Case Study

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Bottling Made Easy at Yalumba

Yalumba implements new state of the art bottling lines to help reduce labour costs, increase production capacity and minimise occupational health and safety issues

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  • To upgrade bottling lines to meet increasing demand and maintain product consistency
  • To integrate legacy PLC’s into a new line control system combining new and old equipment



  • Increased production capacity - High level integrated control and automation was achieved with bottling production in line two increasing by 50 percent
  • Reduced power usage - New bottling lines have reduced power consumption by 10 percent
  • Improved safety and reduced labour - The automated solution has reduced labour requirements and improved safety

Five generations and 168 years later Yalumba, Australia's oldest family owned winery, has grown in size and stature, embodying all that has made the Australian wine success story the envy of winemakers the world over.

Yalumba’s heritage-listed Angaston winery was founded in 1849 in South Australia’s famous Barossa Valley and today continues to produce high-quality wines loved by generations.

The marketplace for wines has undergone significant change, with consolidation and disintermediation throughout the supply chain in most markets. As such, technology is becoming a more important component in winemaking.

To keep up with increasing consumer demands and maintain product consistency, Yalumba called on FOODMACH and Rockwell Automation to upgrade their bottling lines.

Old Meets New

The Angaston site has five bottling lines with the main production on two glass bottling lines which were last updated in the early eighties. The remainder of the lines are used for sparkling, cask and other miscellaneous packaging tasks.

“While various pieces of equipment were added over time the layout of the bottling lines were set up more than thirty years ago and due to obsolescence and reliability issues we made the decision to pull everything out and start from scratch with the bottling line. We also needed to upgrade the depalletisers that move the glass from pallets onto the line and address our aging conveyors,” said John Ide, manager – winery operations, at Yalumba.

“One of our key goals was to separate our material flow in and out of the line and hence forklift movement in the main operational areas,” he explained.

The project was taken to tender and as a result of their extensive experience in the food and beverage industry, together with their innovative approach and design for the bottling lines, FOODMACH was awarded the project.

FOODMACH designs and manufactures user-focused automation for FMCG and industrial manufacturing customers, delivering fully integrated equipment and packaging lines for maximum productivity. They offer customised solutions for packaging machinery design, manufacturing, controls and service. FOODMACH’s Robomatrix® hybrid palletising system fully utilises the Allen-Bradley® ControlLogix® platform and FactoryTalk® View SE, and according to FOODMACH, has become the gold standard of high-speed beverage palletisers in Australia and abroad.

The first bottling line contained predominantly existing equipment that was relocated with new controls, a new conveyor and new palletisers, while line two was a completely new line with a new de-palletiser, filler and packer. The existing labeller and palletiser were retained.

FOODMACH’s key responsibilities were to provide the overall automation and control systems for the bottling lines as a whole, design, supply all the conveying and to manufacture two new glass depalletisers.  Careful consideration of the control interfacing between each machine on the line teamed with appropriate conveyor design and buffering is essential to delivering the highest possible line efficiencies.

According to Gavin Alder, software manager, FOODMACH, “Having worked with Rockwell Automation previously, we knew that their control system would be the best choice for this application in regards to integration, programming and commissioning. We have developed our software standards around OMAC/PackML and using our proprietary line control software all neatly wrapped up in Add On Instructions we can develop and deploy systems quickly and consistently. Programming becomes drag and drop.

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Bottling line two was a completely new line with a new de-palletiser, filler and packer. 

Flexibility and Speed

“Prior to the upgrade, both bottling lines had no integrated automation so basically everything including the conveyors and packers, ran as individual pieces of equipment. We wanted the new lines to be completed integrated,” said Ide.

By controlling both lines with ControlLogix, this high level of integrated control and automation could be achieved through Ethernet communications. In line one, the control system feeds back information about the line’s speed and based on this information, the equipment is able to speed up or slow down. The capacity of ControlLogix for this backward integration to the legacy PLCs added significant value to the solution.

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ControlLogix provides high-level integrated control and automation for the bottling line. 

The second line was controlled slightly differently in that the filler speed was established and the line itself will speed up or slow down to match whatever it needs to do the conveying. That is, the filler stays fixed at a determined speed and the conveying ramps up or down to suit, whereas with line one the conveying is at a fixed speed and the machines ramp up or down to suit.

