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8th May 2017


• Siemens LOGO technology solution provides micro-brewery with low-cost and flexible access to automated control system efficiencies
• Hardknott Brewery and Siemens working to develop ideal temperature control solution for micro-brewing sector, as popularity of craft-brewed beers soars

Hand-crafted beer, produced by a growing number of micro-breweries across the UK, is rapidly gaining popularity with drinkers. Sector trade body, the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), reports that over 100 million pints of independent craft-brewed beer have been sold as beer consumers move away from mass-market products in favour of tastier alternatives.

Often running small-scale operations, but driven by a passion to create stunning craft beers, micro-brewery owners are intent on capitalising on many people’s preference for special beers that have been created with skill and enthusiasm.

Dave Bailey, founder of the Hardknott micro-brewery in Cumbria, is a prime example of someone with an entrepreneurial spirit who believes in developing the very best product he can so that others can enjoy premium ales such as ‘Azimuth‘ and ‘Intergalactic Space Hopper’ lovingly crafted by his brewery. Since establishing Hardknott in 2005, Dave and his small team have continued to develop, invest, innovate and drive forward their goal of producing stunning craft beers.

Now, with the help of Siemens technology, he is tackling a vital part of the brewing process – control of the fermentation process – so that it is more efficient and reliable going forward.

He explained: “Control of the fermentation temperature helps to considerably improve the quality and consistency of beer. It takes place over several days and on a practical basis the process cannot be watched continually. Temperature control systems can be expensive and complex to set up and micro-breweries tend to use fairly rudimentary on/off controls, or even manual ones, which by definition are not overly accurate. However, some sort of automatic temperature monitoring and control system is essential in my view.”

Searching for a cost-effective and usable solution, Dave began a dialogue with Siemens at the SIBA BeerX event in Sheffield. This led to a working relationship matching Siemens technology answers with the particular processing needs of the micro-brewery.

Dave continued: “It was clear to us that there was work to be done to find a suitable solution for the small-scale, independent brewing sector, that could overcome cost barriers and technical hurdles around automated temperature control. We have successfully used discrete controllers for the past five years, but an inability to integrate with other equipment easily, a lack of a logging facility and the rising cost of replacement units when failures occur, encouraged us to seek out an alternative solution. At this stage, I offered to investigate whether the proposed Siemens solution – LOGO; an intelligent logic module that is ideal for small-scale automation tasks – could provide the answers and support we needed to control the fermentation temperature process.”

With simple installation, minimum wiring and easy programming, the LOGO control system is perfectly suited for small automation projects, enabling the replacement of time switches and relays, counters and protective relays.

Dave was already aware of LOGO from using it to control a simple keg washing solution, and was pleased with its performance and potential. He was keen, with Siemens‘ help, to see if it could also be the basis of an automated control system that was appropriate, fit-for-purpose and cost effective for his fermentation control needs.

Temperature control of fermentation is a challenge, with tight control to a stability of around 0.1 degree being the desired target. Utilising the LOGO module, which offers a logging facility and trend display courtesy of a HMI screen, is now providing access for Dave to a far more intuitive set-up, as well as generating better information on which to base internal analysis of the controls and assess how stable the process actually is.

Dave said: “The specification of LOGO to control this central element of our brewing process has already proved to be beneficial as it offers cost effectiveness, flexibility, scalability and the potential to be seamlessly networked with other Siemens technology. There are areas that we will look to optimise, such as the system’s resistance thermometer detector resolution, and we will continue to work with Siemens in this area. However, my early impression is that we can eventually achieve the goal of developing the basis of a truly commercial solution that will be ideal for other micro-brewery operations.”

Sara Nichols for Siemens commented: “Siemens set out to continue its long-term association with the brewing industry by supporting the functional requirements and price points demanded by the new wave of passionate and innovative brewers who are hand crafting small batches of specialist beers. After talking and listening to these brewers, together we have developed a solution to support the control requirements for consistency and repeatability of the fermentation process, whilst delivering all the add-on functionality on their wish list of remote access, data logging and ‘app’ support at an affordable price.”

LOGO! 8 is the first of a new generation of successful Siemens logic modules, with on board SD memory support. It fulfils customer requests for easier handling, featuring a large display and full communication options via Ethernet. The web server application has also been simplified. Remote communication via the cellular wireless network rounds off the offer, enhancing the potential range of applications using LOGO.