Craft brewing exploded across North America in the late 1980s and has enjoyed exponential growth ever since. Fueled by consumer demand for local and unique products, the industry has responded with distinctive offerings produced in a wide variety of microbreweries, brewpubs and regional brew houses.
Quietly growing alongside the craft brewing boom is Newlands Systems – an equipment supplier that has distinguished itself by designing breweries from the brew master's perspective. A division of Accent Stainless Steel, Newlands Systems was established in 1990 and has installed more than 550 brew systems since its inception. The company is headquartered in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
Newlands Systems provides complete process solutions that extend from conceptual design and feasibility studies through configuration, fabrication, installation, brew quality audits and after sales support.
“Our broad customer spectrum ranges from small microbrewery start-ups to major, global brewers who need help producing a craft brew in their large production facilities,” said Christian Von Der Heide, chief operating officer, Newlands Systems.
In addition, Newlands serves a high percentage of repeat customers. In many cases, these companies are looking to replicate their success in order to broaden distribution. For example, a small craft brewer may plan to expand their own production facilities – or enlist contract brewers in other geographic regions to produce their products.
“Consistent quality is critical for our customers,” Von Der Heide said. “They come to us for repeatable process solutions that preserve the reputation of their brand.”
For each installation, Newlands must consider not only unique recipe ingredients and processing requirements, but also facility limitations, and climate and environmental factors – such as energy or water constraints.
To meet the varied needs of their clientele, Newlands delivers highly customized solutions. In fact, historically up to 90 percent of a typical solution was custom content. By incorporating a standard process control system, the company believed it could a take a more balanced approach to customization – and improve repeatability, supply chain efficiency and time-to-market.
“At the end of the day, our customers want to achieve a particular beer profile, performance and yield,” Von Der Heide explained. “And they also need a solution that's on time and on budget.”
While Newlands Systems had included various automation components in their equipment for years, the company chose to team solely with Rockwell Automation for the new process control system.
“Our decision to work with Rockwell Automation isn't just about the hardware and software – it's a choice based on finding a better overall solution for our customers,” said Von Der Heide. “Unlike our previous supplier, Rockwell Automation provided a cross-functional team to address our needs personally and professionally.”
Throughout system development, the company tapped the expertise of Rockwell Automation Global OEM Technical Consultants (GOTCs) working onsite at Newlands headquarters as well as local distributors and the account team.
The new solution is based on the Rockwell Automation PlantPAx® distributed control system (DCS), configured using standard control objects. The application runs on an Allen-Bradley® CompactLogix™ controller and incorporates Allen-Bradley® PowerFlex® AC drives for variable speed control – plus local monitoring and supervisory-level visualization capabilities.
Integrated on an EtherNet/IP™ network, the system includes an Allen-Bradley Stratix™ managed Ethernet and wireless access point solution for smart plant operation.
The Rockwell Automation craft brewing application provides a flexible and modular control and visualization platform to accommodate Newlands' broad system portfolio that varies widely in vessel size, complexity, and levels of instrumentation and automation.
“The beauty of the system is its modularity and scalability,” said Von Der Heide. “The software solution can be adapted to address a wide range of needs – and both large and small systems.”
In addition, thanks to Ethernet connectivity, Newlands Systems now offers remote monitoring as an aftermarket service. The company also plans to expand their monitoring capabilities by adding smart instrumentation to their system from Endress+Hauser, a Rockwell Automation strategic alliance partner.
“With the Endress+Hauser devices in place, we will have more ways to measure equipment health,” Von Der Heide said. “This data will help us provide customers with better information regarding asset care and preventative maintenance.”
Von Der Heide continued: “Brewing beer is both an art and a science. Working with Rockwell Automation, we are able to take some of the complexity out of our process – and deliver a cost-effective, highly repeatable solution to our customers.”
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