takes over all pneumatic actuation, feedback and diagnostic functions including field bus communication.
The housing is easy to clean and features high IP ratings for protection and chemically resistant materials for use in hygienic processing in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Depending on the process valve type, up to three pneumatic actuator chambers can be controlled independently from each other. The switching speeds of both movement directions can be set separately. A built-in check valve prevents incorrect switching of process valve actuator chambers, which could result from back pressure.
The process valve switching positions are detected by an inductive, analogue position sensor and reported to the PLC system. Up to three switching points can be adjusted automatically by a Teach-In function. Additionally, a fourth switching position can be read in and fed back via an external inductive proximity switch. The coloured status display signals the particular process valve switching position or indicates a diagnostic function such as maintenance required status or fault conditions. The pilot valves are equipped with a manual override. If the device housing is closed, the patented magnetically encoded manual override tool can be used to open the process valve from the exterior. Bus communication is available with AS-interface or DeviceNet.
Burkert was chosen because the solution was easily scalebale, as well as the ease by which it interfaces to third-party hygienic process valves and a reduction in control head suppliers. Then there was the seamless integration into the site-wide existing fieldbus infrastructure and especially the highly visible LED colour status indicating the process valve switching position.