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Twisted Vine brewery achieves consistent control with Unitronics Vision1040

11 August 2015

Twisted Vine Brewery creates unique, hand-crafted beers in Iowa.  Beer is a labour of love at this three-man operation, where they are dedicated to both the art and science of brewing.  The team needed a control system that would enable them to brew with meticulous attention to detail for a consistent, delicious end result. 

In order to produce their great craft beer, the team at Twisted Vine was searching for a robust and reliable controller. They needed to be able to monitor and control the fermentation temperature, to implement tools like the timers for tracking hop additions, and to monitors trends and outputs remotely.  They also wanted a control system that would expand easily as their business grows.

Of course, there were some limiting concerns. Everybody at Twisted Vine was a first time PLC user, so they needed a controller that was easy to learn and to configure.  They also wanted a feature-rich PLC and HMI that would provide a lot of functionality on a tight budget, while looking great when customers toured the facility.

Most importantly, as space in the brewery is very limited, the PLC would have to be mounted next to the mash tun. This mash tun is kept at 150 degrees Fahrenheit during the brewing process; at times the mash is rinsed in water as hot as 170 degrees Fahrenheit.  These conditions would require a PLC robust enough to be exposed to high temperatures and large amounts of steam and condensation without failing.

The Unitronics Vision1040™, paired with a V200-18-E3XB snap-in I/O module, was able to accommodate all these requirements with ease.  The Vision1040 controls a rotary phase converter, which powers a three-phase chiller, glycol pump and the glycol valves on the jacketed fermentation and conditioning tanks.  Using this system, the Twisted Vine team can also check temperature trends remotely, turning temperature loops on and off as needed from anywhere with internet access.  Additionally, with a NEMA4X/IP65 environment rating, the Vision1040™ was able to withstand the hot steamy conditions.

Not only did Unitronics provide a powerful PLC, according to co-owner Steven Becker, the all-in-one design and complimentary, single-environment software made the Vision1040 an intuitive and cost-effective choice for their operations.  “The free software and many online tutorials made it easy to learn and it was a low cost and powerful solution,” explains Becker.

In fact, Twisted Vine Brewery is already planning to expand their control system.  They are introducing water-use monitoring and valve control to control the amount of water in their mash, which will improve the consistency of the product and free up their attention from watching the water meter to more productive tasks.  Becker says, “my experience with Unitronics products has enabled me to produce systems that are more productive and user friendly … This system has kept our products at the optimum temperature while keeping our development and operating cost at their lowest.”

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