Ide explains, “This suits our needs because line one is a very flexible line where we can bottle varying amounts and liquids including sparkling, cork, screwcap and crown sealed bottles but line two is our high volume line and need to run at speed. Line one can fill between 6000-9000 bottles per hour while line two is set to fill 12,000 bottles per hour of 750ml screw cap bottles.”

Talking the Talk

Having everything on a common visualisation platform provides a clear view across both lines and also helps operators to monitor the operational status of the winery. FactoryTalk View SE provides unified site-wide monitoring . Bottling line control via three VersaView® terminals on the plant-floor with the local edition of FactoryTalk View SE (providing redundancy and security for line control) and PanelView™ Plus human-machine interfaces (HMI) for individual machine level control.

“The standalone units for the overall control of the line have been fantastic, basically, we can go into them, select a recipe of what bottle we want to be running and they will basically set the line with the parameters that need to run that bottle. As soon as we select a recipe, all the parameters go into the drives and it limits the filler speed and sets everything else up that we need to run that particular bottle, ” said Luke Wilson, senior process engineer at Yalumba.

“In the very near future we will be rolling out FactoryTalk Metrics across the bottling line which will be used to capture production data, provide real time OEE, uptime performance indicators and graphical representations through FactoryTalk Delay Accounting and VantagePoint®,” he added.

The Angaston site has six thin clients that also allow operators to keep a close watch on trends using remote access to FactoryTalk ViewPoint without having to come to site. This system is integrated with Yalumba’s proprietary ‘wine management system’ which is a non-commercial database of all vintages for the purpose of label integrity.

“The Integrated Architecture® system from Rockwell Automation made it very quick and easy to bring the system online and up to speed. We have developed conveying blocks using Rockwell Automation Add on Instructions. Using these instructions has greatly reduced the design and commissioning times required for such a project,” explained Alder.

Fuss-Free Filling and De-Palletising

“In what was a good outcome for Yalumba, the OEM team at Rockwell Automation helped to integrate the Allen-Bradley CompactLogix™ controller in the new filler which was imported from Italy. This provided the capability for easy commissioning and integration that would not have been possible with another controller,” said Ide.

According to Rob Campbell, OEM account manager, Rockwell Automation, “This is a good example of how we can leverage our global reach and collaborations to provide added value to our customers and most importantly make it a seamless process.”

CompactLogix also controls the new de-palletiser, manufactured locally by FOODMACH and Servo drives from Rockwell Automation are used to run the lift motor and sweep where it moves the bottles in a single layer.

“The de-palletising is a fully automated process which has helped reduce the manual labour at the plant. At the end of the second line we have a robot that arranges pallet formation automatically. The control for both lines allows the system to monitor the intake and output of the entire line, speeding it up or slowing it down depending on whether there are any issues, hold ups or backlogs,” explained Ide.

Producing Quality Wines Today and for Future Generations

To maintain the flavour and freshness of each bottle of Yalumba wine, dissolved oxygen meters with alarming have been integrated into the bottling line to avoid oxidation. Line one contains a carbon dioxide (CO2) meter to measure dissolved CO2 in sparkling wine.

The quality systems are integrated with the SCADA system so data is collected directly with FactoryTalk Transaction Manager to provide information on the product being bottled through the filtration skid and store all relevant information about the batch in FactoryTalk Historian for future reference and quality control, reducing the risk associated with manual reporting.

The wine bottling and labelling is carried out in an insulated room that is controlled by an air conditioning system. CompactLogix controls the air conditioning system so that parameters such as relative humidity, dewpoint and room temperature are monitored on the SCADA system.

“We’re now using 10 percent less overall power for the bottling area compared to what was consumed prior to setting up the new lines and we have also increased capacity on line two by 50 percent. The automation solution has also allowed us to reduce labour costs and improved safety,” said Ide.

Yalumba has been manufacturing high-quality wines for more than 160 years and thanks to the investment in new technologies and a commitment to quality, future generations will be able to enjoy many more vintages for many years to come.

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Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family owned winery. 

Allen-Bradley, CompactLogix, ControlLogix, FactoryTalk, Listen. Think. Solve., Integrated Architecture, PanelView, Rockwell Software, VantagePoint and VersaView are trademarks of Rockwell Automation, Inc.

All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


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