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Drive helps nearly double beer production capacity

28 May 2013

A new beer racking plant, supplied by brewery design company, Microdat, has increased capacity at a UK-based brewery to 300 firkins (9 gallon casks) per hour. The power transmission solutions were supplied by Lenze.

The increased efficiency has allowed the brewery to switch from two-shift to one-shift operation and still have two times the capacity.

The racking plant is a production line that takes in empty casks, cleans and fills them and then prepares them for despatch. Returned casks are fed into a process called deshiving where the old plugs are removed, then the casks are washed and dried.

The filling process, known as racking, uses accurate Microdat peristaltic pumps driven by geared motors. The full casks are then sealed and transported ready for despatch. The level of automation is such that only three operators are required to achieve a production level of 2,700 gallons per hour.

Power transmission equipment for drives and automation was required throughout the plant. The heart of the automation system, for example, consists of a network of five Lenze controllers, type 3200C, linked by Ethernet. One controller looks after each stage of the process. Plugged into the side of the 3200C controller are I/O modules from the Lenze System 1000. The drives are frequency inverters of the Lenze 8400 series.

EtherCAT was chosen as the common communication platform because it is fast and deterministic. The inverters have the option of Safe Torque Off so operators can per-form work on the plant such as cleaning without the need to power everything down. A variety of Lenze geared motors are used. In the case of the racking pumps, which have a high duty and need to deliver a precise volume, type GKR bevel gearboxes were used. These have 96% efficiency, low backlash and are virtually wear free.

The new cask racking plant was formally opened using an iPad through VNC technol-ogy. Microdat had installed a VNC (Virtual Network Computing) which allows platform independent remote control of mouse and keyboard with return relay of screen up-dates.

James Staughton, managing director of the brewery said: ‘’The opening of the new cask operation plant is a bold move, but will mean we will be able to consistently meet the demand for our range of award-winning ales now and in the years to come.’’

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