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Siemens claims automation takes angst out of craft brewing

Inside the Saint Louis Brewery, home of the Schlafly beer brand (Picture: Siemens)
Inside the Saint Louis Brewery, home of the Schlafly beer brand (Picture: Siemens)

Siemens says process automation in breweries cuts out human error and boost product quality, especially in the craft sector and emerging markets where semi-skilled staff are common.

But why would a brewer invest to install a recipe-based control system such as Siemens’ Braumat 7.0 – slated for a global launch in 2014 – in terms of beer quality, time and money savings?

Where it updates a current Siemens system, Braumat 7.0 will feature recipe generation and control, allow operators to reproduce process flows and log batches, and automate material flow controls.

Saint Louis Brewery case study

A Siemens 2013 case study from the Saint Louis Brewery (see the video below) shows that the brewer achieved a 30% efficiency gain in terms of daily production of its Schlafly Beer brand after fitting a Braumat Compact system in 2013, and was better-placed to track quality issues.

“Without a recipe-based control system, someone has to open and close valves, switch on and off motors, take samples from the process vessels etc. manually,” Dirk Grafe, industry manager Brewery Automation at Siemens told BeverageDaily.com.

He noted that only a few operators are needed in a fully automated brewery – to man a control room – while data can be stored in archives to compare and adjust at a later date.

“The process is driven with comparable parameters. The possibilities for someone to make mistakes in steps like dosing, weighing etc. are all limited and will be further reduced by the control system,” Grafe said.

Clearly breweries can’t dispense with trained personnel, but increased ease of use for plant operators is a real focus area for Siemens.

“It’s very important – in particular in growth markets like Asia and Africa, as well as in the craft brewing scene, you will find by the majority semi-skilled people,” Grafe told this website.

“Every support a control system could deliver helps to avoid mistakes and maintain the efficiency of the facility as well as the quality of the product,” he added.

Craft brewing occupies a ‘special niche’

Grafe explained to BeverageDaily.com that nearly every brewery above a certain size uses process automation nowadays – from a simple Human Machine Interface (HMI) up to complete control systems including batch control, route control and interfaces to MIS.

Starting with PA 5100 in 1977, Siemens’ Braumat system has been continually updated since and is used in breweries worldwide.

“The biggest markets are the regions with the most new installations like the emerging markets in Asia, South America and Africa,” Grafe said, adding that Siemens’ systems were also used to modernize and revamp existing production capacity.

“The craft brewing segment is a special niche of the market where interesting potential exists for recipe-based systems,” he added.

“The focus right now is North America, but it seems probably that it will reach other markets as well.”

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