Process Dynamics has a long history within the brewing industry. The company has completed a number of projects for SABMiller and when the company was bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABInBev) in 2015, the relationship continued to flourish.
Active in southern, eastern and some parts of western Africa, Process Dynamics has extensive experience in the challenges faced with African food and beverage plant automation projects. According to the company’s managing director, Kobus van Niekerk, one of the major problems in African countries is the ‘islands’ of automation found in most factories. This, he says, is caused mainly by budgetary constraints, tender award processes and the lack of future planning.
“Price is the main factor and tenders are awarded to the lowest bidder. Furthermore, there is no continuity and the end goal is not always kept in mind. All of this is exacerbated by an unstable or absent plant network infrastructure. There is also little, or no, integration of the various systems supplied by different contractors or suppliers, a practice that is mainly instituted to protect IP. Finally, it is extremely difficult to access data,” says Van Niekerk.
The food and beverage industry in Tanzania is very segregated, with automation in only certain sectors and a lack of a common standards hindering productivity. At the ABInBev plants in Tanzania there was no connectivity between the diverse systems and accessing spares was difficult, which made maintenance a major problem. Since there had been no upgrades and therefore no expansion, operations were negatively affected. “The motivation behind the proposed brewery upgrades was to standardise the business on one platform. This meant moving from legacy PLCs and scada systems to Siemens WinCC and then, once installed, upgrading to the Siemens TIA portal,” says Van Niekerk.
Process Dynamics was responsible for the phased upgrade of three ABInBev breweries in Tanzania. These upgrades were conducted at the syrup plant, racking skid, pre- and post-filter, BBT valve automation, ration blending and carbonation plants at Dar es Salaam between 2010 and 2015; the Unitank automation, glycol cooling/Redds/yeast plant; the Filler Line 2 at Arusha between 2012 and 2018; and the cellar automation, pre-filter, CIP station, and cellar automation phase 2 at Mwanza between 2012 and 2018.
Part of the upgrade project entailed installing a SIMATIC TIA V12 portal, installing a network infrastructure, migrating all PLCs and HMIs to TIA, as well as cellar automation on a new scada system at Mwanza and Dar es Salaam. In 2016 the Dar es Salaam plant was upgraded from SIMATIC TIA V12 to V13.
Van Niekerk says that when ABInBev took over SABMiller’s plants there was an order to standardise all global operations using the ABInBev Global Technical Standards, commonly referred to as GTS. The three Tanzanian plants were already aligned with these standards, thereby allowing operations to continue without further upgrades being required at the time. Standardisation provides ABInBev with a number of benefits, including faster deployment, shared benefit, improved support and consistent data.
“One of our biggest challenges was finding software to manage the expectation of outcomes and benefits. We had to convince the previous SABMiller brewery management in Tanzania of the benefits of the upgrade. Any upgrades in the future will be approved under the GTS standard and allow us to implement a common protocol driven by enhanced data gathering and a resultant increase in productivity. We have remote login capabilities to all three plants from South Africa, allowing us to assist with any process problems,” says Van Niekerk.
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