McRae implemented a phased approach based on the PlantPAx® distributed control system (DCS) from Rockwell Automation and McRae’s own Meridian BrewSoft and BrewSight software, now FactoryTalk® Brew™.
The system includes reporting and historian software that collects, tracks and records key process data to pinpoint brew cycle trends, allowing operators to proactively make changes to brews as needed. The Rockwell Automation library of process objects provides predefined controller code and faceplates, and the new system helps Sleeman operators more quickly configure new batches and build recipes.
McRae customized the solution for brewing applications with its software solutions, which provide operators with complete control of the process through easily operated web interfaces.
Allen-Bradley® PowerFlex® 525 and PowerFlex 755 drives from Rockwell Automation deliver flexible motor control in the brewing process and help communicate device diagnostics to the control system.
To complete the implementation, McRae worked with Sleeman’s IT team to install VMware® virtualized servers. The Sleeman team had implemented redundant servers at its Vernon facility a few years earlier, but found the costs of the equipment and additional storage space difficult to maintain.
The VMware virtualized servers provided automatic redundancy for production data with enhanced data recovery and expanded data storage. One virtualized server can replace up to four physical backup servers, which greatly decreases the equipment hardware costs.
It also provides the Sleeman team with the ability to create copies of the virtualized servers to run simulations offline and test production changes before they are made.
Ready for More Beer
Within two weeks of the implementation, Sleeman increased production by 50 percent at its Vernon facility going from eight brews to 12 brews per day.
The brewing team can now complete all brews on-site without using third-party producers. And they have avoided the cost of a new facility or significant equipment upgrades or additions.
Additionally, operators have gained more control over the brewing process. With web browser-based recipes, operators can more easily build a new recipe, create a test batch, and store the recipe in the system for additional testing and production.
Brewing managers can simply make process and recipe changes via a web browser interface, without additional personnel.
Management can check on any production issues leveraging the PlantPAx system’s trending capabilities and the BrewSight software’s reporting. With exception reporting, the system creates reports to track progress as the brews reach fermentation and emails management if any brew variables deviate.
The brewing team can take any corrective action needed and reduce downtime, rather than reworking and blending off the brew in small amounts later.