CC-Link network supports automation of winemaking

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CC-Link is helping a Ukrainian winemaker to expand production through the efficient, robust and scalable automation of various critical processes.

CC-Link network supports automation of winemakingA Ukrainian winemaker is using CC-Link to help automate and expand the production of its wines and spirits. With domestic consumption booming, and export markets opening up, the Shabo vineyard in the Odessa region is combining high technology with the delicate art of fine wine production.

In 2004 the winery was completely converted with modern European equipment, which has been combined with ancient cellars and wine storage with the objective of producing wines and brandies as fine as any within the last 200 years.

An ongoing programme of investment has seen the creation of full-cycle production: from cultivation of grapes, through storage and seasoning to bottling, as well as distillation for spirits and mixing for vermouth. Currently it has capacity to process 20,000 tons of grapes in a season, producing up to 45million bottles of wine and 25million bottles of brandy, using the delicate 'cold bottling' method.

All stages of Shabo wine production are focussed on preserving the grapes' taste, colour and aroma in the wine. Harvesting is therefore by hand, allowing the selection of the best. Then the grapes are subjected to the various processes of winemaking, maturing blending and bottling.

New automation

However the viticulturists at Shabo are keen to embrace the most modern automation technologies to ensure their increasing production is both efficient and quality-focussed. In October 2011, for instance, they installed a high-technology system to maintain preset temperatures in both the production and maturing areas, and also to measure the level of wine in the holding tanks. As well as this, the new system monitors the pumping activities of the refrigeration stations and coolant temperature. This automates a previously manual task that was time consuming and required considerable concentration to ensure accurate recording and thorough analysis.

The opportunity was also taken to integrate several processes that were already individually automated into one unified system. For data signaling and communication around the system CC-Link was chosen because of its ability to communicate easily with devices from a wide range of manufacturers. It was also noted that CC-Link can be quickly installed and is highly reliable; these two points meant that disruption to production would be minimised.

The architecture of the system is based on a supervisory level computer equipped with twin monitors and operator panels running a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) program. This is supported by a production management control system based on five PLCs (programmable logic controllers), communicating via two CC-Link networks.

These networks collect and process data from numerous process floor sensors monitoring temperature, humidity, tank levels and valve settings. In total there are 256 analog and digital inputs and 152 outputs (all digital) in the CC-Link system. And it is planned that the system will be regularly expanded in stages over the coming years.

One of the key advantages of CC-Link in this situation is that if a section of the system is taken off-line, the data signals will automatically re-route themselves so that overall control is never lost. Similarly, the system can be expanded simply by plugging new devices or sub-systems into the existing wiring; signal routing is instantly and automatically optimised and communications are never interrupted.

The winemakers already have plans to increase the number of holding tanks fitted with monitoring sensors and automated pumping stations as production is increased in order to meet growing demand.

13 December 2011

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