By Ferdie Fortuin, sales manager – general industry at Danfoss Drives South Africa
Which came first in the history of civilisation: bread-making or beer-brewing?
Since the 1950s, scientists and scholars have been arguing about what really caused our early ancestors to start farming and settling down, rather than remaining as nomadic hunter-gatherers.
Whatever the answer to this ‘chicken or egg’ question, one thing is certain: human beings have taken the brewing of alcohol very seriously for centuries. For example, the famous German ‘Reinheitsgebot’, or ‘beer purity law’, is over 500 years old, and was originally introduced as a trade regulation law. Today it is praised as being an early food safety regulation, possibly even the world’s oldest intact law to regulate beer contents.
And so, in the spirit and tradition of taking beer brewing and safety regulations seriously, many solutions exist for different processes throughout the brewing industry, where ‘control’ is a key word all the way from mash to bottled product.
Having experience in brewery-application systems worldwide, variable speed drives (VSDs) -such as supplied by Danfoss, are suitable for all processing control and monitoring, no matter what the specific protocols might be. With the latest condition base monitoring (CBM) technology, one can even provide more information feedback from a single drive that could assist with maintenance schedules within the environment.
As an example – a brewing company in the Netherlands decided to embrace such innovation to secure a more solid and sustainable future. The solution involved using drives with integrated condition-based monitoring (CBM) capabilities to reach its goals.
With the European beer market expected to grow by over 15 percent by 2025, the company realised that, to meet demand, its production line had to deliver a consistently reliable and excellent performance.
However, prior to our engagement, the brewery faced costly and lengthy disruptions whenever a machine fault occurred, with operations taking place in harsh, wet conditions and all applications containing concealed motors, making them difficult to access when issues arise.
Here we were tasked with helping the brewery to:
- Increase up-time;
- Lower overheads;
- Improve management of spare parts and stock;
- Access new levels of machine data; and
- Boost application and system performance.
In August 2019, our proposal was that the brewery install VSDs with embedded intelligence, connectivity and sensor capabilities. Condition-based monitoring signals were then integrated into the brewery’s maintenance system via edge computing.
The brewery also received 4-20 mA vibration sensors (from Hansford Sensors), and we provided additional support with project scoping, commissioning, and training, as well as hosting workshops to determine the best solution for the company’s needs.
This drive-range also supports pre-existing communication interfaces and software such as fieldbus, local control panels, and motion control tool MCT 10, meaning the brewery did not have to invest in a new parallel system as part of their upgrade.
This solution brought in a tremendous improvement, enabling seamless commissioning with consistent parameter settings. And so, with the power to gather more critical application data in real time than ever before, the brewery was able to optimise its production line while solving all its challenges and building a total value proposition.
In addition, our digital expertise enabled the company afterwards to retrofit the rest of its drives elsewhere in its facilities with condition-based monitoring functionality.
This upgrade shows that condition-based monitoring is no longer a premium product meant for a few critical assets, but an affordable solution available for all. Edge computing in drives ensures smart and simple condition-based monitoring. It seems that humankind has been brewing beer since the dawn of time, and through required experience and specialised application knowledge it is our proud intention to continue assisting this process to the highest standards of efficiency and quality control.