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Maintaining brewing excellence at Greene King

18 August 2011

Greene King’s engineering department selected Wonderware technology as its new standard. There were many reasons for this, such as its large installed base and significant functional benefits

For more than 200 years, the brewers of Greene King have been brewing fine ales in the heart of Suffolk, in historic Bury St Edmunds, where they have been making beer since the time of the Domesday Book.

They use the country's finest locally grown barley from the bread basket of England, malted just two miles from the brewery. Water is still drawn from the chalk aquifer beneath the brewery - the same Benjamin Greene and Frederick King used when they first started making beer 200 years ago.

However, Greene King has also to stay abreast of the times as they have many of the business challenges faced by other industries, addressing this they recently selected Wonderware InTouch and Historian for a complete refurbishment of their brewing and ancillary control systems.

It is crucial in modern brewery control that everything stays under control and everything is executed at the right time. To achieve this one requires reliable controllers and supervisory systems. Also the data within controllers can provide a rich source of manufacturing information. At Greene King it was decided that a phased upgrade of controllers and supervisory systems was required.

This was primarily because of an accruing business risk in their increasingly legacy systems combined with the need to make other improvements which would require more functionality. Modern manufacturing information and control is now usually undertaken on a modular, ‘object-driven’ basis, thus the selection of an appropriate solution was critical as one has to live with the decisions that are taken at the outset.

A plant-wide solution
Greene King’s engineering department selected Wonderware technology as its new standard. There were many reasons for this, such as its large installed base and significant functional benefits; however, it was its object oriented approach that made the difference by delivering sustainable engineering and operational advantages that benefit Greene King’s business.

InTouch is now in use throughout the brewing, fermentation and bottling operations and will in the next phase be deployed in the kegging and casking operations. As is often the case not all the requirements in the kegging and casking operations require complex functionality and here InTouchCE will be used which runs on low cost CE panels, alongside the full InTouch stations. This allows the site standard to be deployed cost effectively across the whole operation, regardless of complexity.

It is standardisation which has underpinned the successful use of Wonderware technology at Greene King. All systems there use a mix of InTouch and PLC objects (the latter being as standard function blocks at the Omron PLC level). This involves standard faceplates for valve control, inverters, PID loops and pump control. Doing this delivers engineering savings and design standards which ease maintenance and use when troubleshooting.

However, the broader business benefit is that all displays are now recognisably similar across the current 12 and later to be 17 InTouch systems, this allows operational staff to be deployed more flexibly across the business as they quickly feel familiar with the process interface.

Further, the standardisation of objects allows Greene King’s engineering department to specify work undertaken by external integrators to be better detailed and to meet with their requirements exactly. Roy Matchwick, Greene King Automation Engineering Manager, "Standard Wonderware objects and PLC function blocks allows the SI to have a detailed set of tools to undertake work; projects are undertaken faster and meet with the detail of the Greene King specification."

System reliability is vital the effective production and to achieving on time delivery in full. The new system obtains its tag information from a dual redundant tag server; this uses the latest Wonderware InTouch functionality to provide ease of setting this up and, more importantly, bump-less swop over should a problem occur.

The whole benefit of which is fundamental to the metrics of OEE and Schedule Adherence, measured by the principle KPI of ‘on time delivery in full’, these activities are undertaken at Greene King on a basis of Continuous Improvement.

This is a multi-stranded approach which involves the use of Wonderware Historian data from the plant being used to produce highly detailed trend displays to determine ‘what happened, how can we improve’ information through scripted reports. Historian is proving to provide reliable information in high fidelity, missing nothing that needs to be seen and working continuously as the plant runs, week in and week out.

Greene King utilises advanced scheduling software in its planning process, it is now working on the integration of this directly with production using the data within Wonderware Historian. Initially this will be done with scripting to demonstrate a ‘proof of concept’ – as was the case prior to installing Historian.

This approach ensures all involved parties can see planned extra functionality before allocation of budget and developing detailed requirements specifications. Initial requirements are for planning to be able to automatically take into account production realities and events and thereby make changes accordingly.

Roy Matchwick: "The integration of our systems will produce measurable and sustainable business benefits, Wonderware technology allows us to proceed with this confidently."

Greene King abstracts water from a chalk aquifer beneath the brewery; abstraction is metered to comply with the Environmental agency license. Brewery effluent is typically alkaline, this is neutralised initially with slightly acidic by-product and, when needed, this is supplemented by the controlled addition of acid, carefully monitored by InTouch and a record maintained in Historian, to ensure that Greene King’s environmental credentials are always high.

Summary: As Roy puts it, “Wonderware delivers consistency, product uniformity and repeatability, assisting us in getting it right first time.” However, it should not be assumed that the brewing process is now simply an automated process.

At Greene King the brewer can readily see what is happening by using various automation interfaces to all parts of the process, this allows the brewer make sure that all is well and that production is on target – and have time to constantly ensure that Greene King ales have the product uniformity and consistency that their customers expect, with a little help from Wonderware!

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