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As an application engineer with Henkel Australia, Rocco Mammoliti has held hundreds of LOCTITE maintenance and repair workshops for BSC customers over the years, but there was one such event that still brings a smile to his face every time he recalls it.
“One of the most memorable maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) workshops I’ve ever held was when I had just started working with Henkel a few years ago and I was invited by BSC to present an MRO workshop in the regional town of Koolunga in South Australia,” says Rocco.
“As I parked my mobile training truck at the local agricultural equipment store in this one-horse type town, I found that a crowd of 45 to 50 farmers had turned up for the day. As it happened, that day was very windy so the farmers could not spray their crops and had all decided to join the training, which was amazing because it gave me the opportunity to have great interactions with the farmers. I was also amazed at the farmers’ knowledge of the LOCTITE products. It eventually led to a great day of sales for the business that had invited me there.”
The MRO workshops, as BSC product manager Michael Rowe elaborates, are part of Henkel Australia’s support for the LOCTITE product distributors and end-users alike, wherein experts from Henkel review common failure causes and prevention methods within the relevant industry sector, offering guidance and product knowledge as needed.
“BSC can help organise these workshops for anyone interested to benefit from them. The ultimate goal here is to improve reliability and save time for BSC customers by increasing their knowledge of the products they sell or use.”
A full MRO workshop can take up to 3.5 hours, but Rocco says the Henkel team can also offer condensed versions, introducing the full range of the LOCTITE MRO products from threadlockers to thread sealants, gasket sealants, retaining compounds and instant adhesives. The Henkel team also has the capability of delivering virtual MRO workshops by using advanced online video conferencing tools and have been executing these with great success. This ensures that every customer is looked after and receives the support they need.
“What we often find in these workshops is that the product users, such as the farmers and maintenance specialists, have a fair knowledge of the products they are using. They just need some guidance around the applications,” says Rocco. “We help them understand why and how a product hasn’t worked for their specific application, which is often because the wrong product has been used. It also gives us an opportunity to introduce the latest improvements in the LOCTITE product range.”
While on the topic of improvements in the LOCTITE anaerobic range, Rocco mentions the new global packaging adopted by LOCTITE this year.
“The change in packaging started as an exercise to verify the authenticity of our product range, so customers could be sure their product was not counterfeit. But it became an opportunity to include more product detail and information for customers. By scanning the QR code, customers will have access to the online portal where there is technical data, as well as how-to videos and a mobile product selector guide,” says Rocco.
“We have also recently introduced the LOCTITE 518 Gasket Maker Pen, which makes the job of gasketing metal surfaces, including the disassembled transfer cases on tractors, so much easier for the farmers.”
As a company, Rocco says LOCTITE is constantly improving the formulation of its products. He uses the example of the LOCTITE Instant Adhesive – popularly known as the Super Glue – to demonstrate this.
“When LOCTITE bought the Super Glue technology from Eastman Kodak back in the 1960s, the maximum temperature tolerance of the product was around 70 degrees Celsius. LOCTITE improved that so that now, the LOCTITE Instant Adhesive can withstand temperatures as high as 120 degrees Celsius. Similar technology advancements have been implemented across the entire product range, making them better year after year.”
Back in context, Rocco says the LOCTITE MRO workshops further offer an opportunity for LOCTITE to understand the needs of its customers better.
“As they say, we learn something new every day and what better way to learn than by listening to our customers?”
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If there is one thing that a brewery needs it is reliable field devices when it comes to measurement and control systems. Making beer is a fine art, and that is something that is not lost on fluid control system specialist Bürkert.
At a recent installation in Germany, Bürkert’s products were installed to help with the automation of a brewery. It was an interesting case study on how modernising a brewery can not only help streamline processes, but also provides an insight on what it takes to upgrade plant and machinery.
Based in the German state of Bavaria, the pilot brewery of Weihenstephan’s research centre for brewery and food quality has existed in one form or another for centuries. In its current state, automated flowmeters, process control valves, solenoid valves, pneumatic actuators and “smart” valve islands make manual adjustments of plant and machinery unnecessary. This not only saves time, but also enables monitoring of the recipes developed or tested here possible at any time. The control system is kept so simple that the master brewer can create, operate and modify recipes from a PC using an Excel spreadsheet.
Where beer is reinvented every day
The pilot brewery enables the creation of pilot brews for all kinds of beer, fermented malt drinks and mixtures. Pilot brews are prepared both in the name of research and on the basis of orders, ultimately resulting in drinks for consumption. This process starts with the mashing, brewing and fermentation processes through to the testing of suitable yeasts, microorganisms, ripening processes and filtration capabilities.
The desire for greater process quality
The pilot brewery has an output of 50 litres of wort and a capacity of nine fermentation tanks capable of holding 60 litres each. Beyond that, the brewhouse and the lautering process of the “mini brewery” are no different from those of a larger facility.
Until now, most things were adjusted manually. This applied to the control valves in the water intake for mashing and sparging, through to the control valves for the lautered wort and to the pump used to drain the wort tank or to adjust the height of the rake arms. There was no scaling here and the rake motor always ran at the same speed.
