Flexi Soft© – the solution to brewery’s valve controllers 

SICK Automation Southern Africa recently provided a safety controller solution to the South Africa Breweries (SAB), whose relay controllers for the valves at its Rosslyn plant brewhouse kettle section had been discontinued. The relay controllers were experiencing intermittent breakdowns, exacerbated by the fact that the manufacturer no longer provided support or spares for the range. Further, there was no documentation or drawings for the existing controllers to the client’s application, rendering repair attempts futile. 

SICK installed the CE-certified SICK Flexi Soft safety-rated controllers as the relay solution. It offers fail-safe conditions, incorporates additional design modularity and allows for straightforward expansion and reduction. It increased control intuitively compared to the previous relay, and its programmable flexibility allows for customisation into any application. Flexi Soft resolved the control and monitoring function of the brew kettle valves and helped decrease wastage by optimising production processes and runtime. 

A unique achievement 

Reverse engineering the application facilitated Flexi Soft’s adaptability to the SAB-specific system, which resolved the challenge caused by lack of documentation. “Achieving this without electrical drawings and standard operation procedures was a unique achievement,” says Chris McDaniel, Engineer, SICK Southern Africa. SICK engineers also included an innovative button-controlling functionality, negating the need for SAB to update the controller via PLC. 

SAB’s brew kettles operate 24/7, barring scheduled weekend maintenance downtime. To ensure the brewer’s processes remained uninterrupted, SICK and SAB engineers alternated their work per kettle, conducting the installation during scheduled downtime only. “We worked in the short windows of opportunity provided during maintenance intervals,” McDaniel explains, “and still managed to complete the project in two months.” Additional product training for SABs engineers and operators forms part of SICK’s solution. 

“We’re a local supplier and we retain stock of all our controllers which is of benefit to our clients,” McDaniel concludes. “In addition to always having sufficient Flexi Soft stock on hand, our aftersales support accompanies all our solutions and is available 24/7.”

Functionality and configuration

The SICK Flexi Soft safety controller can be programmed via software. Through its modular hardware platform, it provides a tailored and efficient solution for numerous safety applications. It has a wide range of available modules, which include main modules, gateways, digital and analogue input/output modules, motion control modules and relay modules

The license-free Flexi Soft Designer configuration software enables intuitive programming, rapid commissioning, and continuous diagnostics down to the automation level. Functions to enable safe controller networking, safe series connection, or safe drive monitoring reduce costs and boost productivity. 

Flexi Soft at a glance

  • Safety controller with modular hardware platform
  • Configuration saved in the system plug
  • Safe controller networking with Flexi Line
  • Safe series connection with Flexi Loop
  • Safe drive monitoring
  • Safe analogue value monitoring
  • Flexi Soft Designer license-free configuration software

Website: http://www.sickautomation.co.za/

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