Product safety and consistency are critical to any beverage manufacturing process. For decades, beverage producers have relied on non-standard batch systems to help maintain process quality – and throughput.
Facing accelerating regulations, a shrinking pool of skilled workers and unrelenting market demand for more product variation, beverage producers are requiring more standardization than ever before.
When a global producer of distilled beverages, beer and wine planned to expand capacity at their Illinois plant, they approached process design firm, Barnum Mechanical, Inc. for a turnkey solution. Barnum engaged Industrial Automation Group for the new control system.
Headquartered in Modesto, California, Industrial Automation Group specializes in process control solutions for the food and beverage industry. The company is a Rockwell Automation recognized system integrator and a Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) certified member.
“Improving the process effi ciency of their installed base was a key objective for this beverage company,” said NinivTamimi, program manager, Industrial Automation Group. “Also, they planned to increase their total capacity by adding raw ingredient storage, intermediate, batching and bottling tanks to their system.”
The plant expansion was signifi cant and increased railcar/truck stations and storage tanks by about 75 percent in the receiving area. The blend room experienced a similar increase. In bottling, tanks were added and some existing tanks were converted to “fl ex tanks,” which could be used for either bottling or raw ingredient storage.
“As they expanded their operation, the company planned to migrate to an “all-in-one” batch solution,” Tamimi explained. “They wanted to install an efficient, S88-compliant system.”
The ANSI/ISA-88 (S88) standard provides a consistent set of terminology and standards for batch control in industrial automation systems – including the physical model, procedures and recipe management. The existing system did not comply with S88.
“Commercial database software was used for recipe storage – and their entire batching system was programmed using Visual Basic for Application (VBA) code and their legacy HMI,” said Tamimi. To achieve acceptable product quality with the existing system, the plant often needed to implement two or three batch corrections for each batch. The testing time for each batch correction was approximately two hours. In addition, the system had no “failover” or redundant capabilities.
“As a result, if a server went down, the system could be out for two to four hours,” said Tamimi. “In addition to improving product quality, our customer needed to increase system availability.”
Last but not least, the company required better security. The existing system had just three logins: Operator, Supervisor and Administrator. Passwords for the logins could be easily shared among all users. The customer specified that the new process system incorporate user specific login, automatic sign-out and e-signatures.
Industrial Automation Group applied a control solution based on the PlantPAx® process automation system, a modern distributed control system (DCS) from Rockwell Automation.
“With a PlantPAx solution, we could design a high availability system that would take advantage of many newer technologies – like virtualization,” explained Tamimi. “We actually chose a virtual environment for this application.”
Rockwell Automation supports virtualization with VMware® Ready software and recommends the use of server virtualization, and VMware vSphere®, when dealing with run-time production applications. Server virtualization removes the dependency on a full host operating system (OS) and provides a much more stable environment for critical applications.
The new system includes an information enabled, scalable, multi discipline control platform that combines process and discrete control with communication and intrinsically safe I/O. The fully redundant system controls the applications in the processing areas as well as the Clean in Place (CIP) skids. Remote control was integrated for hazardous Class 1, Division 1 processing. Operator workstations were established in the control room and batching rooms. An engineering workstation was also placed in the control room for live optimization of the process.
In addition, the PlantPAx system includes supervisory level visualization capabilities to provide operators with optimal insight into process information. Data management, performance and visibility, and production management software supply process and batch control.
To keep the plant up and running as much as possible throughout the upgrade, Industrial Automation Group implemented the system in phases. First, the bulk liquid receiving areas, including the new truck and railway stations as well as the new bulk storage tanks were brought on line. CIP sequences were also applied to these assets.
Next, the new batching system was added. To implement the system, 120 original recipes were recreated. Due to the plant expansion and new assets in the system, the order of material additions was revised as part of the process to decrease batch time and maintain quality.
“Rigorous testing and quality control were extremely important,” said Tamimi. “We had to prove the new system could run the existing recipes before we could take down the old system.” Once initial Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) was complete, the team integrated the new control system during a two-week shutdown. The system was tested further – and parameters and recipes were tuned as needed.
“The plant has improved overall throughput and consistency,” said Tamimi. “Plus the company can add new recipes more easily with the batch system, since most operations and many unit procedures are shared.”
To streamline recipe development further, the system allows dynamic prioritization based on operator input or other defined variables. Thanks to the material manager functionality within the batch software, recipes do not need to be rewritten if the same material resides in a different tank.
During the commissioning phase, Industrial Automation Group helped the beverage company introduce 50 new recipes.
The system also improves CIP reporting. It tracks all sequencing and auto-generates reports after each CIP cycle is completed – to document proper cleaning procedures before the next batch is run.
In addition, the system helps ensure product consistency.
“Raw ingredients don't always enter the system with the exact same properties defined in the recipe,” Tamimi explained. “When that's the case, we can update the parameters in the system and it will auto-adjust the ingredient amounts for each recipe.”
With the PlantPAx system in place, the beverage plant has met their goal of no more than one batch correction per batch.
Finally, the system has helped enable better security with individual logins and e-signatures. The system also imposes a 15-minute automatic sign-out and requires re-entry of credentials for all critical items.