Editorial: Vessel Contents Storage, Processing Monitoring & Transfer

January 15, 2020

In Brewing, Food and Beverage, there is often a need to store various liquid products and carry out pre-delivery processing, in vessel processing or processing during a transfer. Brewology and its team of process engineers have extensive experience of many processes developed within brewing and cider making but now similarly applied to general food and beverage. In practice, the processes are often very similar to handling carbonated beers with delicate flavours which can be destroyed by poor processing.

 

The Brewology solution is to utilise modern technology, instrumentation and tried and tested software function blocks to provide a cost-effective standard solution assembled as integrated kits, delivered under the heading of “Fit, Plug & Play”. We have standard modules to suit most applications and can combine modules to meet the needs of most processing plants. Rather than commission a bespoke solution to meet your needs, why not investigate the option to link together well-developed standard solutions, saving valuable time, expense and the high risk of a bespoke system.

 

Vessel Preparation

This is key to most food and beverage storage and processing requirements, and often the initial enquiry comes to us as a CIP Set (Cleaning in Place) enquiry. We make and sell standard CIP Sets in a size range to suit most applications. These standard modular and multifunctional units often form the central hub of a factory process system for brewing, cider, food, beverage and pharma. It’s a common requirement to have a clean vessel, purged, pressurised and temperature controlled to store a liquid product.

 

Measuring and displaying the Vessels Contents

This is a key requirement of most production and stock control systems to know how much product you have received, transferred and have in stock. Thus metering and vessel contents monitoring are not just desirable functions to have, they become essential tools in the process. Fortunately, the development in modern instrumentation and networked solutions provides cost efficient solutions when matched to standard software function block and a Brewology Master Controller hub.

 

We specialise in Mag-Flow meters which are now commonly used in brewing and cider. These have radically changed and offer low cost solutions for volumetric metering of a conductive product. We can also supply other metering solutions via our partners for mass flow. Monitoring the contents of a vessel has also changed radically from traditional physical systems such as float switches, sight glasses etc. Today, the common solution is hydrostatic pressure via a very accurate and robust pressure transducer calibrated to read in volume, mass and even account for top pressure when the vessel is pressurised. Here again the technology has radically improved and the costs have dropped substantially to deliver cost effective solutions.

 

 

Vessel Contents Processing

We are used to many types of product processing in various vessels, such as simple chilling or heating. In brewing, we have standard systems for mashing, mash conversion extracting malt sugars, filtration extracting sugary worts from ground spent malt grist.

 

The transfer process from the whirlpool separator is then processed via a heat exchanger to recover the heat for the next mashing process, dropping the wort down to a suitable temperature for yeast pitching (blending cool wort with a yeast slurry). It’s also common place to oxygenate the wort to aid yeast growth and activity. After brewing, the sweet concentrated wort is then transferred via various vessels such as fermenters, maturation, bright vessels, sterile vessels and, finally, to racking buffer vessels to feed the various fillers (bottles, cans, bag in box, kegs and traditional casks). Temperature, pressure, oxygen and carbonation control then becomes an essential feature of brewing.

 

In non-brewing, we also come across many other forms of vessel contents processing such as seeding, blending, dosing, aeration, re-circulation and complex temperature control management profiles. In vessels where foam becomes an issue, we have solutions to manage the foam by dosing anti-foams and monitoring the height of the foam on top of the liquid.

 

 Beverage carbonation vessel

 

Transfers from Vessel to Vessel or out to Process

Just as it’s important to measure and monitor the delivery of product volume or mass to a vessel, it’s also important to monitor and record transfers, additions, losses and the final delivery of a product as a mass or volume flow, while ensuring it’s being delivered in prime condition at the correct flow rates, temperature, carbonation level, turbidity, conductivity etc.

 

Manual or Automated Transfers of Processing

With our instrumentation, contents monitoring and process solutions, it’s often a very simple step to move to semi-automated and fully automated solutions using the Brewology technology, and standard software function blocks. This could be by simply selecting a route and volume to transfer via the Master Controller’s touch screen or selecting a process and setting off to complete the task via a process step controller working to a preset recipe. With modern instrumentation, variable speed drives and networking technology, we are able to control the precise flow rates of products to blend by volume or mass flow to match a blending recipe or control the temperature of a process to much higher levels of accuracy than could be achieved by hand or expensive modulating valve units. We have various pump solutions and control systems available as standard packages to control existing pumps or new pumps. 

 

Process and Transfer Guardian

In any food and beverage system, it’s essential to keep records and ensure that each transfer or process is monitored and meets with the process parameters. In the Brewology Master Controller, the system logs and records all the key events, data and operations to ensure a record is kept which can then be transferred to an office-based management stock control system. This, again with modern technology, networks and data storage solutions, is easily achieved at relatively low costs from standard systems compared to typical bespoke systems from a few years previous.

 

Implementing a Typical Brewology “Fit, Plug & Play” Solution

The term “Fit, Plug and Play” is a description of the implementation events.

 

Fit - This refers to purchasing an appropriate kit and fitting it to the plant. A typical vessel may need liquid contents monitoring by volume or mass and this could be achieved by a modern pressure transducer fitted into the vessel. We supply the special mounting boss to be fitted into the vessel by the manufacturer or by local trades and then it’s a simple matter to fit the transducer.

 

Plug - This refers to our method of electrical connections between the sensor and the Master Controller. This uses modern networking and digital technology robustly engineered to match the food and beverage industry for washdown clean environments. All the connections are via plug in connections using special cables, plugs and sockets. No wiring, just plug it all together.

 

Play - This refers to our preferred method of commissioning using our remote support technology. When a site needs process support, this can be achieved with a process engineer on site working with the team while the software technician remains back in the Brewology remote support suite in Bradford. This is a much more cost effective way to utilise highly skilled and expensive engineers. Following the commissioning process, the remote support team is always ready to support the site via a call to Brewology using WhatsApp. Thus, we Play together using the internet and a smartphone.

 

A Brewology Standard CIP Set with its Master Controller 

 

If you're interested in our solutions, please feel free to talk to us. We have many interesting papers and examples of our unique solutions. These can be standalone systems where you purchase a wall mounted Master controller, which is a stainless steel panel housing the PLC, HMI (colour touch screen), available as a 7, 10 or 15 inch screen. The panel also houses a central power supply for the instruments, network distribution and the remote support access module which needs an internet connection. The other alternative is that the Master Controller on a Brewology machine such as a washer, filler or process machine can multitask and multifunction on your plant to operate numerous Fit, Plug & Play module and solutions. 

 

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