Serviceline Industrial Sensors
Serviceline Explosion Protection

Monitoring and Control of Field Devices in Whiskey Distillery with Remote I/O and FieldConnex® Fieldbus

Many of the existing Scottish whiskey distilleries were built in the 18th century and need to update their automation systems according to current laws and regulations for explosion protection.

The application

Whiskey production involves multiple procedures carried out in potentially hazardous atmospheres. This involves Zone 2 dust and gas hazards in gristmills, mash tuns, and pot stills. These processes must be properly protected.

Many of the operating whiskey distilleries were built in the 18th century, so plant operators invest in state-of-the-art automation systems for greater efficiency and compliance with current laws and regulations. One of Scotland’s leading distilling groups recently updated its PLC platform and signal transmission systems.

The goal

Whiskey distilleries process extremely valuable raw materials and finished products. Precise measurements and accurate transmission of measurement data is crucial. Signals were previously transmitted via standard PLC I/O cards and multicore cables. Within the scope of the control technology update, the signal transmission system was updated.

The solution

LB Remote I/O System connects sensors and actuators to the DCS via PROFIBUS.
LB Remote I/O System connects sensors and actuators to the DCS via PROFIBUS.

For the connection of control valves in the still house, a Zone 2 certified LB system from Pepperl+Fuchs is used in the distillation process. Depending on the distillery size and the number of stills, up to 200 control valves may be necessary for the distillation process.

PROFIBUS PA is applied for all measuring field instruments such as level, pressure, flow, and temperature measurement. The high-precision digital transmission of PROFIBUS PA via FieldConnex fulfills the requirement of precise measurements and accurate signal transmission.

The FieldConnex PROFIBUS Power Hubs in the control room feed field-mounted segment protectors, which reduces wiring costs while ensuring diagnostic information is easily accessible. The configuration is done via GSD files, allowing all measurements to be displayed in the control room with digital precision. Remote configuration, alarms and diagnostics from field instruments are transmitted to the maintenance system via PROFIBUS PA, enabling users to proactively review plant performance. In order to avoid information overload or alarm flooding, the data is routed two ways, with only measurement values reaching the plant operators. Maintenance technicians and staff have full access to all other data, allowing them to keep the plant’s processes functioning at a high performance level.

The benefits

PROFIBUS Power Hub connects and powers field instrumentation with PROFIBUS PA.
PROFIBUS Power Hub connects and powers field instrumentation with PROFIBUS PA.

Before using Remote I/O installed in a stainless steel housing, the valves operated point–to-point via the PLC I/O cards. Installing the LB System in Zone 2 reduces wiring and installation complexity significantly, and has a smaller PLC footprint. Integrated LEDs allow each channel to be easily viewed, allowing easy maintenance. In addition, the operator of the Scottish distillery highly values the remote access to configuration and diagnostic data of the instrumentation.

The whiskey distillery’s Chief Process Engineer identified PROFIBUS DP, PROFIBUS PA, and the digital infrastructure by Pepperl+Fuchs as a cost-effective method for minimizing maintenance and repairs, while fulfilling the demands of high production levels.

Using both Remote I/O system for digital signals and Fieldbus for analog signals offers the perfect solution. It is easy to maintain by on-site technicians. With occasional assistance from Pepperl+Fuchs’ technical support engineers, commissioning and set-up is straightforward, saving both time and money.

Application at a glance

  • Re-routing of control commands to valves with Remote I/O system via PROFIBUS DP
  • Reliable and precise signal transmission of level, pressure, flow, and temperature with FieldConnex and PROFIBUS PA


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The new LB/FB PROFINET gateways from Pepperl+Fuchs open the door for IIoT 4.0 applications in process industries.