Roll out the bar­rel and spot the poi­son

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - FOOD PROCESSING -

A Flir Sys­tems in­frared cam­era watches over the bot­tling of the world-fa­mous Erdinger wheat beer in Ger­many.

Erdinger Weiss­bräu is one of the coun­try’s largest and most suc­cess­ful pri­vate brew­eries. The Mu­nich-based brew­ery ex­ports its spe­cialty beers to more than 70 coun­tries. Erdinger brews its beers only in its plant in Erd­ing, six days a week around the clock, and with­out ever de­vi­at­ing from its stan­dard process.

Erdinger is known for its strict qual­ity pol­icy and its con­sis­tent brand aware­ness. Its pro­duc­tion pro­cesses, from se­lec­tion and ac­cep­tance of raw ma­te­ri­als to fill­ing and ma­tur­ing, are strictly mon­i­tored. Con­se­quently, Erdinger Weiss­bräu main­tains a per­ma­nent chain of se­cu­rity con­trols for its keg fill­ing and pack­ing process.

How­ever, sim­u­la­tion and risk anal­y­sis have shown that no mat­ter how care­ful the pro­duc­tion, it was con­ceiv­able that cus­tomers could take de­liv­ery of a keg filled with lye – a caus­tic chemical used in the clean­ing process that is poi­sonous and cor­ro­sive.

In or­der to pre­vent ac­ci­dents of this kind, HACCP, a qual­ity as­sur­ance pro­gram for the Ger­man food in­dus­try, stip­u­lates the in­stal­la­tion of crit­i­cal con­trol points.

Erdinger Weiss­bräu de­cided to en­sure a 100 per cent pro­tec­tion of its keg clean­ing and fill­ing process. Risk anal­y­sis demon­strated the need to set up an additional con­trol point to en­sure that a keg filled with lye could not slip through the con­ven­tional con­trol points.

As a keg con­tain­ing lye has a con­sid­er­ably higher tem­per­a­ture than one filled with beer, con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing of tem­per­a­tures proved to be the op­ti­mum so­lu­tion. In this way, it was easy to iden­tify wrongly filled kegs by mea­sur­ing the tem­per­a­ture of each.

Non-con­tact tem­per­a­ture mea­sure­ment us­ing spot py­rom­e­ter ther­mome­ters proved not to be suf­fi­ciently re­li­able for this ap­pli­ca­tion. Ac­cord­ingly, an in­frared cam­era was the cho­sen op­tion. When cor­rectly ad­justed and in­ter­preted, the cam­era’s im­ages en­able a vir­tu­ally er­ror­free mea­sure­ment.

A Flir Sys­tems A-Se­ries ther­mal imag­ing cam­era now mea­sures the tem­per­a­ture of ev­ery keg be­fore it leaves the con­veyor belt of the fill­ing in­stal­la­tion. If the in­frared cam­era iden­ti­fies a keg with a dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­ture, it sets off an alarm and the con­veyor belt is au­to­mat­i­cally halted. The keg is then man­u­ally re­moved.

The mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem with the in­frared cam­era at the Erdinger brew­ery has proven to be ex­tremely suc­cess­ful. The sys­tem is reg­u­larly in­spected, but even in er­ror sim­u­la­tions the cam­era has proven it­self par­tic­u­larly re­li­able – any de­vi­a­tion has been iden­ti­fied im­me­di­ately, trig­ger­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate alarm stage.

“Not one keg filled with lye has left the fill­ing shed,” says a spokesman for Erdinger Weiss­bräu.

Through soft­ware, Erdinger’s cam­era is con­nected to a touch screen mon­i­tor that shows which size and type of keg is go­ing through the clean­ing and fill­ing process. A ther­mal im­age of each keg is si­mul­ta­ne­ously shown on the mon­i­tor screen in real time. The sys­tem is not in­cor­po­rated into the wash­ing and fill­ing ma­chin­ery, which means it can be used on any fill­ing in­stal­la­tions.­quiry #D131214

The in­frared im­age above shows a keg filled with beer is cooler than the keg (be­low) filled with the poi­sonous clean­ing fluid lye.

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