Tapping into retrofit knowledge!

It’s on tap: In Wiesel­burg in Aus­tria, for once this doesn’t apply to the beer – but to the know-how that Pilz shared with Brau Union to enable the brewery to upgrade an existing barrel cleaning and filling plant to the state of the art.

More than one mil­lion hec­tolitres of beer depart from the brewery in Wiesel­burg every year. Within the Heineken Group, Wiesel­burg is the site of Brau Union Öster­reich at which the most beers with 0.0 per­cent alcohol are pro­duced. In total, the brewery fills its prod­ucts into 130 dif­ferent types of pack­aging. For example, there is a sep­a­rate filling plant for the so-called BLADE kegs for 8 litre counter-top dis­pensers (see photo).

Automatically clean

“Safety first” is one of the prin­ci­ples of the ­Wiesel­burg brewery. It is imple­mented in a wide variety of areas in prac­tice – starting with the pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties and ranging to ergonomics at the work­sta­tion. In order to live up to this key com­pany objec­tive, the brewery strives to main­tain the state of the art, even if the Aus­trian indus­trial code or the Aus­trian Health and Safety at Work Act have not yet deter­mined any need for con­ver­sion.

In this vein, the retrofit of the barrel cleaning and filling plant for BLADE kegs was “vol­un­tary”: The plant removes beer residues from up to 700 kegs per hour, cleans them with an acid, rinses them sev­eral times with water, ster­ilises them and refills them under CO2 coun­ter­pres­sure. Using a con­veyor system, the empty bar­rels are fed to a filler carousel, are auto­mat­i­cally cleaned and are then trans­ported out via a roller con­veyor. The filling process is per­formed in the same manner. The carousel is also the core of the plant for this process.

Safety for Beer & Co.

The plant has been in oper­a­tion since 1993. As part of the plant con­trol system retrofit, inter­ven­tion options on the machine were to be re-assessed and val­i­dated, among other things. “There are up to 20 kegs in cir­cu­la­tion on the filler and even up to 24 kegs on the cleaner, which adds up to an impres­sive weight – espe­cially with 50 litre kegs,” explains Andreas Schmutz, Head of Plant Tech­nology in the Wiesel­burg brewery. Because the com­pany has already worked with Pilz on pre­vious projects, the Aus­trian brewer once again put its trust in the exper­tise of the automa­tion spe­cialist for this project: From con­sul­tancy on the cur­rent stan­dards that must be com­plied with, to a review of the existing safety equip­ment and E‑STOP chain, Pilz also analysed all poten­tial hazard sources. The rec­om­men­da­tions included appro­priate inter­locking devices and a tai­lored safety con­cept for the plant.

Andreas Schmutz,
Head of Plant Technology

“One always keeps learning, but if you don’t work with the safety com­po­nents that are avail­able on the market on a day-to-day basis while also keeping an eye on the var­ious devel­op­ments and laws, it is hard to stay up to date. That’s why we trust Pilz’s know-how and expe­ri­ence in this respect. The experts have detailed knowl­edge and think on
our behalf, just as we would expect from a reli­able and trust­worthy partner.”

Practicable too!

When it comes to safety aspects, the goal is often mas­tering the bal­ancing act between a safe and a prac­ti­cable solu­tion. This was also the case here. “The safest option would nat­u­rally be to enclose every­thing and lock it up, but that just doesn’t work in prac­tice,” states Andreas Schmutz, addressing the neces­sity of inter­ven­tion options for main­te­nance and repair pur­poses. On the barrel cleaning and filling plant, for example, it is impor­tant that part of the pro­tec­tive wall can be removed without much effort so that once a year an employee can advance with a fork­lift to the fluid dis­trib­utor in the centre for ser­vice oper­a­tions.

In order to meet this require­ment, the deci­sion was made to use mobile rail­ings. The solu­tion also includes a new access man­age­ment system. This makes sure that only the autho­rised oper­ator actu­ally has the oppor­tu­nity to acknowl­edge a fault that has been rec­ti­fied on the plant or to return the system to oper­a­tion – manip­u­la­tion or incor­rect oper­a­tion are hereby ruled out. Adding to this, the orig­inal light cur­tains were replaced by rail­ings. The pri­ority here was prefer­ably using safety devices that were already in stock for other machines to avoid an unnec­es­sarily com­pli­cated spare part man­age­ment.

Trust unites

Pilz’s con­sulting port­folio, from an analysis of poten­tial hazard points, including defined coun­ter­mea­sures, through to imple­men­ta­tion and safety-­re­lated val­i­da­tion in accor­dance with inter­na­tional safety direc­tives and stan­dards such as ISO 13849, IEC 62061 and IEC 61508, was prac­ti­cally fully utilised. Today, the plant meets all the cur­rent reg­u­la­tions with regard to Safety and thus ensures a “fluid” filling process.

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