Supervising tanks for Veuve Clicquot

06 May 2014

Champagne house Veuve Clicquot now has a smart system that supervises fermentation in 400 fermentation tanks which store its champagne.

In 2012, the company updated its fermentation cellar supervision system. The fermentation cellars are where the house makes its wine from harvested and pressed grapes. 

Supervising the tanks in which alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place is crucial. However, the software being used was at the end of its life and was no longer supported, making it necessary for the company to replace its 10-year-old supervision system. "We needed to replace it with a lasting solution that would be supported for many years to come," explained Franck Berruyer, sales engineer at Arc Informatique, the company behind the PcVue supervision system installed at Veuve Clicquot. "In addition to various technical factors, we chose the PcVue 10 software suite because of the relationship of trust we have maintained with Arc Informatique and because the cost of the licences is economically suited to Veuve Clicquot's needs," says St├ęphane Fournier, manager of SF2I, the company that developed and integrated the supervision software.  

Another advantage of PcVue is that it has the same HMI as the previous software, meaning that the operators were able to use PcVue immediately. Furthermore, Guy Jendryka, manager of the electricity, automation and industrial computing department at Veuve Clicquot, stresses that one of PcVue's strengths is that it is easy to adjust and program. "With the previous system, you really had to be an IT specialist to be able to upgrade the software. PcVue is much easier to modify as needed."

The development architecture is based on PcVue objects and greatly facilitated the supervision software's design. Because Veuve Clicquot's fermentation cellars contain 400 tanks of various types and volumes the developers had to be able to use models so as to reduce programming, and hence maintenance times. Depending on their type, the tanks are fitted with up to three temperature-control sensors and manual or automatic valves. The application manages some 40 variables per tank. "The object development architecture saves time and simplifies operations. Once the model was made for the dozen existing tank models, it was simply a matter of instantiating the objects and automatically generating the communication variables," explained Fournier.

With its virtual architecture, PcVue runs on a server that installed in a secure, air-conditioned and filtered room protected from the damp. The fact that the software is decoupled from the hardware means that reinstallation and commissioning times in the event of failure are considerably reduced.

The operators control the PcVue supervision software via a touch screen installed at the entrance to the fermentation cellars.

Five web-based clients allow the cellar managers to view the supervision system and select its setpoints via their PC. Operators can also monitor and control the software via a touch screen installed in the lobby and within view of all visitors. The software communicates with the PLCs over a Modbus TCP/IP network while a VPN (virtual private network) link is used to collect information from the tanks in the house's other fermentation cellars.

Fourteen fermentation modules are housed in the main cellar in Reims and four others are located in various towns across the Champagne vineyard at distances of up to 200km from the main cellar. "Being able to supervise all our fermentation cellars from one place eliminates the need to drive to each cellar. The supervision system issues an alert if a serious temperature control issue crops up," said Fournier. It is now possible to monitor all the tanks from a desktop PC. "PcVue supervisor has made our fermentation cellars smart. We can monitor every aspect of temperature control from just one place."

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