To achieve a better basis for future research work, those responsible at the research centre decided it was time to modernise the plant automation. However, the decision-makers felt it was important to be able to intervene in the system at any time, even after its modernisation.
The small brewery picked a competent partner that has developed multibrauplus, an automation solution specifically tailored to small and medium-sized breweries. Based on a Simatic S7 from Siemens and graphical visualisation, all the functions – from malt storage bins to fermentation cellar – could be automated. Despite this, the brewers were still left with sufficient leeway to take decisions, since Excel was deliberately chosen as the dialogue medium with the process control system.
The “programming” activities are limited to filling out a standard text list, which was then interpreted by the process control. The monitors, calculations and control functions included in the commands were managed by the process control alone.
From control valve to flowmeter
However, process control alone does not make automation possible; since automatic control valves, flowmeters and pneumatic actuators are required to automate existing manual valves. As a fluidic system expert, Bürkert, supplied and installed the required hardware for the fluidic systems, handled the installation of the wiring and hoses, and supported start-up.
The range of applied fluidic components covered the process control valve used for the steam needed to heat the mashing and wort tank, the temperature controller on the wort cooler, various flowmeters and a valve island mounted in the control cabinet that is used to control all of the valves installed in the process. The height of the rake arms of the lauter tun was also adjusted automatically using a solenoid valve. The existing flap valves were overhauled and equipped with pneumatic actuators. Furthermore, there was also a brewing water storage tank in which the water could be precisely blended using a modular blending unit.
Valve island as an automation system
The entire pneumatic system was controlled by a valve island. This was directly installed and shipped in a stainless steel, hygienically designed control cabinet with the stainless-steel control AirLINE Quick base plate to save space.
The stainless-steel control cabinet was well suited to the small pilot brewery. All of the valves also had a P-channel shut-off mechanism, which meant they could be switched out even while the machine was in operation without shutting it down.
A worthwhile investment
For the pilot brewery, the investment in cutting-edge automation technology has paid off. A high degree of reproducibility and traceability was simple with this solution, as data acquisition was integrated into the control system. Product-specific information could be displayed graphically along with other measured values. Thanks to the partnership, the system was prepared for start-up quickly and easily.
With Australian breweries sprouting up at a rate of almost one every two months, it is important to know that these types of upgrades are also available for small- to medium-sized Australian breweries. Bürkert’s Pacific sales manager, Tom Kirby, has been with the company for 16 years and he said the company is geared up to help breweries upgrade. And he knows it’s not just about the field devices supplied.
“We try and design a support and an automation package that caters for a small to large applications or requirements,” he said. “The key for an individual brewery is to directly align our solution to their particular business model that is, using their longer-term vision to define what their requirements should be, while still maintaining their unique identity and their own personal craftsmanship.”
Plant reliability helps provide uniformity and consistency for each and every batch.
“What needs to be taken into consideration is the dedication to their brand, their brew and varieties that they are trying to produce, making sure you get the same consistency in taste – batch after batch,” said Kirby. “I also think it is a situation where it comes down to the marketability of the product. You want to be able to show that what you are doing with your product is a bit special.”
Kirby is also clear on how he sees the relationship between his company and potential clients.
“Bürkert is solution orientated, with those businesses ready to automate their processes,” he said. “Bürkert’s approach is to look beyond a single project with a client. It is partnership for us. We believe in a joint venture approach in identifying the correct solution needed, customised to each application. That’s what makes Bürkert unique.”
An Australian online wholefood store is upping the ante on reducing its carbon footprint by moving to compostable packaging made from 100 per cent vegetable material.
Lismore-based Affordable Wholefoods sells quality bulk organic, non-organic and gluten free wholefoods in resealable, reusable packaging but wanted to offer a more environmentally friendly option.
Mark Evans, owner of Affordable Wholefoods, said customers are happy with the current option, “But we wanted to give them a choice. More people are looking for ways to reduce waste. That is why we are seeing people move towards reusable and compostable packaging,” he said.
“Since we opened in 2008, we have been searching for a more eco-friendly packaging option. But nothing we tested made the grade. Our packaging needs keep the products fresh from the time of packaging to delivery. With many of our customers in rural and remote areas, that’s important.”
Evans and his team’s search lead them NatureFlex; based on cellulose, which is one of the most naturally abundant organic materials derived from renewable resources such as wood pulp from managed plantations.
“We heard great things about its ability to keep items fresh, which was exactly what we were looking for. Being 100 per cent home compostable, now that was speaking our language,” Mark said.
Affordable Wholefoods did not rush the packaging to market. “We tested it over and over, sending parcels to ourselves and back again to see how well the food travelled,” Evans said. “The results were spectacular. Every single time, the wholefoods arrived fresh.
“This is another way we commit to sustainability. Whether our customers use our soft zip lock bags that can be reused repeatedly for food storage or the new NatureFlex bags, which can be disposed of in worm farms, green recycling bins or home composting systems, it’s another step towards reducing plastic, which is important for the environment.”