Drunk on success

United Distillers sells over 48 million cases of spirit in over 200 countries every year. The company’s Kilmarnock bottling plant, one of four in the UK, employs some 500 people and bottles Johnnie Walker, the world’s leading Scotch whiskey. Recent investments include two highly automated high speed bottling lines producing 300 bottles per minute.

A recent upgrade in the tanker unloading and whisky blending sections required nearly 800 solenoid valves located at many different points around the plant, to be brought under the control of a new automation system. An added complication was that around 250 of the valves would be in hazardous areas.

It was decided that a fieldbus based system would be desirable, partly because it would eliminate most of the wiring and partly because it offered flexibility in assigning individual valves to system addresses late in the commissioning process. Crouzet’s AS-i system was initially considered, but as the project plans developed, the sheer scale of the work indicated Profibus as the more logical choice.

Crouzet’s Profibus controlled pneumatic valve stations were eventually specified for a number of reasons. Firstly, the integral construction meant just one unit to install with pneumatic connections on one end and a fieldbus serial communications connector at the other. The Crouzet units provided some useful extra fieldbus addressable electrical inputs, still within the single chassis. Modularity also influenced the choice – in the Crouzet system, the modular valves are mounted quite independently, enabling any valve to be removed or another to be added without disturbing any of its neighbours, a big time saver for long term maintenance. Another factor was the tolerance of air impurities, as the Crouzet system required only filtration to 50um.

In the event, Crouzet supplied nearly 450 modular valves mounted on 44 Profibus DP controlled valve stations, plus over 250 intrinsically safe valves for use in the hazardous areas, all mounted in 72 custom made control cabinets.

Jack Francis, senior project engineer with United Distillers Engineering, commented: `Delivery of the first 30 cabinets was made in just four weeks, and the remainder followed shortly after, enabling the project to meet very demanding fast track timescales. Support from Crouzet was excellent, and the equipment has been trouble free.’

INFORMATION: CROUZET Tel: 01252 513211