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State-of-the-art dessert and yoghurt production plant uses Bürkert AirLINE pneumatic solution to bring control closer to the process

State-of-the-art dessert and yoghurt production plant uses Bürkert AirLINE pneumatic solution to bring control closer to the process Bürkert's stainless steel AirLINE Quick valve island solution has cut installation costs, improved operating integrity and is delivering ongoing economies in the control of up to 2000 pneumatic process components operating on a new dessert and yoghurt line installed by FrieslandCampina at its plant in Gutersloh, in the Westphalia region of Germany. The project, an early application for AirLINE Quick, demonstrates the many operating and cost saving advantages of the new smart system in strict hygienic environments characterised by harsh cleaning elements and water.

The project at Gutersloh was a collaboration between FrieslandCampina, Bürkert and the Stuttgart-based VA Group, which has been planning and installing processing equipment for the food industry since 1993. Previously, 300,000 litres of fresh milk were processed daily in Gutersloh for dessert and yoghurt products. This capacity has now been significantly increased by the construction of a new production building and the launch of a flexible production line for blancmange and yoghurt products, which was completely linked up by mid-2012, following the completion of no less than five parallel packaging lines.

In designing and installing the complex production line, consisting of a computer-controlled system with a branched network of stainless steel pipes, pumps, mixers, heaters and sterile tanks that can hold up to 12,000 litres, the Stuttgart plant engineers relied on Bürkert's compact Type 8640 system: "AirLINE Quick" valve islands installed in Rittal hygienic design (HD) enclosures. Almost 2,000 pneumatic process components are needed to precisely inject and help circulate the most diverse media in the highly complex system, in which an automatic "clean-in-place" (CIP) cleaning and disinfection system for all the piping and tanks is also integrated. Several tonnes of heavy pneumatic actuators are installed - equipped with initiators for optical status monitoring in huge pneumatic nodes. These are laid out so efficiently at the Gutersloh plant that they can be reached via walk-on metal catwalks for quick and easy servicing. The process valve nodes, which control the specific medium currently conveyed and in whi ch dosage - are controlled by a total of 42 HD enclosures, each with 24-station, IP65 rated, AirLINE Quick valve islands, including digital inputs for feedback.

In the configuration designed for FrieslandCampina, employing Profibus DP communications, the bulk of the pneumatic enclosures are lined up in rank and file order, very close to the valve nodes, and are thus installed right in the middle of the hygiene-sensitive process field.

"Where once 20, 30 or even 50 metres had been necessary, sometimes just five metres is enough to get from the enclosure to the actuator or sensor with this optimised installation," said Kai-Ulrich Seifer, Burkert's National Key Account for the Food and Beverage sector. "Cost reductions are further reinforced by the fact that the entire system is of "hygienic" construction. This, in turn, reduces the costs of the cleaning process."

"For us, pneumatic enclosures so close to the process took some getting used to - especially since we have always had to be careful in the past when cleaning" said dairy foreman Tim Borgstaedt, who as Deputy Head of the 'Preparation Department' with its 35 employees at FrieslandCampina in Gutersloh, is not only in charge of choosing the right ingredients and the appropriate product mix, but is also responsible for the absolutely vital hygiene. "We still find it a bit difficult to take when we aggressively wash down AirLINE Quick valve islands in HD enclosures with detergents and high-pressure cleaners. However, we realised a long time ago that these necessary cleaning procedures are always completed without problems."

Quick installation and the highest operational reliability are key advantages of the compact Type 8640 valve terminal, which is installed on a stainless steel mounting plate, and offers up to 24 three and five-way pneumatic functions. Thanks to its modular mounting and adapter plate, and tailor-made cut-outs, the ready-to-connect pneumatic block can be directly integrated into an enclosure base. This means that the number of connections in the enclosure is considerably reduced.

In addition, the fact that the external adapter for AirLINE Quick - including the hose connection technology - is manufactured from solid V2A stainless steel offers excellent resistance to aggressive cleaning agents, and also eliminates the requirement for pneumatic piping in enclosures. The use of stainless steel is crucial, because commercially available mounting plates made of aluminium start to 'bloom' after a certain number of cleaning cycles. By contrast, stainless steel has proven resistant to the most aggressive 'wash down' attacks - and in the long term remains without blemish.
 

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