Efficient Plant July 2018 - 25
feature | plant profile
For a big operation with a small staff, the
Rivertown Brewery & Barrel House depends
on a smooth, remote process and advanced
data collection to keep things running
efficiently. "Brewing hasn't always been
this automated," Roeper said. "Maybe in a
[large-production facility] it is, but perhaps
not in a place making craft beer. It's not
difficult to maintain the equipment, but it
can be frustrating. Our equipment suppliers
have their systems dialed in, and they are
available to show up for service calls."
Rivertown gained a significant boost in
efficiency when it added an HMI (human-machine interface) to its brewing
operations. "Each piece of equipment and
each part of the process has its own automation incorporated to make things more
efficient," he said. "For example, our brew
house is the heart of everything. Everything
within it is connected to an HMI interface
so that we can control the entire process.
It's constantly monitoring and collecting
data. After brewing a batch, we can go
back through the process and see when a
valve was opened, what time that valve was
opened, what recipe was being brewed, and
how much water was used with each tank,
among other things. Everything ties into
one interface. Not only can the operator see
it, but we can all see it from afar. We can tap
into the system from anywhere in the world
and see what's going on."
Being able to see the finer details is critical, especially when something goes wrong.
"Let's say, for example, that the yield in
the product came up 200 gallons short,"
Roeper explained. "Before we had this
interface, we would just be scratching our
heads thinking, 'How did this happen?' We
can now go back through the system and
review the history of the batch to see when
the valves were opened. We can see where
perhaps an operator just missed something.
A lot of these recipes are very set in routine.
We make our base beers and they are consistent. But often, we make contract batches
for parties and there may be a change in the
recipe. The customer may want more water
added or fewer hops. It's not a programmable recipe, so there is room for human error.
We have guidelines and a set procedure, but
sometimes those things get missed. This
interface helps us identify where something
may have gone wrong."
Before installing the automated technology in 2017, there was nothing to monitor
the machine behavior. "In our old brew
house, we had a smaller system that was
operated manually," Roeper said. "We had
to open and close the valves manually. We
couldn't control the system from one plat-
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6/11/2018 8:34:18 AM