Rockwell Automation Brings SAB Maltings Into The Connected Enterprise

MILWAUKEE – Rockwell Automation recently supplied South African Breweries’ (SAB) first fully automated and networked EtherNet/IP-based control system for its new maltings plant in Alrode, South Africa. The new control system will integrate traditionally disparate, malt-production processes into a single, networked, EtherNet/IP-based solution to provide plantwide visibility and actionable data from the malting plant’s production floor to SAB’s top floor. The new maltings plant will account for more than half of the breweries’ South African and Namibian malt production when fully commissioned early in 2016.


In a move to support the local economy, the new maltings plant, situated next to the company’s existing brewery in Alrode, will increase local malt production from 60 to 90 percent, reducing the financial impact of imported malt. The plant will greatly enhance the production capabilities of its predecessor by increasing malt production from 42,000 to 150,000 tons per year.


SAB contacted Rockwell Automation to design a fully automated and networked EtherNet/IP solution for the maltings plant, a first for SAB. The solution Rockwell Automation implemented connects all data from the plant floor to the rest of the SAB enterprise, transforming the plant into a Connected Enterprise. “By converging operations technology and information technology, we enable SAB secure access to operational, business and transactional data to improve the malting plant’s supply-chain, economic and sustainable performance,” explained Adrian van Wyk, Rockwell Automation business manager for power and components in Johannesburg, South Africa.


All devices and processes within the plant are integrated in a single, secure network with dual-port, EtherNet/IP-based hardware connected in a device-level-ring (DLR) configuration. “This provides a strong, future-proof, technical solution with high-performance delivery and network resilience at the device layer,” commented van Wyk.


Controlled by Allen-Bradley ControlLogix controllers and Allen-Bradley Stratix industrial EtherNet/IP switches, the motor control centers comprise more than 500 E300 intelligent electronic overload control relays, 70 Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 750 AC drives, and 50 Allen-Bradley SMC Flex smart motor control soft starters for motor starting, stopping, control and protection with greater production efficiency.


To address the plant’s energy metering, energy consumption, load shedding and harmonics analysis, Rockwell Automation supplied a range of its Allen-Bradley PowerMonitor metering solutions. Technical partner, MSE, provided all packaged motor control centers distributed throughout the plant to reduce cabling costs.


“The new automated system gives SAB personnel plantwide control, from plant floor to executive level, via a single, secure and integrated EtherNet/IP network,” added van Wyk. “By enabling secure access to actionable, run-time production data, machine diagnostics and automatic fault-finding, SAB gains full visibility of the maltings plant, ultimately facilitating faster time-to-market, lower total cost of ownership, improved asset utilization and enterprise risk management.”


In order to keep the plant running nonstop, all motor control center, device-level hardware is equipped with the Rockwell Automation automatic device configuration (ADC) for automatic self-healing and configuring of replaced components. ADC, paired with the Rockwell Automation DLR network that ensures uninterrupted, real-time device communication, provides SAB with greater network resilience and reduces unplanned downtime.


“There is no part of the new plant that isn’t connected: Everything is networked on EtherNet/IP,” commented van Wyk. “We’ve used the very latest control and motor control technologies that are not only future-proof, but provide backward capability to ensure SAB’s operations are more productive and sustainable, and respond competitively to dynamic market demands on a global level.” 


Integration partner, Advansys, is responsible for the integration of all processes and control systems for the plant. Currently running at 70 percent capacity, the Alrode maltings plant is set to be fully commissioned early in 2016.

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