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Brewery gains flexibility, reduces downtime with gateway

Remote I/O-to-Ethernet gateway enables easy replacement of 27-year-old PLCs for a Wales brewery upgrading its yeast-handling control process.

Brains Brewery upgraded of its yeast-handling control process to a Rockwell Automation CompactLogix system and Ethernet connectivity. Source: Prosoft Technology
Brains Brewery upgraded of its yeast-handling control process to a Rockwell Automation CompactLogix system and Ethernet connectivity. Source: Prosoft Technology

One of the prominent beers in Great Britain is SA, manufactured by Brains Brewery in Cardiff, Wales. SA recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, and the company decided it was time to upgrade its overall yeast-handling control process. The brewery had been making beer for more than 130 years, and had been controlling its yeast-handling process with Rockwell Automation PLC2 controllers for the last 27 of those years.

Given how important yeast is to beer, Brains postponed the upgrade until after the busy Christmas season and sought every way possible to minimize the downtime needed for the upgrade.

Brains Brewery wanted to upgrade to Rockwell Automation CompactLogix controllers. Mike Cooper of IAC Engineering proposed using ProSoft Technology’s Remote I/O to Ethernet (AN-X2-DHRIO) gateway to allow the CompactLogix system to communicate with six racks of 1771 Remote I/O over Ethernet. Cooper had met ProSoft Technology Regional Sales Manager Myles Heinekey at a Rockwell Automation event in Birmingham, England and knew the gateway was a way the old 1771 I/O racks could be retained.

“The commissioning time was reduced massively because the existing Remote I/O cards and wiring could be retained,” Cooper says. “Only the processor and software needed to be added and commissioned, not the field wiring.”

With ProSoft Technology’s solution, Brains Brewery was able to reduce project costs by installing a CompactLogix system. “Without the gateway, a new I/O system would need to be added and wired in,” Cooper says.

ProSoft Technology’s solution didn’t just reduce the project cost—it reduced it by 40 percent in terms of the other option. One additional important benefit of the gateway is the system can use the 1771 Remote I/O cards with the CompactLogix processor. This means no additional spare I/O cards need to be carried, and none of the Remote I/O needed to be rewired.

The gateway brings the benefits of Ethernet into the plant, and enables future flexibility. “The ProSoft gateway gets the I/O data onto Ethernet, which means it then can be accessed from anywhere on the plant network at a higher speed,” Cooper says. In addition, “the different racks of I/O could be moved onto a network and controlled from different PLCs, if required.”

Reporting provided by Victor Garcia, Prosoft Technology


Brains Brewery

Founded in Wales in 1882, Brains makes ale to satisfy any beer connoisseur, from those who prefer unique craft varieties, such as Calypso and Bragging Rights, to those who like more traditional ales like SA. SA, whose tagline is, “It wouldn’t be Wales without SA,” recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Brains has a wide variety of other more traditional brews as well, including Brains Bitter, Brains Dark, and Brains Black. Brains also is famous for its many pubs.

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