A sound platform

Jan 11, 2013 | Food Processing & Packaging

When potato producer Branston recognised the need to reduce its water consumption, it took the decision to implement a water recycling system. The resultant MBR system is monitored using   System Platform technology from Invensys Wonderware

Branston proudly says that “Potatoes are our business” and has been in the supply of high quality potatoes since 1968. One of three sites in the UK, the South West site near Ilminster, is using a new method of water treatment to produce both operational savings and deliver enhanced environmental credentials. The project was undertaken by MSE Systems in conjunction with InControl Systems using manufacturing automation software products from Invensys Wonderware.

On the face of it, cleaning and packaging potatoes for retail sale is a simple operation. However, water usage has significant economic and environmental issues, and water is needed in large volumes to process potatoes. Branston knew that its water usage needed to be improved, not only for their own benefit but for the stringent requirements of supplying a major retailer.

Branston has a borehole on site, with water abstraction undertaken with a regulated license from the Environmental agency. Mains water is also available, but with some supply restrictions. Branston needed a safe method to recycle the water rather than continuously drawing water, and contacted MSE Systems, who supplied a Membrane BioReactor (MBR) water treatment plant. MBRs combine activated sludge treatment with a membrane liquid-solid separation process. The membrane component uses low pressure microfiltration and eliminates the need for conventional clarification techniques and tertiary filtration.

The process of recycling the washing water is complex and involves several filtering and treatment processes. Branston has laboratory equipment to monitor the system and to analyse the water which confirms environmental compliance and provides data to operate the plant. Up to 90% of water at the South West site is now recycled, with any waste being safe to return to the public system.

The control and automation of the plant was undertaken by InControl Systems, using Invensys Wonderware technology. The Seavington site was already using Wonderware InTouch SCADA and data collection, with PLC control using a Rockwell CompactLogix. The automation system had 25 closed loops and 50 analogue monitoring points. The InTouch SCADA which visualises the entire system was used in plant tuning as well as continuous monitoring of plant operation. However, this system was already applied at the Lincoln site so the South West site was integrated to the county-wide automation architecture which uses a centralised system (located at InControl Systems), so IT infrastructure requirement is kept to a minimum at ‘client sites’.

MSE Systems knew that their MBR water treatment installations would require monitoring for optimum performance and in particular to ensure that the membrane filter system was running to specification. This requirement, as well as numerous other monitoring and remote access requirements, was integrated by InControl Systems to produce the ‘MyMSE’ Server Architecture. MyMSE is based upon ArchestrA System Platform technology which has allowed master objects to be developed for such applications. In use, these  objects are simply deployed repeatedly to produce the particular application. 

The centralised system provides historisation of data from all sites using Wonderware Historian and subsequent information dissemination by Wonderware Information Server, access control which is managed by Microsoft Active Directory. Detailed trend displays are available to all users, centrally, at client site, and remotely via ‘zero-touch’ web browsers. The trends offer insight to the process and can be  used for process tuning and on-going monitoring. The centralised/client site architecture, and remote access to the plant, is said to have reduced engineering call-outs by 90%, with Branston effectively running the plant itself.

The use of ArchestrA System Platform creates a library of tested master template objects which are held centrally within the ‘System Platform Galaxy Repository’. Instances of these templates are deployed to each site as required. Additional clients and their site deployment are thus readily facilitated. A further development of the core central system will allow extended Geo-SCADA functionality. This will display each client site on a map with an instant indication of status and of any alarms, ensuring any problems are dealt with immediately.

Jan Hemper, InControl Systems, said: “ArchestrA System Platform was the ideal solution for this geographically spread project owing to its functionality and also to its efficiency in application development engineering.”

Remote access information has been augmented by the use of advanced diagnostics developed by InControl which utilise Wonderware Information Server ‘Web Parts’ in conjunction with Microsoft SharePoint. This allows authorised users to automatically obtain their selected reports by email. The system also records use of the site’s borehole water abstraction to ensure that the site is within their Environmental Agency’s license.

The project was overseen by Branston’s development project manager, Heiko Gramsch, who said the system met with all requirements and that it delivered significant business benefits in utility saving, in meeting retailer’s environmental expectations and in the smooth running of the site.

Invensys Wonderware