Andalusia’s green gold
Located in Southern Spain, the region of Andalusia stands out thanks to its huge cultural and historical legacy, beaches, and amiable people. It also famous for its gastronomy and, above all, for producing more olive oil than any other region in the world.
In the Eastern Mountains of the province of Granada, in the town of Benalúa de las Villas, lies the San Sebastián - Conde de Benalúa Cooperative, a company founded in 1954. It currently has about 1,500 members, and produces and sells olive oil, with trademarks such as Amarga y Pica, Conde de Benalúa, and Olivar del Sur.
Since its foundation, the company has striven to increase the quality of the whole production process chain that makes oil from olives. In fact, the company owns about 50 control stations distributed across 14,000 productive hectares, along with a careful treatment and fertilizer procedure. Once the product enters its facilities, this care and attention to detail remain, with the additional benefit of being able to process more than 34 million kilograms of harvested olives – that’s about 8.5 million liters of oil production.
This is made possible by the company’s oil mill, which comprises three areas: a reception facility, where olives are brought to be cleaned and put into hoppers; an extraction area, where olives are transformed into oil; and a cellar to store the final product before being delivered to the cooperative members.
To manage these three areas, the oil mill had an automation system based on control sections, developed with proprietary tools by industry integrators that supply specific solutions to automate oil plants. “The challenge is that they are “isolated, not fully integrated systems, which weren’t designed to provide high availability or guard against short electric breakdowns,” explains Marisa García, Production Manager of the Conde de Benalúa plant. “That led to unscheduled downtimes and faults in our highly valued equipment.”