Brewery Tabs Rockwell for Improving Connectivity, Production Rates

The expanded connectivity will help improve production capabilities and decrease reliance on imports to help cut costs at the malting plant.

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Rockwell Automation recently supplied South African Breweries’ (SAB) with its first fully automated and networked EtherNet/IP-based control system at its new maltings plant in Alrode, South Africa. The control system will integrate traditionally disparate, malt-production processes into a single, networked, EtherNet/IP-based solution. Ideally, this will provide plant-wide visibility and actionable data from the production floor to SAB’s top floor.

The new maltings plant will account for more than half of the breweries’ South African and Namibian malt production when fully commissioned early in 2016. In a move to support the local economy, the new plant, situated next to the company’s existing brewery in Alrode, is projected to increase production, reducing the cost of of imported malt. Production capabilities will increase from 42,000 to 150,000 tons per year.

The solution Rockwell Automation implemented connects all data from the plant floor to the rest of the SAB enterprise, transforming the plant into a more connected enterprise. “By converging operations technology and information technology, we enable SAB secure access to operational, business and transactional data to improve the malting plant’s supply-chain, economic and sustainable performance,” explained Adrian van Wyk, Rockwell Automation business manager for power and components in Johannesburg, South Africa. "All devices and processes within the plant are integrated in a single, secure network with dual-port, EtherNet/IP-based hardware connected in a device-level-ring (DLR) configuration."

Controlled by Allen-Bradley ControlLogix controllers and Allen-Bradley Stratix industrial EtherNet/IP switches, the motor control centers comprise more than 500 E300 intelligent electronic overload control relays, 70 Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 750 AC drives, and 50 Allen-Bradley SMC Flex smart motor control soft starters for motor starting, stopping, control and protection with greater production efficiency.

To address the plant’s energy metering, energy consumption, load shedding and harmonics analysis, Rockwell supplied a range of its Allen-Bradley PowerMonitor metering solutions. Technical partner MSE provided all packaged motor control centers throughout the plant to reduce cabling costs.

In order to keep the plant running non-stop, all motor control center, device-level hardware is equipped with the Rockwell automatic device configuration (ADC) for automatic self-healing and configuring of replaced components. ADC, paired with the Rockwell DLR network that ensures uninterrupted, real-time device communication, provides SAB with greater network resilience and reduces unplanned downtime.

“There is no part of the new plant that isn’t connected: Everything is networked on EtherNet/IP,” commented van Wyk. Integration partner, Advansys, is responsible for the integration of all processes and control systems for the plant.

Currently running at 70 percent capacity, the Alrode plant is set to be fully commissioned early in 2016.

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