While our taste for beer has not changed since humans discovered it over 5,000 years ago, a microbrewery has invested in modern automation technology to change its brewing process. Carbon dioxide (CO2) plays an important role throughout the beer making process. Initially, it is produced during fermentation while it is usually discharged as a by-product. Later in the process, brewers use the gas to purge the bottles and force the beer to carbonate during bottling to preserve its flavor.
Too much pressure chars the beer too much, making it difficult to serve properly and create a bad experience for consumers. Too little carbonation can reduce the number of air bubbles that trap the aroma, an important part of the craft beer experience. Low carbonation can also make the beer flat, ruining the whole batch.
One of the largest microbreweries in Quebec had relied on a fully manual process to manage the 25 CO2 cylinders used in its brewing process. We will keep this unnamed brewery, as this article is for analytical purposes only. The manual process used by this Quebec brewery created inefficiencies that cost time and money as well as impacting safety. For example, the brewery team could not accurately determine when a bottle was empty, so they had to estimate when to switch to new vats. Changing them too soon resulted in wasted CO2. Changing them too late could damage the batch with under-carbonation.
In addition, the gas cylinders were stored on site, taking up valuable floor space and creating the potential safety risks associated with the storage of more than two dozen gas cylinders. Employees had to physically move tanks, each weighing about 100 lbs, to change them three to four times a week.
The search for the right components
The microbrewery contacted Beauce Technology, a Quebec-based company that specializes in the design and installation of gas manifold systems. Jimmy Roy, vice-president of Beauce, said he worked with the brewery to design a gas distribution system manifold that offers more efficiency and control than the manual system. As Beauce began to develop a solution, the team encountered challenges, including pressure regulators that were not functioning properly and solenoid valves unable to handle the high flow capacity. Components had to be found that would not only solve individual problems, but also work together to create an effective system.
La Beauce was looking for the right solution when it met a team of Emerson Automation Solutions during a conference organized by the Association des microbrasseries du Québec. After learning more about the challenges of Beauce, the Emerson team recommended TESCOM SG3 Series Single Stage Regulator, which is suitable for high purity applications.
“This regulator solved many flow and pressure control problems. We tested it and it worked perfectly, ”said Roy. The regulator also offered regulating precision and repeatability for the high level of precision control required by the brewery.
As an integrated solution provider, Emerson was also able to recommend a solenoid valve solution from its broad automation portfolio: the ASCO 291 Compressed Natural Gas Valve. The value is specifically designed for compressed natural gas applications that require the ability to handle pressure greater than 5,000 psi. Its wide pressure range makes it well suited for a brewery application.
The valve would allow the new system to withstand a high flow capacity as well as an expected pressure range of 200 to 5,000 psi.
Emerson’s 291 valve features a low-maintenance PEEK piston and durable operation in a compact design. Its stainless steel construction also makes it ideal for applications in the food industry.
Go from manual to automation
With the critical components in place, the Beauce could integrate the regulator and valve into the designed electronic control system. Control system maximizes CO2
while eliminating the downtime associated with manual failovers. When the cylinder pressure drops to a predetermined level, the automated system closes the valve on the vacuum side and opens the valve on the other side. The opening speed of the valve can be controlled to avoid system shutdowns, which Roy says can be a challenge in a distribution system regulating high flow applications.
“But when we use Emerson’s ASCO 291 solenoid valve on the TESCOM SG3 regulator, together they can handle the high flow,” he said.
In addition to automating gas delivery, the electronic control system gave the brewery an easy way to access information about the system that it did not previously have. The secure control system, based on a Linux operating system, provides real-time and historical line pressure data. Beauce’s design also incorporates a personalized touchscreen interface and a mobile-friendly dashboard.
Deliver fast results and encourage automation
Investment in brewery automation quickly reduced production inefficiencies caused by the use of manual processes and lack of actionable information. The increase in efficiency reduced the number of cylinders needed from 25 to 10. The reduction by more than half of the use of cylinders has reduced manual labor and the risk of occupational accidents that cause it. accompanied. It also reduced the costs of labor, transportation and storage.
Quebec brewery can now monitor CO2 which saves him time and money and makes more informed production decisions. Additionally, the system offers scalability, making it suitable for breweries of virtually any size.
Roy said: “The app is perfect for a small brewery as it can handle as many bottles as needed, giving them flexibility as they grow. ”
Since the implementation, the company considers that its CO more efficient2
using and increasing production saves nearly $ 17,000 per year on gas usage costs, a reduction of 42% compared to the non-automated system. In addition, the transition to automated gas distribution saves the brewery close to $ 4,000 per year in productivity costs.
They’ve gone from doing everything manually with little control or insight to an automated solution that maximizes resources, saves money, reduces manpower, increases security, and delivers real-time data. It really simplifies the microbrewing process.
Naresh Kumar is the Director of Product Marketing for Emerson Automation Solutions.